This article is inspired by the life of Nelson Mandela. Having recently seen the movie Invictus, which tells a part of his life story, I am reading his autobiography ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’. In addition to finding it a very good read, I am deeply touched by the important lessons that his life represents for all of us walking a path toward enlightenment.
We could each see the restrictions of our lives as blocks to our freedom, and on the one hand that is true. On the other hand, working within the restrictions of our lives may be exactly how we can find our center of inner peace and learn to act within our environment with wisdom and grace in order to achieve the personal power and freedom we seek.
Nelson Mandela’s life shows how the power of inner peace, perseverance, love and wisdom change the world. This man was born into the South Africa of Apartheid, the white supremist society that controlled all of the wealth and power in only 17 % of the total population. The small wealthy white population used the majority black population as extremely underpaid labor. From that humble beginning, very late in his life he became the first black president of a new South African government that he helped to negotiate into being. In between the two events of his birth and his presidency, Mr. Mandela worked for the freedom of all people within his country and was imprisoned for 27yrs. for his efforts.
What impressed me so much was the way he mastered his experience of prison and used it to forward his political goals. All of his life, prior to imprisonment, he had found ways to work within the impossible restrictions of the Apartheid system. When in jail those restrictions became many times more extreme, he didn’t despair, but by befriending the jail warders gradually worked through the system to greatly improve the terrible state of the prisons and to raise consciousness around the world of the plight of the Black South African. World governments and the mobilization of resistance among the people of South Africa eventually put enough pressure on the government of Apartheid to make change a necessity that the government could no longer resist.
I found his love of all people and compassion toward them to be a key element in Nelson Mandela’s victory. While he hated the system, he was so truly kind and intelligent that he sought to understand his captors and with that understanding and the compassion that came from it, he found his way through the obstructions to experience victory. He was not afraid to use force, but he used kindness, intelligence and perseverance first and only used force where nothing else worked.
In our own lives, I think we can learn from his story. That while we may feel oppressed by our economy or our circumstances we can find our way to the victory that we seek.
I believe that at the level of our higher consciousness, many of us have put ourselves into life circumstances in order to develop qualities such as those that Nelson Mandela learned through his. We can learn to love ourselves and to seek a true and compassionate inner vision, to work within the limitations of our world with kindness, and strength to achieve a kind of inner mastery as well as to achieve our outward goals.
When it feels like circumstances are keeping us from fulfilling ourselves, we might think about how those exact circumstances can be used to realize our potential. In order to do this, we will have to step out of our personal agendas for a bit and look at things from a wider perspective. What could my higher self have chosen this situation for? Then we may have to get very creative and find ways to use our gifts, or take the opportunity to find muscles that we didn’t know we had.
Perhaps the circumstances we are in are the exact opportunity that is necessary to bring us to that place of personal power and mastery where we are able to achieve our dreams.
By: Eve Wilson