The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Practice Small Acts of Anonymous Mercy

From The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann, copyright 1998, 1999 by Mythical Research Inc, published in the UK in 2001 by Hodder & Stoughton.

Practice Small Acts of Anonymous Mercy

So where do we begin?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out that when we do "good works," we should do them without other people knowing that we did them. This is a difficult task: you have to continually keep an eye out for such opportunities.

Many people, looking at the enormity of all the problems facing the world, feel depressed, overwhelmed, and apathetic. They often give up.

What we can do - small acts of mercy
But there is great spiritual and cultural power in performing small acts of mercy. They echo farther than most people realize, and begin a ‘morphic resonance’ process of putting out into the air – in a way that becomes culturally contagious – the millions of small steps which must be taken world-wide to save our planet and our species.

We've seen this over and over, in the way fads spread, jokes travel around the world, the ways that consciousness is shared. On some level, we are all connected. When you save the life of another living being – even a worm or a weed – you are putting into the air the saving of lives. Small acts of mercy are among the most transformational spiritual activities a person can engage in, which is probably why Jesus and those teachers and prophets before him repeatedly put such emphasis on them.

A Cree Native American storyteller and teacher told me: ‘According to my tradition, from the beginning of creation, every morning, when the sun comes up, we are each given four tasks by our Creator for that day. First, I must learn at least one meaningful thing today. Second, I must teach at least one meaningful thing to another person. Third, I must do something for some other person, and it will be best if that person does not even realize that I have done something for them. And, fourth, I must treat all living things with respect. This spreads these things throughout the world.’

In October of 1997 I was in Stadtsteinach, Germany, sharing breakfast with my mentor, Gottfried Muller. A staunch ‘independent Christian’ (he will join no organized religion) but fond of Christian and Jewish metaphors, he said, ‘You know, in the balance scale of good and evil, there is much power and weight on the side of pain and torment and evil in the world. The story of Job tells how many different powers evil has, to create wars, to make pain, to afflict people, even to create what look like miracles. But there is one ability which Satan does not have. It is an ability which only we have. And, because he does not have this ability, even when we use it in very small ways, it is a great weight for good on the balance scale of the world.’ ‘And what is this ability?’ I said.

Barmhertzigkeit,’ he said. It is a German word which means small acts of mercy, performed with compassion. ‘And, as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount about the widow who gave a penny, it is often the smallest, most anonymous acts which create the loudest thunder in the spiritual world.’

Your actions, words, and even your thoughts have a powerful spiritual and real-world effect, whether others know about them or not. We are each like miniature transmitters, putting out into the air whatever we're about at the moment. So, no matter how overwhelming the problems of the world may seem, you do have an effect, even if nobody ever knows what you've done.

Stepping back from greed
In stepping back from the intrusions and distractions of our corporate-driven culture, and in reaching out to the divinity both within ourselves and within nature, we can find a power and purpose and deep meaning to life. From this new vantage point, we can see the essential insanity of [our modern, ‘dominator’] lifestyle, and when enough people figure this out, we will turn around on the destructive road humanity is now following.

But how many people need to know this?
A recent flyer I received from an organization that simply calls itself ‘Only Love Prevails’ claims the number is a mere 80,000. They're suggesting that people should respond to any negative event – personally or worldwide – by mentally chanting, ‘Only love prevails’. When I asked Victor Grey, author of Web Without a Weaver and The Laser of Intent and a member of the organization, where they came up with that number, he wrote to me: ‘Physicists tell us that according to the laws of wave mechanics, the intensity of (any kind of) waves that are in phase with each other is the square of the sum of the waves. In other words, two waves added together are four times as intense as one wave, ten waves are one hundred times as intense, etc. Since thought is an energy, and all energy occurs as waves, we believe that 80,000 people all thinking the same thing together are as powerful, in terms of creating the reality that we all share as the 6,400,000,000 people (80,000 times 80,000) that will inhabit the planet around the turn of the century, in their random chaotic thought. Therefore, 80,000 people all believing only in love will be enough to change the planetary reality.’

Could it be? Studies done by the Transcendental meditation folks have demonstrated repeatedly that when a certain threshold of meditators is reached in a city, the city's crime rates suddenly drop. (Seven percent is the figure most often cited, although some groups claim as little as one percent.)

But even if Victor and his organization are wrong in their numbers, there is still hope. Ideas are the most powerful force in the human world: everything man-made originated with ideas. Our culture is an idea – the idea of domination – and it can awaken to, or remember, the idea of cooperation that humans lived out for millions of years.

So if you share the ideas in The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight with just one person every month, and each of them shares the ideas with one person a month, a rapid and profound multiplication of these thoughts can spread across the world. When you do the maths on this ‘one person a month’ sharing, you discover that within less than three years every human being alive – over six billion people – could hear the message, see the vision, and feel the possibility of a better life. Whatever the number, there is a synergistic effect in human interactions. The more people who think or believe a certain way, the more who will find it easy to think or believe that way. The more acts of mercy performed, the more people will be inclined to act mercifully. The more people turn to searching for peace and divinity, the more peace and divinity will be found.

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