Joanna Macy – heart wisdom

Joanna Macy, a wonderful Buddhist teacher with many years of deep practice and profound teachings, shares this wisdom on the dark times we live in. I’m paraphrasing…

These times, The Great Turning, call for Shambala Warriors wielding the twin weapons of Compassion and Insight – Compassion to provide the heat and motivation to get out there and do what needs to be done and the cooling wisdom of Insight into the ‘radical inter-dependence of all phenomena.’ And we must understand that it is not a war between the good guys and the bad guys, but that ‘the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart.’

Deep wisdom that only true practice can help us bring into the world.

Joanna shares this in her movie, The Great Turning, and this clip is available to view on Vimeo – Joanna Macy on the Shambala Warrior.

Metta for All Beings

In these dark times, times that demand such awareness and commitment to strong action, we need to build each others’ heart strength for the suffering we will encounter, for the hard work we will do, for the long struggle we must endure.

One way of building this strength is to send out heart-felt messages to others, spoken and unspoken messages that come from the meditative state and have power to spread encouragement and support. In some Buddhist traditions, this process is known as metta, which is usually translated ‘loving kindness’, but goes far beyond that when part of a deep practice of compassion and compassionate action.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel composed this poem, whose words speak to us so strongly in light of recent words and actions, in the spirit of that powerful form of metta:

 

For All Beings

May all beings be cared for and loved,

Be listened to, understood and acknowledged despite different views,

Be accepted for who they are in this moment,

Be afforded patience,

Be allowed to live without fear of having their lives taken away or their bodies violated.

May all beings

Be well in its broadest sense,

Be fed,

Be clothed,

Be treated as if their life is precious,

Be held in the eyes of each other as family.

May all beings

Be appreciated,

Feel welcomed anywhere on the planet,

Be freed from acts of hatred and desperation including war, poverty, slavery, and street crimes,

Live on the planet, housed and protected from harm,

Be given what is needed to live fully, without scarcity,

Enjoy life, living without fear of one another,

Be able to speak freely in a voice and mind of undeniable love.

May all beings

Receive and share the gifts of life,

Be given time to rest, be still, and experience silence.

May all beings

Be awake.

The poem was published in Turning Wheel by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in 2009. May it be spoken, heard, understood and enacted throughout the world.

Metta!

Key elements of fascism

Because fascism is such an insidious thing, we must be vigilant and well-informed about how it looks in the early stages, before it’s too late.

Fascism has been sneaking into our lives, into the hearts and minds of our countrymen, slipping into the national dialog in the guise of patriotism, strength, purity, religious piety, safety – all things that seem positive and non-threatening.

Trump and his appointees are pretty clearly leading us to an authoritarian state in the name of protecting us from “outsiders” and that’s why it’s problematic. From Dave Neiwert, a researcher on fascism who’s been following its rise for many years, here are a few of the characteristics that struck me as particularly noticeable in the current political climate:

— Attempted mass mobilization with militarization of political relationships and style and with the goal of a mass party militia
— Positive evaluation and use of, or willingness to use, violence
— Extreme stress on the masculine principle and male dominance, while espousing the organic view of society

— Specific tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal style of command, whether or not the command is to some degree initially elective. — [from Stanley Payne, in Fascism: Comparison and Definition]

— a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal constraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. [from Robert Paxton’s definition of fascism]

From Paxton’s “mobilizing passions” of fascism:

— the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against the group’s enemies, both internal and external;

— dread of the group’s decline under the corrosive effect of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences;

— the need for authority by natural leaders (always male), culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s destiny;

— the superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason;

From Roger Griffin: “Fascism rejects liberal ideas such as freedom and individual rights, and often presses for the destruction of elections, legislatures, and other elements of democracy.”

Neiwert’s entire essay is worth reading: http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2015/11/donald-trump-may-not-be-fascist-but-he.html

Journalists still held in ND

While Amy Goodman and Shailene Woodley have been released after their arrests in ND for the Standing Rock protests, several other filmmakers are still being held and are facing serious charges:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/20/north-dakota-oil-pipeline-protest-film-makers-face-prison

This assault on freedom of the press is clearly motivated by the pressure to stop the protests and keep us in the dark about what’s happening with this pipeline. I feel ready to scream.

Trump as baba

A quite insightful little article from Patricia Pearce, Your Spiritual Teacher in Disguise, portrays the T-man as a symbol of ego, and contains this wonderful paragraph:

In the world’s dream, the United States is the Donald Trump of nations, and our spiritual teacher is helping us see how we must appear to others—believing we are better than they are, and that our wealth, influence, and military force make us great. Is it any wonder that such bravado would evoke attack from others who are caught up in the ego’s inverted world of hatred, division and violence?*

Clearly, there are lessons we need to learn from the ascendance of a fascistic leader in American politics, and none is more important than that one! We will continue to be the victim of terrorist attacks as long as we go around in the world in this way.

(Thanks to my friend Don at www.remember-to-breathe.org for sharing this article!)

Loving the world

Well into my second week being mostly off the media grid, I’m feeling a recovery of the feelings of beauty and wonder that constitute love for the world… at least most of the time!

Finding that beauty, wonder and love in all the grit and grime is the real challenge. I am working on building my strength, working on being able to engage fully without losing that sense of the worth intrinsic in life.

The universe gave me a little nudge in that direction a few days ago when I came across this beautiful passage written by a friend, Sonya Huber:

A concrete loading dock doesn’t ask anything of you, doesn’t demand that you agree with its crazy stories or its lies–and that is love, after all. It will wrap you in the baked-cookie smell of rain on warm asphalt, the earth as industrial rows of monocrop corn stretching on either side of the highway. It will give you billboard-sized abstract paintings in layers of faded paint and chipped brick and colors that haven’t been named yet. You can read a philosophy on those surfaces, can vaguely make out the palimpsest of hope in the foreign language of a splash of yellow that somehow survived around those lovely pockmarked metal walls.

Ah yes, finding beauty, love, philosophy, hope even, in industrial concrete! What a gift!

This is practice in its highest form.

The paragraph is from Love and Industry, Sonya’s winning entry in the Terrain.org Non-fiction writing contest from back in 2013, which I had missed, probably because I was going to really need to hear it in August of 2016, and would not likely have gone back to read it had I already done so. The universe is clever like that. At least it comforts me to think so.

However, why ever, it happened, it happened. I read it. And it was very meaningful for me… helpful in those little ways friends and writers have of supporting us through the dark moments when all seems lost. Reminding us that love doesn’t always come with hearts and flowers and pink lace doilies.

It’s a great piece, still so perfect for these times three years later.

I must confess, I had to look up palimpsest – tho I had an inkling of its meaning, the full definition is instructive: “a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.”

It’s a wonderful image. An image true to so much of life, especially in these times. So much of what we have thought for some time to be true and unalterable has been scraped away by the edges of life’s movement, and perhaps it is yet just the flailing about of our crushed longings, but something new is being written on the old forms, something perhaps better and more true.

If we keep our eyes and our hearts open, maybe we’ll survive these latest insanities and move on to create that more beautiful world, one that is easier to love, but in the meantime, we have to keep loving the world as it is.

As Sonya says, “What else is there to love?”

Perspective on the scene

A few days of ignoring the news, especially the political news, has done wonders for my attitude! I feel lighter, and much more relaxed. Of course, I’m not advocating an ostrich approach to the tenor of the times, but dropping back for a bit seems to have the added advantage of giving me a better perspective on the current scene.

And this year, perspective is everything.

My blogger friend Rosie, a British ex-pat of sorts – she and her husband are both retired from some executive-type jobs and live in Spain somewhere – brings such amazing perspective on the current American political sideshow, as well as having a right proper insight into the British insanity of the moment, Brexit. She’s been a bit too busy with life lately to do much blogging, but she shares her commentary with me from time to time, and I find it quite enlightening.

“In the UK, sadly, it’s those who are desperate to turn back the clock who will suffer most as Brexit unfolds,” she said to me soon after the exit vote. She blames the leaders for not bothering to really explain things to the English voters. “It’s difficult to explain that the world has moved on, especially when you have the likes of Trump and Boris Johnson trying to further their own personal positions regardless of the rest of us. Hillary and her supporters need to show understanding of and empathy with the disenchanted, whilst demonstrating that Trump could never deliver what they hope for. The intellectual superiority and patronising attitude lost the referendum for the Remain campaign in Britain. I only hope Hillary does better…”

Rosie (that’s not her name, but she said I could call her that, as she blogs under the name Ramblinrosemaryann!) sees lots of similarities between the Brexit vote and the support for Trump. “Both sides in the [Brexit] campaign lied and/or exaggerated, but that apart, it seems there is a significant section of UK society that feels ‘left behind.’ Generally older, male and blue collar, their traditional occupations (mining, steel, heavy industry) have all but disappeared,” she said.

“They feel they have lost their place in society and their communities have been left to decline. Even if they and their children get service sector work, they can’t feel pride in it. The gap between them and the progressive, pluralist multi-culture grows wider daily. It’s been happening over decades, but the EU referendum gave them a chance to exercise a protest vote. They genuinely believed the clock could be turned back to the 1970s.”

This seems to me to be just what is happening in the US – just the same motivation. People who feel indignant, left out, economically side-tracked and culturally abandoned have turned to Trump without much real analysis of what it would mean for them should he actually be elected. Of course, that seems a more and more remote possibility, but these people aren’t going away and their feelings are not going to change unless Hillary really jumps into a progressive agenda, which seems unlikely.

“It’s too easy to say, ‘tough, the world has moved on’ – manufacturing isn’t coming back from China anytime soon!” Rosie said. “Something has to be done for the genuine concerns of these people. Building walls across the English Channel and the Mexican border might sound attractive to some, but can never be the answer.”

Though the British have begun to revisit the vote and some suggest it should be re-voted, while others say the implementation still can be avoided, it seems to be going forward. Let’s hope we don’t get into that here. I do understand those who can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, but I’m still feeling the risk is too great to support a full-scale third party movement in this election.

But as many are beginning to suggest, including Bernie, we must begin to build a true progressive alliance on the ground in the US, and we must address the issues that are driving the fascist appeal. Otherwise we’ll be facing some other, probably slicker and more palatable, authoritarian candidate in the next election.

And then it will be too late to do anything about it.