To put it simply, world news continues to be anxiety-inducing amongst humankind almost wherever one looks. The word ‘agitation’ is one that springs very readily to mind – most often, perhaps, when we’re speaking of others, whether near or far, but we only have to abide with the word for a few seconds before we recognise its symptoms in ourselves.
Pessimism is deep-rooted in many western cultures. How different the world might look if the art and gift of contemplation were properly taught, always and everywhere, from kindergarten upwards. Beatrice Bruteau speaks and writes of Radical Optimism as counter to near universal pessimism. And better still, she leads us into just such quieter waters … restoring the soul:
Let us start now to attend to relaxing, first our bodies, in the usual sense, just unwinding after our work. Then our minds and emotions. Instead of trying to force ourselves to feel this, or not feel that, trying to control ourselves by tension, we should rather relax our feelings, just as we would relax a tense muscle. The Hindus say that if you look at your mind and emotions as if at the surface of a lake, you will see your agitation as rough waves. But if you continue just to look at them and notice that you who are looking are not the agitated waves, then gradually those waves will subside. They will damp down, smooth out, and after a while the surface of the lake will be calm. Once the water is calm, it also becomes transparent. Then you can look down through it, clear to the bottom. When our mind becomes clear and transparent, we can perceive what lies at its bottom, its foundation: it is the peace of God, the divine Eternity. Then the mind rests happily in this state, even while we go about our business, doing the things that need to be done.
Radical Optimism, page 25