Of course, even when you see the world as a trap and posit a fundamental separation between liberation of self and transformation of society, you can still feel a compassionate impulse to help its suffering beings. In that case you tend to view the personal and the political in a sequential fashion. “I’ll get enlightened first, and then I’ll engage in social action.” Those who are not engaged in spiritual pursuits put it differently: “I’ll get my head straight first, I’ll get psychoanalyzed, I’ll overcome my inhibitions or neuroses or my hang-ups (whatever description you give to samsara) and then I’ll wade into the fray.” Presupposing that world and self are essentially separate, they imagine they can heal one before healing the other. This stance conveys the impression that human consciousness inhabits some haven, or locker-room, independent of the collective situation — and then trots onto the playing field when it is geared up and ready.
It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up — release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature. For some of us, our love of the world is so passionate that we cannot ask it to wait until we are enlightened.”
― Joanna Macy, World as Lover, World as Self