My dear friends,
I’ve been hibernating a long time. I emerge with this unusually long note!! Please be patient with me. Its Thanksgiving in the US, a time of celebrating harvest, feasting with friends and family, remembering our blessings with gratitude. Here in the US, we’re doing just that. We’re harvesting what we have sown. May we celebrate with gratitude, and there is a lot to celebrate, perhaps not always apparent.
These are turbulent times. These are times rich in potential. In our bodies, there is some similarity in the experience of nervousness and excitement. Often they come together: one to check that we are safe and one to propel us forward. They both guide us. I am being pushed into more of what I do for work and I now actively seek more opportunities too.
Like many of you I’ve experienced the whole gamut of emotions in the days before and after the elections rather intensely. Today, over and above all those emotions, is a knowing, a deep conviction that this is a natural and necessary phase of our evolutionary cycle, as a nation and as a planet. For many of us, it may resonate with our individual life cycle. We have had a part in what has brought us to this point and we are part of what will move us forward. We get to choose how we move forward.
In a pre-election talk, the priest of the Great Heartland Buddhist Temple of Toledo Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik, reminded us of a drop of Zen wisdom that summarizes what may be a core message for life today: No one can do it for us but we cannot do it alone.In similar vein, in the wake of the great Full Moon around the same time, Lakota Elder Tokala Two Elk reminded us in a Spirit Lodge teaching, that we did not come in to this world in a bus or an aircraft with a whole lot of other people. We came in alone. But we also were born into a human clan.
The day before US elections, National Catholic Review reported that Pope Francis urged social justice activists from around the world not to succumb to the politics of fear. “Because fear—as well as being a good deal for the merchants of arms and death—weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others,” he said. “In the end,” he continued, “it makes us cruel.”
Let’s learn how to lean into our fears and doubts, while not giving our power over to them. Let’s take any wisdom these icky experiences offer and manage the emotions that come with them so we can step into our greatness. This is no time for smallness and pettiness and finger pointing. We’re all invited to look freshly at the structures that support our happiness and well being individually and as a community. We’re also being forced to dismantle the structures that do not serve us.
I was prompted to look up the word ‘apocalypse’ the other day. The Greek origins of the word are uncover, unveil, reveal. What has been disguised and under cover is out in the open in all its stench and in all its potential radiance. Deep rooted illusions of differences, selfishness, and the astonishing ignorance of rather intelligent beings is staring us in the face. Simultaneously, deep generosity, caring, and connectedness across all sections of many communities also stand seen by the world.
I believe I’m not alone in believing that we are witnessing the phasing out of an era that has done its time on earth. We’re ushering in a new era. What we, each and every one of us add to it in our own individual ways, will determine the nature of this ushering in. It’s time for us to all dive into our hearts, and allow ourselves to admit if we are afraid to love and be wrong and we’re afraid to be vulnerable, that we need help and safety to change our stories and not be shamed by anyone for who we are. How long do we want to keep our defenses up? It’s exhausting! We want to feel safe and trusted because we are white, because we are black, because we are Asian and Latino. We want people to accept us for being lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender and queer. We want support in this country that we have sought refuge in, where we choose to toil and enjoy and share the fruits of our labors.
To my students: be diligent in your awareness of self and other, because other is truly an extension of yourself. Religious people have talked of this from time immemorial. You know it in your heart, your bodies, don’t you? Be aware of the tiny flinch you may feel in these times: is it from your conditioning as a white or black person, or one who has been sexually abused? Be with those parts of you and protect and allow them to heal. Mostly, allow your larger self, your sense of consciousness that you have been taught how to access respond to these times. You know how to do that! This is not a time for reaction, but a time for responding: with kindness and compassion, with righteous (not self-righteous) anger and with ferocity to protect all that is good and whole.
Please stay connected in your awareness to your bodies, in which you live and through which you experience and interact with the world, as well as heal. It is not, your bodies will show you, people who are to be attacked at this time. It’s the stuff that keeps people from people, and keeps us blind and deaf and heartless. Let’s attack those things with loving ferocity: all the isms and all that makes us hurt each other. They have no place in our bodies, our lives or our society.
No, this is not just a crisis in the USA. It is also a personal edge we’re facing, if we allow ourselves to. We could also continue to stay in denial. Not all of us need to participate in protests. Social activism takes many forms: our inner work as we challenge our own conditioning, as we stand up for our truths, as we engage with curiosity with ‘the other’. It is pausing to sense our intentions and possible effects of our words before we post on Facebook. It is learning how to create good soil, organize potlucks with friends, listen to the real fears of our ‘targeted’ neighbors. Let’s begin exactly where we are at. Let’s ask for help when we need it and urge each other on toward our “more”. Let’s live together in a more intentional manner.
Do feel free to respond. Let us know how you’re doing and what you’re doing for yourself and others. Inspire and encourage us all.