A Small Circle of Concern is Conducive to Peace

By Desmond Yeoh SC

TreeThe tallest tree in a particular area will receive the most sunlight. It is not concerned about the taller trees in other areas because those other trees do not block its sunlight. It is just happy to be the tallest tree is that particular area.

Unlike trees, we tend to be overly concerned about many things that have little impact on us. We tend to compare our success to others even though their success does not change our lives in any way. Whether they are successful or not, the quality of our life remains the same. So why does their success bother us?

To experience more inner-peace, we need to reduce our circle of concern. As we reduce our circle of concern, we also become less judgmental or critical of others. The political changes in Malaysia in 2020 may be disturbing to many Malaysians. I too was closely tracking the news and thinking, ‘this and that person should have done this and that’. Then I thought who am I to judge these people when I cannot even do a small fraction of what these people have done for the nation. Then I let the issue go. Yes, it is important to read the news but let us not delve too deeply into them to such an extent that they disturb us emotionally. Really, if there is nothing we can do about them, we should just let them go and push them out of our circle of concern.

The leaders of countries or large organisations have humongous circles of concerns. Anything that affects even a small part of their country or organisation must receive their fullest attention. Therefore, they are always working and thinking about their country or organisation with little time for peace. They do not have time to contemplate spiritual truths. Accordingly, it is unlikely that these important people will attain enlightenment in this life. As we can, wealth and power comes with a big sacrifice.

The funny thing is; the poor are unhappy because they have too little while the rich are unhappy because they have too many things to take care of.

Sometimes I envy the life of a forest monk or sanyasi. They think of nothing else but their spiritual practice. Their circle of concern is very small indeed.

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