As we are often reminded in practice, we change the world one person at a time, that person being ourselves. We are really the only person we can change and that change radiates outward into the world. We may think things like friendly chit chat at the coffee shop are small and inconsequential but what if everyone did this, all day long, might the world be a different place? Yesterday the young woman at the cash desk in the local health food store said to me: "Remember when you gave us a ride (lots of hitchhiking still happens here on the island) and we were talking about Vipassana, we went home that night and signed up to do another 10 day Goenka retreat." A simple case of we never know what the other person will do as a result of our interaction. Also a sobering reminder when our exchanges are fueled by anger or greed.
It is easy to think that sometimes our meditation practice isn't going anywhere. The mind still wanders, our early expectations about practice have been tossed aside in favour of no expectations at all. But when we look at the small differences in how we relate to the world we can see the impact practice makes on our lives. Over the years we may find we choose our words more carefully or even choose to say no words at all sometimes. Maybe we are not in such a hurry all of the time or we are kinder to our sister-in-law who drives us a bit crazy. It is the many small actions that make up our day and ultimately our lives.
In "Being Peace" Thich Nhat Hanh says: "Every day we do things, we are things, that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our lifestyle, our way of consuming, of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment we are alive, the present moment. When we pick up the Sunday newspaper, for instance, we may be aware that it is a very heavy edition, maybe three or four pounds. To print such a paper, a whole forest may be needed. When we pick up the paper, we should be aware, If we are very aware, we can do something to change the course of things"