Light-hearted

Good people are light-hearted. What does light-hearted mean? Maybe we can understand it somewhat through its opposite — heavy-hearted. To be heavy-hearted is to live preoccupied to the point of neurosis with work, salary, bills to pay, schools for the children, drugs, violence in the streets, and good-for-nothings. And, if one has one's own business, how to face the competition, incorporate new technology, and manage more efficiently. A heavy heart does not let us sleep peacefully. Why?

To answer this question we have to delve deeply into the kind of civilization we have created and globalized. Our civilization is extremely complex, but a hidden driving force turns all its rods and wheels — the will to power and to exert it as domination. We want to dominate nature, to reach its outer limits, to dominate the forces of society, to dominate psychic energy, and to dominate the code of life. And to reap profits from everything, even at a disastrous ecological price. This civilization has produced two feelings in us: elation and fear. Elation, because of science and technology which have brought so much ease to our lives by making our children die less frequently and our seniors live longer, and which has taken us to the Moon. Fear, because of the capacity for mass destruction that it has offered us. The end of human history is no longer an act of God but an act of man since we have set up the beginning of our own destruction.

To limit this capacity for madness, we have invented human rights, animal rights, the rights of nature and the concept of dignity for the Earth. Even so, what is the final existential outcome of this civilizing process? The heavy heart. We have lost confidence in life and in the innocent joy of living. We have exiled ourselves from Earth and broken the fraternal bonds that united us to nature. What one human being fears most is another human being. He is alone with his dominating power. And as he accumulates more power, his face becomes tenser, his wrinkle lines deeper, and his outlook more insecure. We don't know where we are going. And our heart becomes heavy.

How do we grow a light heart? By starting to live out from now on two values that underlie another civilizing principle — voluntary simplicity and humility. Simplicity is not the natural spontaneity of the innocent. It is the fruit of human maturity. It emerges when we distance ourselves from what separates the self from the other and from nature — that is, the will to possess and dominate. With this obstacle removed, we find that we are all brothers and sisters of the star and of every living being. St. Francis of Assisi is the archetype of this way of being. Humility is to put oneself on the same plane as every other being and see that we all come from the same soil. Chuang-Tzu is the archetype of this value (see the Way of Chuang-Tzu). He was able to see the Tao in manure as well as in the prince. The effect of this viewpoint for these masters from West and East was the conquest of a light heart.

You will be light-hearted if you discover the green on the street corners and the flowers that smile there. If, in looking up, you see the passing cloud far beyond the buildings. If, when you meet a poor man, you are able to fill your eyes with his presence and see him as a brother. If you do all this, you will know what it is to live light-heartedly. You will not be bitter or self-interested. Another kind of civilization will begin with you and you will be able to sleep without a stony weight on your breast, because you will be light-hearted.

Free translation from the Spanish provided by AnneFullerton@mybluelight.com. Done in Arlington, VA in cooperation with Refugio del Rio Grande, Texas.