luminous beings…

 

a little late, but…
May The Fourth Be With You!

much needed after today, here are some favorite Force and wisdom quotes from Star Wars:

“It’s an energy field created by all living things.  It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” ~ Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Luminous beings are we. Not this crude matter.” ~ Yoda

“Close your eyes.  Feel it.  The light…it’s always been there.  It will guide you.” ~ Maz Kanata

“I’m one with the Force.  The Force is with me.” ~ Chirrut Imwe

“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” ~ Yoda

“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda

“To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not.  In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.” ~ Yoda

the kindness that transcends…


it seems, we may need this now more than ever. so much going on that encourages division, that encourages anger and aggression, that encourages the dismissing of individuals as well as whole groups of people.

the good news is that this kindness that transcends is always available, right here, right now in your very own heart.

~j

Palm Sunday reflection…

doing lovingkindness meditation today for so many at the receiving end of horrific violence including Egypt today, and Syria.  sitting with the darkness of such anger and violence, in contrast to the Palm Sunday message of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on the humble donkey as a prince of peace, as opposed to a king of war.

the transformative message of the deep and lasting power (love) present in openness and vulnerability – seemingly powerlessness – is still waiting to take hold. it has to take hold in each of our hearts first…  
#LovingKindness #metta #meditation #love #vulnerability #peace #PalmSunday #Jesus #war #violence #anger #darkness #light #TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds

empathy, our greatest weapon…

What we are seeing is a grasping, blinding, lust for power and wealth, rather than a love for life.

We see it in how it affects human life, and all life really, including the life of this planet.

We are out of balance.

I think if we each take a step back, a step out of our identifications, a step away from our screens, and just sit for a moment. Just sit and breathe. Just sit as a simple human being with all that makes us so – one quality stands out, our capacity to have empathy.

That’s what is presently lacking: empathy. Without it, we lose our humanity. And I do believe we are dancing dangerously on the brink, led by a pied piper or team of pied pipers, toward increased suffering and loss. It is already happening.

There is a wonderful Rumi quote, “Sit, be still, and listen, because you’re drunk and we’re at the edge of the roof.” The drink of those currently in power is narcissism paired with a world view that in its exclusion of the “other” denies a basic universal truth, we are not separate.

A world view that says we are somehow separate from everyone else is a lie. Plain and simple. What is being fed to us is a lie. It goes against nature, life, and the better part of our humanity. It puts profit over the health and lives of others. It excludes and fears anything it deems different. It proposes a false security through walls, aggressive laws and violence.

Put yourself or a family member in the place of the person who suffers health issues while on a fixed or limited income. Put yourself or someone you love in the place of the undocumented person now being separated from their children or spouse, having to leave the home they’ve known for decades. Put yourself or a friend in the place of a person who is seen as evil based on their religion, because fanatics have committed atrocities under its name. Put yourself in the place of someone who is seen as an abomination, because of who they love, yet they continue to love. Put yourself in the place of someone who lost their job, who feels like they are drowning in life and unable to provide for their family.

This is called empathy. And it is our greatest weapon against the tyranny of authoritarianism. Empathy aligns us with each other, it aligns us with life. Empathy opens our heart and draws out our other great weapon – compassion. Compassion is a boundless and fierce power.

This current trial is beyond political or religious affiliation. It is a human challenge, calling all of us to respond together as one family, one community to defeat the lie of separateness, to pull the walls of this harmful ideology down.

~j

03.12.17

self-care and care for others in dark times…

jmw-meditating

 

Recently I wrote that the world is in need of heroes, spiritual warriors, and bodhisattvas.

Given the state of things, especially in recent weeks, it appears that WE must be the heroes, the spiritual warriors, and bodhisattvas that we seek and that the world needs.  We cannot wait, as most of us have done in the past, for spiritual or secular leaders to rise up and rally, to galvanize and gather on our behalf.

This is a good thing!  It is incredibly inspirational to see hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions, of people around the globe standing up for the oppressed, the marginalize, and the most vulnerable – speaking truth to power with words and actions alike.

There has been a call.  Have you felt it?  The misdeeds and harmful actions of those in power has brought forth, for many, an almost instinctual – from the bones – reaction to resist and work towards an alternative.  And it does seem that what we have perhaps taken for granted in the past, cannot be taken for granted any more, but must be worked for and served.

People are in need and suffering.  We can offer ourselves – our talents, our skills, our words, our hands and feet, and our hearts – in service to relieving and healing that suffering.  This is what many Buddhists participate in, the Bodhisattva Vow, “Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them all.”  Of course we cannot save anyone, much less everyone, but within this vow is the recognition of self-lessness, of interdependence – the idea that I am because you are and what happens to you also affects me.  So, meditate on the softness of our heart, the tenderness that rises up when we think of a loved one, of someone dear.  We then extend this good will that has arisen toward others, knowing that they are someone’s loved one and they too are dear to someone.

None of us escape this journey unscathed by pain and suffering.  We all will experience illness, aging, loss, and eventually that great mystery that is death.  Isn’t this enough to draw out empathy and find common ground and open our hearts?  Our love and care when put into action is compassion…and in the current state of things we need some FIERCE compassion.  If we want our cause to be successful, we cannot be consistently motivated by anger.  We will burn out and burn everything else with us.  Our motivation MUST come from a place of love and fierce compassion working towards the noble causes of justice and peace.

There has been a lot of fierce compassion lately.  I saw it at the Women’s March and I’ve seen it in subsequent marches and peaceful protests as people stand, walk, and speak in the footsteps and voices of heroes, spiritual warriors, and bodhisattvas.

This can be and has been EXHAUSTING.  And when we are exhausted and diminished, we can get angry, irritable and then our words and actions may move from being beneficial to harmful.  Ends do not justify means.  The means are the end.  We must be what we seek.

So, how can we put that fierce compassion into action, if we are diminished, if we are exhausted?

When we take a bodhisattva vow, or make any commitment to serve others, to work towards an end to suffering, we must also include ourselves.  Self-care so that we can care for others.  This is what makes this a spiritual act.  Self-care only, is simply self-help.  This can be beneficial and good, but I am talking about something different here.  Self-care so that one can also care for others is a spiritual practice (even if you are agnostic, humanist, or atheist – no need to belong to a specific religion or belief system).  We practice as a benefit to ourselves and others, to reduce suffering in the world – even for those who are supposed “enemies” who may be on the opposite side of issues, even seeking our harm to support their desire to be “safe.”  Of course, none of us are safe if any community or group of people are scapegoated as “other.”  To paraphrase a quote by Diana Winston, “…there is a big difference between loving our enemies (those who’d harm us or others) and letting them get away with their wrongdoing (harmful actions).”  [additions mine ~j]

As a Buddhist (though one does NOT need to be Buddhist), as a meditator for the past 9 years, and as a meditation instructor I suggest and stand behind (…or is it sit behind) a regular meditation practice, as a beneficial support to self-care, so that one can also care for others.

A friend of mine recently asked me to share information about meditation practice with others in a post, because she has seen what many of us have seen – people exhausted and diminished by a deluge of negativity and overwhelming changes from those in power, pulling the ground out from under us.  She felt it would be a benefit and I do as well.

A note regarding meditation practice.  It isn’t a quick fix.  This may be disappointing, but the goal isn’t to attain some blissful or peaceful state (but what’s wrong with that?!).  When we practice meditation, we are practicing to be present in this moment – our mind and body together in one place – no matter the situation or what we are feeling.  In this way, with consistent practice, our hearts begin to naturally open and build a capacity to be with life as it is, without immediately reacting to it.  We are making space and in that space, we have the ability to choose our words and actions thereby benefitting the world, rather than adding to its suffering.  A short period of sitting every day is more beneficial than a long period of sitting once a week.  Don’t be discouraged.  After 9 years of meditating, I have noticed growth in my capacity to be with life and have seen my heart open more and more.  I wouldn’t have sought out instruction to be a teacher, if this weren’t the case.  And it is humbling, because other than committing to sitting and breathing, I have done nothing else to make this happen.  This is a nod to our true nature, which I believe is essentially good, that when we simply sit and allow the noise to fall away, to arise and then pass, the goodness of our hearts eventually comes forth.

I have recorded a brief 10-minute guided meditation as an introduction and instruction for you.

If you are new to meditation, I would also like to suggest my teacher’s book:  Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation by Susan Piver.

start-here-now

You may also want to connect with her teaching and instruction online at The Open Heart Project.

If you are interested in further exploration of the intersection of contemplative practice and social action/service, I’d also like to suggest The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path by Ethan Nichtern, who is also a teacher I admire and follow.  The last few chapters explore this more deeply.

the-road-home

Ethan has also written a wonderful 7-Point Practice Plan for Engaged Mindfulness to assist in self-care as we care for others in this difficult time.

Wishing you all well as we journey together.

May all beings be happy and at ease.
May all beings be free from suffering.

 

~ j

01.30.17