9.  Having an Effect

How can you be certain that what you do with your inner work has any effect on the world at large?

I can’t know for certain, but I have to repeat that this is what I have to do with my life whether or not I see an effect.

I’m comforted by the observation that there is usually a ripple effect caused by the way people act. If somebody wakes up in a foul mood and winds up being nasty to me, I may be predisposed to do or say something nasty to someone else, and on and on the nastiness can go down a chain of people. On the other hand, in the recent book by Daniel Goleman entitled Emotional Intelligence the story is told of a bus driver who greets each incoming passenger with a kind word and generally brings laughter and happiness to the whole bus; as each passenger leaves the bus, he or she is obviously transformed from surliness to happiness.

I have no idea how far the ripples may travel when I take any action. I wonder whether that sign-maker in Philadelphia has any idea that someone is remembering his actions 40 years later.