Throughout the ages there have been men and women who have labored to better the world. Some of them worked through communities and institutions while some of them worked at what some people call “the grass roots level,” to raise a group of people wanted to help provide for the needs of the society at a deeper, more personal level, than most governments. These groups were often met with a great deal of resistance, but as more people joined them and they gained more power, they also gained enough prestige to become part of the larger system. This was both a blessing and a curse.

Today, due to the speed of communication, we can see the fruit of their success faster. As they become part of the system they get more power, but the amount of compromising necessary to remain at the table and keep that power also increases. After they have compromised too much they become the system instead of agents of correction. They begin to make a few cosmetic changes here and there and to pass out the Band-Aids, but they really don’t make the foundational changes needed to stop people from getting wounded.

Their success has ultimately become their failure. They have ended up selling their souls to do good and bending their values so far they don’t exist anymore. Finally they end up being the oppressors and suppressors they thought they were fighting. This is an example of how one’s success externally can contribute to one’s demise internally. The Shaolin discuss this in their wisdom literature. They say that some people only use their energy and light of awareness to fight against darkness and evil externally. While their awareness is being applied on the outside the evil they are fighting finds a place of welcome on the inside. They are then turned into what they are fighting against.

The Shaolin say that is more important to use the light of awareness on the inside to purify and strengthen oneself so one can work to fight evil from a place of wholeness, completeness, and goodness. To create a better society it is important to know who one is and to cultivate one’s sense of self, honor, and dignity. One can work from a place of strength and power then, creating new ways to bring about social change. If one is moved by anger or by fear it can seem that she is doing great work while she is destroying the very principles inside herself that she wants the world to embrace. But if she struggles from a place of certitude and love, she will bring the principles she embraces to the world and be an example for following generations.

If you want to be a social change agent as part of your Karmic Yoga, cultivate love of self and neighbor. Treat yourself kindly. Truly love yourself and your neighbor--even those who oppose you. Love combined with just action will lead you to life. This life will replace the drudgery of fighting unbeatable odds, or the tiredness from maintaining a sense of righteous anger throughout the years and transform your work to one of joy. Your work will become part of the great spiral dance that weaves together and takes apart corrupt thoughts, concepts, and social systems, and recreates them in the image of love. You will be the very essence--the creative process of life, and your legacy of justice, which is applied love, will endure forever.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. John W. Gilmore is the founder and Spiritual Leader of the Cyber Circle of Creation Spirituality, which is an online service dedicated to deep ecumenism, mystical union with the Divine, and a progressive voice for societal transformation. He is a Spiritual Director, Martial Arts Instructor, a writer and a certified Reiki Master Teacher, Massage Therapist, a Reflexologist. For more commentaries like this one explore this e-zine or our Free Journal of Practical Spirituality at . You can also find a link to our cyber service, The Circle there.