just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
January, 2011

Convicted Civility Demands Openness and Curiosity

Friday, January 14th, 2011
Bridges, Not Walls

Bridges, Not Walls

It’s been an amazing week in light of the Tucson shooting.  While the pain, wounding and suffering are massive, it’s interesting what happens when we’re drawn into the pause of violence’s aftermath.  While our ‘important’ people are very cautious to not blame our mindless, angry speech for the actions of a mentally ill shooter, there has been much needed attention put to the power of words and our respect for one another as human beings.  Unfortunately, not a lot has been said about just what it means to be civil.  I understand that the word originates from the capacity to live well in a city.  It goes beyond tolerance to a sense of interconnection and interdependence.  It drives from compassion, generosity and common sense to evolve.  This would necessarily require a vow to open mindedness.  The origin of politics goes to civility, seeking common sense solutions for the best of the city.  Unfortunately, greed for power, authority and wealth have created selfish interests which undermine our willingness for civil discussion.  It’s rare to see a common sense dialogue.  Most of our legislators are trained attorneys, skilled in the techniques of persuasion.  Their educational training places almost no attention to the skills of active listening and dialogue.  We’ve seen our politics digress to arguments of blame, manipulation, fear, intimidation, and every tactic of persuasion possible.  Our political campaigns focus upon difference through combat style debates and inflammatory TV, Internet and radio ads that would have us believe we’re a truly polarized divided nation.  The nature of politics today has been anything but civil attempts to make common sense decisions for the best of all with harm to none.  So it’s been refreshing to see this topic at least touched upon over the past few days.

Last night President Obama referenced the ultimate question, pointing out that as we face our death the real sense of our life meaning will come down to how well we’ve loved.  It won’t revolve around how many metals we’ve received, how much fame and fortune, how much power and material accumulation, etc.  We’ll say good-bye to all of these, yet the results of our loving actions will continue.  The results of the heroic actions in Tucson will forever live on much like those of the 9/11 heroes.  Their wholehearted, open actions of courage raised the consciousness of the planet.  The most poignant message from President Obama was a challenge to honor those heroes of Tucson with speech befitting to this higher consciousness.  So just how do we do this?

It makes no difference what political party, race, religion, etc., one belongs.  What counts is our convicted civility to hold an open mind.  A great democracy demands we step from our ‘righteous pride’ and sense of ‘knowing’ to a humble curiosity to grow and learn.  This takes the greatest of courage.  Can I face others whose concepts and thoughts are vastly different from mine with a fresh, open mind, willing to explore?  Can I dedicate to cultivating surprise and curiosity in my journey to deepen understanding?  Can I approach others from a deeper desire to uncover our common sense rather than judgmentally focusing upon our apparent differences?  This requires the deepest courage and results in the best society.  It drives from faith and hope, from a much deeper knowing.  It has nothing to do with persuasion.  There’s a vow to cultivate the open mind, to step from fear in courage to participate, and to humbly receive the gift of this participation.  It’s a recognition that our very embodiment as a human is precious gift, providing the opportunity to participate.  It’s a realization to convict ourselves to joy, no matter what.  It’s conviction to dialog, to steward a hopeful future, and to humbly hold our place as an interconnected being.

Our great spiritual teachers strongly recommend space to cultivate our appreciation through prayer and/or meditation.  This has been a great week for this.  Again, it occurred during a week of Oneness (1/11/11), a week where we could all more deeply touch the gift of our humanity.

Circles Have No Sides

The Vantage View of “One”

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Violence has been described as “that which robs opportunity”.  From the mind of Two (greed, fear and ignorance), we inflict harm upon another from the delusion that we’re somehow separate.  Somehow caught in notions of our “rightness”, we inflict our judgment upon others, exerting our force in persuasive attempts to get them to change.  Interestingly, change is always here.  Cultivating curiosity, the compassionate response is to listen, even to those who we’re tempted to judge as ‘unenlightened’.

Have you been watching the news coverage of the “Tragedy in Tucson”?  It’s not one to make sense from when approaching from a position of Two.  Shortly after such deep wounding (separation), the only authentic response is silence.  I went to Virginia Tech one week after the shootings.  I could feel the darkness and pain on the campus when I was still miles away on my approach.  The mainstream media circus had left, clergy trying to sell their answers were trying to talk to students, yet the only genuine response seemed to rest in the collective stillness and silence.  This was also the more common experience after 9/11 and other deeply wounding tragedies.  These silent moments after such deep hurt give us pause to touch our humanity.  We find a moment to diminish our fear and anger, to embrace those whose thought is not our thought.  The breaking of this silence is a delicate matter.  At Virginia Tech I blew the horn at a ceremony one week after the shooting.  It still may have been too early, but it was a sounding of unification, in harmony and rhythm once again found after such dissonance and separation.

The Sound of One was heard loud and clear from outer space when Rep. Gifford’s astronaut brother-in-law challenged us to be more mindful with our words. Flight controllers in Houston fell silent as Scott Kelly spoke via radio from space:

“We have a unique vantage point here aboard the International Space Station. As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.

These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words.

We’re better than this. We must do better.”

Sometimes it takes a vantage from a different space to cultivate Oneness.  A previous astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, had a similar experience upon viewing the peace of our planet from space.  Upon return to earth he founded IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences, www.noetic.org).  This organization’s mission is to scientifically validate this experience of one.  Their vision statement is:

The Institute of Noetic Sciences serves an emerging movement of globally conscious citizens dedicated to manifesting our highest capacities. We believe that consciousness is essential to a paradigm shift that will lead to a more sustainable world. We encourage open-minded explorations of consciousness through the meeting of science and spirit. We take inspiration from the great discoveries of human history that have been sourced from insight and intuition and that have harnessed reason and logic for their outer expression. It is our conviction that systematic inquiries into consciousness will catalyze positive concrete transformations in the world. In this process, our vision is to help birth a new worldview that recognizes our basic interconnectedness and interdependence and promotes the flourishing of life in all its magnificent forms.

Noam Chomsky has written that our attempts to persuade others always has an underlying current of violence.  It’s like our restless, grasping mind is struggling with what “is”.  In times of trouble our thoughts travel to wanting things different.  If only we could be like we were, or if only we could get to future relief.  Anything but resting in this painful place.  Yet, our experience and ancient wisdom leads us to rest in ‘this moment’, in meeting what’s arising here and now.  This is the formula the Buddha provided over two thousand years ago.  Our restless mind causes pain and suffering.  It comes from our attachments.  Our relief is to cultivate stillness, letting go our grasping, embracing the beauty of ‘this moment’.  Within the beauty of this moment we feel our basic interconnectedness and interdependence (Oneness).  We’re then directed to actions from a sense of wonder (one-der) and reverence.  From this place we aim to a higher consciousness that’s more sensitive to the harm from damaging speech, from taking what’s not been given, from sexual misconduct, from killing, and from the ignorance grown through intoxicants.  When Scott Kelly says “we’re better than this, we must do better”, it’s the same command as our great spiritual teachers.  It’s a moment of pause to consider cultivating a response to our Oneness.  For me, young Mattie Stapanek captured it best with his 9/11 poem:

For Our World

We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

Mattie J.T. Stepanek
September 11, 2001

Have a healing moment this 1/11/11, a ‘One-drous’ Moment in Our Evolution

The Blessing of One

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Years ago I was gifted with the repeated experience of seeing 11:11 and 1:11 when randomly looking at time pieces.  Finally, with the gift of search engines, I learned I wasn’t alone.  This was a common experience to subtly remind us of Oneness over the delusion of two.  The spiritual life directs us to a profound stillness where we can cultivate awareness to this Presence.  It’s a radical hospitality for all that is, in full gratitude for the gift of opportunity.  In the gravity of culture, where the messages of two abound through greed, fear and ignorance, the universe of One cultivates response from generosity, love, forgiveness and gratitude.

Tomorrow would seem to be a tipping point day, a day where more and more of us wake to the One.  Certainly, our great spiritual teachers commanded us to humble ourselves to the great interconnection of all, to the circle that knows no sides.  For those of you who can step with childlike openness, with the courage to taste the very Being of Oneness, transformation is upon us.  On 1/11/11, at 11:11 your time zone, please consider a pause to feel this Divine energy.  The adolescent mindset of “two” will diminish as we move to unveil the power of compassion.  Congress will reduce it’s fighting, the power and futility of war will be questioned, we’ll take a compassionate look at immigration, the War on Terror, divisional political and religious dogma, and hopefully grow deeper in our patience and love for one another.

Nature’s Law of Unity confirms that everything affects everything.  Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Dr. King, Mandella and a number of other spiritual leaders have clearly shown that where our notions of ‘two’ begin, our violence begins.  In Absolute Truth, the heart knows deep down that all is One.  John Lennon wrote, “Imagine the world will be One”.  Our great teachers have said that it is, we just need to wake to it.  In a universe of One, there’s no room for exception, no room for separation, and no room for judgment.

So tomorrow, no matter where your semantics are, please consider pausing for Oneness.  As Thich Knat Hahn affirms, we can always touch peace.  May we feel a shift tomorrow during this ‘one-drous’ year of ’11.  May you feel the ‘One-der’ as you step into that still space of interconnection.  In light of the Tucson shooting, a gift of the tragedy is the wake-up call for harm caused from malicious speech.  As we all deepen through our grief, may we further align with the heart’s resonance to One.  It’s a day to honor, to move beyond religion and politics, beyond notions of greed, fear and ignoring, to ‘touch, taste, smell, hear, and see the Presence of One.  It truly is a time of awakening to the Power of One (Love, God, Peace, Joy).

The Blessing of One is one of life’s greatest ‘One-ders’.