happy 85th birthday to His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama @dalailama !
i’ve had the great pleasure of attending a handful of his public talks over the years and his message is consistent, unwavering, and simple – compassion and connection are the answer. the simplicity of the message shouldn’t distract from its power and His Holiness doesn’t shy away from the idea of compassion being at times hard work and fierce rather than just some platitude.
i once heard or read that we can see enlightenment in a person, because they laugh a lot. the Dalai Lama laughs A LOT, but you can just as easily see him become serious, thoughtful and sympathetic when connecting with intellectuals, visitors, and the Tibetan people who come to see him. he connects in the moment.
the message of compassion is sorely needed at this time. we see it alive and well in health professionals and essential workers, but we also see the need for many others to open to it.
may His Holiness continue on for many more years extolling the beneficial and healing message of compassion and connection.
i love our country and i love what our country can be. i’m grateful for our country and for living here, but i am grieved by its past sins and our lacking ability to come together in moral unity to recognize our past and resolve to make change.
this country was built for freedom, but was built on the lives of those who didn’t receive freedom or rights and weren’t recognized as equal in their humanity. for so many descendants and many BIPOC those rights and freedoms are still illusive in cultural, structural, systemic ways.
we have a long way to go in forming a more perfect union. we won’t get further without awareness and recognition of the past aligned with a vow to make the changes and sacrifices necessary to ensure that ALL people are recognized as equal in their embodiment of life and that the socio-economic, governmental structures and systems in place reflect that value.
we are in a challenging time in this country. we have so many who have awakened to this need for change and progress, but we also have many who feel their privilege being threatened and are desperately clinging to an illusion of a “great” past where/when not everyone was/is included, being led by a man who stokes the fire of division and separation, racism and violence in his words and policies.
how ironic that on Independence Day, I should say that our emphasis on our independence is our downfall, but I do and it is. our worship and celebration of individualism is not a truthful reflection of how life is or how life works and this causes harm. we are not independent, we are interdependent. our lives, our words and actions, are intertwined. our welfare, our future as a species on this planet is in jeopardy precisely because we are not aware or do not recognize this. this harmful ignorance is alive in a phrase such as “America First”, it is alive in our clinging to celebratory monuments to a past that was oppressive and harmful, it is alive in our unwillingness to wear a mask or responsibly socially distance for the welfare of others during a rising pandemic.
we aren’t guaranteed a future, friends. but in the life we embody, in the short time we embody it, we have such a great and sacred opportunity to be beneficial, to offer our lives to a movement of love, one that embraces the beauty inherent in our diversity and the necessity for equality and justice, so we can indeed form that more perfect union, not just in these United States, but a union of all humanity and all life.
the world needs us to wake up to our interdependence and let go of the myths of individualism and essentialism. we hide behind our accumulation and consumption and the myth of the rugged individual, because the recognition of our interdependence comes with immense responsibility to each other and the world. the truth always finds its way to the surface no matter how deep we try to bury it, though. we are in a time when the truth of our interdependence is coming forth in multiple areas, calling on us to wake up – what an opportunity to welcome transformation, justice, healing and peace!
i’ve been a mess over the murder of Elijah McClain.
i haven’t had the words to post about it, honestly. i don’t know if Elijah was on the spectrum or not. though i suspect he was, i haven’t seen it confirmed. i have nephews who are Black and on the spectrum. who very well, one day, could be out and about waving their arms stemming or scripting and someone could report them for acting strange as the shop owner did. Are they going to be left alone, or given assistance, or killed by police for not reading social cues or not responding in a normative way??? Elijah did nothing wrong. This is so cruel what happened to him. He was walking home from purchasing an iced tea. He was dancing around waving his arms. He was wearing an open face ski mask because he was anemic. He was close to home. Why couldn’t the police have just walked/escorted him home?
Elijah played violin for shelter animals, he was loved by everyone for his kind and gentle spirit, he only weighed 140 lbs and he was anemic – what threat was he posing? Police once again assumed the worst, didn’t listen the the pleas for help and inability to breathe, ignored the vomiting.
I encourage you to read up on this, but also to look at these photos of this gentle soul who was killed and read his final words before his life was taken.
even if no one else answers the call, we have a responsibility to this life – which is to say our life, others’ lives, and all life – to be embodied love, which we do through our compassion which is our love in action, in service to end the harm and suffering we see.
though my main practice is sitting meditation, Shamatha (Sanskit for peaceful abiding, “Shyine ” in Tibetan), i am leaning into and benefitting from practicing Metta (Pali for loving-kindness, “Maitri” in Sanskrit) more regularly during this challenging time.
here is a Metta verse i wrote for myself in my practice quite a while back. though i’ve shared it before, i wanted to share it again, since it may be useful to reflect on for others as well.
for many of us life can feel overwhelming right now. there is an urge for some of us to just move on, or to pretend reality is something different than what data, lived experience, and facts tell us.
please rest as needed and then come back to the table.
#COVID19 is real and continues to rise in half the states, even while politicians and businesses push to reopen at the cost of human life. we are still in first wave, second wave in fall, and China has brand new clusters of outbreaks this week. openings should be done responsibly. we should be wearing a mask and social distancing responsibly.
#BlackLivesMatter still needs to be a primary focus. even with the spotlight on law enforcement culture, new videos emerge of racism, abuse of power, and death. the systemic and cultural changes needed take longer than a week or two – a lot longer, in fact – ongoing. we can’t lose this momentum, there’s too much at stake.
all of this, while having a would be dictator President who at every turn undermines the dignity and value of life – in humans, animals, and environment, while glorifying division, aggression, and violence.
we are finding that perhaps more than ever in our lives, that we are indelibly interconnected and our attention is needed. please please pay attention. life needs our attention.