Week Six – Befriending

Week Six – Befriending.

Am sharing a great post from my blogging friend in Spain, Rosemary.

I recommend going back and reading from the beginning – that’s just how I am – but this is a wonderful post on it’s own as well. She’s doing lots of great work in her meditation, and we’ve been sharing notes on the difficulties of practice, which has been very helpful to me in getting back on board my own practice.

This post is on metta practice, which is probably an essential practice for anyone who wants to meditate, and probably a very good place to begin a practice. But go read “ramblinrosemaryann’ on “almostdroppedout’ and see for yourself.

“We can end war.”

“We can end war,” says Robert Koehler. And for the sake of our children, all children, we should.

As a father, on this Father’s Day 2013, I want to make this priority in the remaining years of my life: to end war on Earth, to believe that it’s possible and to help others to come to believe that it’s possible to end war.

For the sake of our children, how can I not?

Koehler says, “We can shut down this system of self-perpetuating violence and geopolitical chicken. We can dismantle the glory machine and redefine patriotism.” (Buzz Flash commentary.) Which is a key element in ending it – ending the notion that we who have participated in war are somehow heroic and should be glorified, honored, venerated for it. That we somehow were protecting freedom, democracy, our nation – anything – is a popular fiction generated by the war machine and those who profit from it.

The father’s day posts on the net are filled with images of soldiers and children, thanking them, glorifying them, honoring them. Which is very sad to me. I feel no glory, no honor in my participation. Only shame and guilt that I was not strong enough to say no and take the consequences.

The hard work of protecting our freedoms, our democracy, must be done here at home in the hearts and minds of our countrymen, helping them all to see their true citizenship is global, their true patriotism is to life and the Earth that supports it, not to some national idea. Nations and patriotism were born in war – the Hundred Years War, especially, when Englishmen and Frenchmen first began to think of themselves as such, primarily as contrasted to the ‘other’ whom they sought to destroy. (Read Hugo Grotius) To end war, we must end our mindless nationalism.

Koehler says that Judith Hand, an evolutionary biologist, writes in a proposal called “Moving From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Nonviolence: A Proposed Plan of Action To Shape History,” that the most important thing is to believe that it’s possible. Hand has a plan, and an organization, FACE – For All Children Everywhere – dedicated to ending war.

Hand’s website details this plan, and presents lots of resources. I’m making a commitment today to check into it. And I’m suggesting that all the fathers out there do the same.

Koehler suggests this starting point:

“We can look into the eyes of children, those we know and those we don’t know, and vow to protect them. We can start caring again about future generations and bring their well-being into our thoughts and plans.”

I think Father’s Day is the perfect time to do this.


Feeling grief

How long has it been?

Sometimes it seems only last week that my mother died, tho it’s been over 18 months. But the ache comes back at times with such intensity that I feel it may never go away.

Just this morning I was reduced to tears and sobbing by the simple act of pouring cream into a glass of iced coffee. My mother loved iced coffee. With cream, but “only if it’s not stirred!” she always said. She loved the way the cream swirled into the dark coffee.

Watching it swirl in my coffee this morning, I could remember her sitting at my kitchen counter, holding her glass up to admire the cream swirling among the ice cubes. I’ll never see that again, except in my mind.

Why that creates such exquisite pain I can’t explain. Grief is such a complex thing. It swirls through one’s life like the heavy white cream lazily drifting around the ice cubes in the black coffee, slowly, ever so slowly blending in, settling at the bottom over time – until you pick up the glass and tip it to sip, then the swirling begins again. And only after many tips and swirls does it finally blend in totally, becoming part of one’s life.

Meditation practice, particularly Vipassana practice, helps with the process.

As I felt the stabs of pain brought on by the recollections of my mother this morning, I was able to move to that quiet place in my mind where I observed each level and layer of sensation: beginning with the constriction of the throat, the sting of tears, moving on through the ragged breath, the pressure inside my head, the tightness in the abdomen, the contortions of the facial muscles, then sobs shaking my body.

I was home alone, so I could just release, accept, not resist and supress. I sat down in the window seat and just held my face in my hands, letting it roll through me. It was not a fun moment, not one I would invite back in, but it was — well, it was just sensation.

And somehow, though I was certainly experiencing it fully, and the tears were real, there was in that quiet place the ability to focus on each sensation with the understanding that it was all gonna be okay. I don’t suppose that made it hurt any less, but I think it made it pass more quickly and not leave any scars on my morning.

I think it was the many hours on the cushion, many hours in simple life situations, practicing being aware of sensation that made me able to be aware of those sensations. And each time I go through one of these experiences, it seems to get a bit easier. The sankharas there are eased a bit.

One day maybe I’ll be able to remember those moments and just smile. Ah, Mother, I love you so much!