“Many of us are longing to experience a season of joy, but we feel winter’s darkness spreading in the midst of relentless violence, cruelty, and dehumanization. Here at the Revolutionary Love Project, we believe that if we pause to breathe together, we can find wisdom, even joy, inside the struggle.
This holiday season, we are excited to offer you a short series of video conversations with thought leaders in our movement who offer deep wisdom — Parker Palmer, America Ferrera, Sharon Brous, Traci Blackmon and more.
Here is your first gem! A conversation with author, activist, teacher and luminary Parker Palmer and our founder Valarie Kaur at Middle Church’s 2018 Revolutionary Love Conference. Parker and Valarie have developed a remarkable intergenerational friendship: He offers her insights drawn from decades of experience; she inspires him with a next-generation vision of fighting for justice. In the course of their friendship, Parker has come to call Valarie’s framework for Revolutionary Love “the new non-violence.”
Watch their conversation before a live audience as they reflect on life and death and love.”
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. [One] experiences [oneself] . . . as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of [one’s] consciousness. . . . Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. —Albert Einstein
“If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light” (Luke 11:34). That’s why the Buddha and Jesus say with one voice, “Be awake.” Jesus talks about “staying watchful”, and “Buddha” means “I am awake” in Sanskrit. —Richard Rohr
I began to discover that human maturity comes as we begin to bring out heads and hearts together.
-Humanitarian Jean Vanier
I have just three things to teach:
These three are your greatest treasures.
“It is incumbent on all of us to constantly protect it and the only way to do that is to exercise it. We can always choose to love rather than hate, support rather than withdraw, speak out rather than stay silent, and stand up for what we believe rather than lay down to a collective pressure that does not reflect our belief. Every time we choose not to do this we give it away.” Rev. Dr. Kenn Gordon
“If we see a person who is being crushed by a rock, the goal is not to get under the rock and feel what they are feeling; it is to help remove the rock.” Dalai Lama/The Book of Joy/p. 259
“I know that when I speak this word for myself, there is a direct reaction toward me. I know that when I speak it for others, there is a direct reaction toward them. There is no doubt or uncertainty in my consciousness.” Rev. Dr. Marilyn Leo
‘When all you have is the truth, if you degrade that truth, then you have nothing. […] Either be forthright or be silent. Proffer examples, testimony of things that have happened. […] Boldness, bravery and intellectual fearlessness – these are the qualities (we) need if we are to storm heaven.’ Mitch Horowitz/Science of Mind-July, p. 16
“‘Oh, no,’ we exclaim as we stand directly in the path of Source.’ ‘I’m too old, too young, too inexperienced, not the right size, shape or color, not educated enough, not lovable enough.’ Only when we let go of this nonsense and get out of our own way can our blessings come.” -Anne Bock
I am because you are, you are because I am.
It is something that I have always believed in that in the ignited space of our deepest suffering, in the release of our deepest fears, in the familiar peace of our deepest joys, we are each other. I have been finding it in every path, in every way … in Martin Buber’s sense of I-Thou, where only in keeping what-is-between-us real can God appear … in the gift of Jesus, where two or more of you come together, there I am … in the one compassion of Buddha … in the numinous love that ancient stones manage if we are still enough to bow to them. Ubuntu … I am because you are, even in how we live off the breath of plants, you are because I am, even in how plants live off our exhalations.
We need each other to be complete.
-Mark Nepo’s, The Book of Awakening
‘It’s a true story about caring and compassion, which we need more of today. [….] We’re all in uncharted territory right now.’
Yes, it’s about saving a bird’s life. But it’s about so much more, as depicted so beautifully in this video. ‘To care for one another is the reason we are here’ is the lyric that sums it up for me. The world has gone mad, and the simple things like love, compassion and caring have been overshadowed by hate and greed. This video shows how important we are to each other whilst showing how much worse things could get if we are not careful of each other and the planet where we live.”
-Rocker Peter Frampton
His “Frampton Comes Alive’ album sold over 8-million copies in 1976, considered one of the best live LP’s recorded.
It is Gandhi who eases my heart and reminds me (again) how we give love to the one who gives face to the greatest pain.
‘There is a story of Gandhi that reveals how profound and daring his sense of compassion was. It occurred during one of his famous hunger strikes. A man whose daughter was killed came in anguish, saying to Gandhi that he would stop fighting if the great soul would eat. But Gandhi knew the healing was deeper than just stopping the violence, and so he told the man he would eat only when the tormented father embraced the man who killed his daughter.
It is said that the man collapsed in tears, but did as Gandhi asked, and the larger conflict ended. This is an enormous thing to ask of someone in grief, of someone who has been violated. But beyond the vast courage needed to incorporate this kind of love into our daily lives, Gandhi’s request reveals the irrefutable wisdom that only when the broken are healed, no mater what they have done, will we as people heal.’
[Mark Nepo, The book of Awakening, p. 179]
Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, was my son’s friend at Reed College in Portland. Taliesin was a year older than my son, William; my son graduated just a few weeks ago. Taliesin’s girlfriend, Ellie, is a friend of our family’s. When my son first learned one of the victim’s in the Portland massacre was his friend he cried, “No. Not Taliesin.” He is crushed. And Ellie, broken.
When the the hate-filled and mis-guided man was arraigned in a Portland court and his outbursts recorded, I felt my heart harden. ‘Hate’ is a word that was not allowed to be spoken in our little family. My son and daughter were encouraged to find a different word, or express their thoughts in another way. The hate I was feeling surprised and confused me. When I first looked upon the face that could cause so much pain and alter so many lives for false ideology, I tried at that moment to understand what could have happened in his life to cause him to violently take the lives of two beautiful beings, gravely injure a third, and force two young girls to process this horrific event over the course of their lives. My son could not look upon his face.
Then, the hatred I felt for him, and for all in our country who have been given a fast lane to expose their bigoted and racist vitriol, began to manifest. This event, for me, is the final culmination of a depleting and damaging presidential campaign, and the subsequent reality of living in a country so divided and angry that I do not see a path forward under any peripheral leadership.
Guided by Universal grace I was reminded of Gandhi’s story, and my heart began to release the awful hate.
Taliesen, Rick Best, and Micah Fletcher stood up to hate and violence. They were brave and altruistic in motive and heart. They are true patriots, and what I believe America to be, or has the potential to be. We, too, as a nation, are broken. To heal, we must help and embrace, show kindness and compassion, interpersonally, and in our communities, every day. Every. Single. Day.
Taliesin and Ellie spent their last hours together working in their garden and sharing dinner in Taliesin’s new home. He created a community space for Ellie and their friends. He wanted to marry and have children. Together they hoped to plant a ‘Bleeding Heart’ bush, the one with the tiny heart-shaped flowers.
The fall-out from this tragedy has altered my own personal trajectory. I will not permit these deaths to be senseless, only a constant reminder of, as favorite professor Dr. David Peat reminded me, Infinite Potential. The potential of one love, one mind, one body, one spirit.
Thank you, Taliesin. For being a tender friend to my son, for reminding me in your transition the tremendous infinite possibility of kindness, compassion, and love.
My son and I toasted you the evening before he left for his own life’s potential.Here’s to you, sweet Taliesin. We will always feel your light, your grace, your gift, and your love.
“I see more clearly than ever before that my Divine birthright is freedom, peace, joy, and eternal goodness. I perceive that this same birthright is bequeathed to all people. This power I use for my own and every other person’s good.”
[Science of Mind]
The universe […] a world of endless possibility and endless cycle, a world in which life forms come and go, a world itself that has erupted and reformed countless times.
Although fairness and justice are beautiful gravities by which we as human creatures try to live with one another […] the molecules of experience do not understand what is fair. They just bombard us in the endless cosmic dance of life that just keeps happening.
Hindu tradition has a deity known as Vishnu, destroying and bestower of life…in that order.
Life is not fair, but unending in its capacity to change us; that compassion is fair and feeling is just; and that we are not responsible for all that befalls us, only for how we receive it and for how we hold each other up along the way.
‘I believe what the self-centered have torn down,
the other-centered will build up.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
“There are very few fences that can stop a determined person (or dog, for that matter).
Most of the time, the fence is merely a visual reminder that we’re rewarded for complying.
If you care enough, ignore the fence. It’s mostly in your head.”
Introduction to Walt Whitman’s journal, Specimen Days, by Leslie Jamison:
‘Whitman initially journeyed to the battlefields of the Civil War for personal reasons. After seeing a name he feared was his brother George listed among wartime casualties, in December 1962, he headed to Fredericksburg, where he discovered George had only suffered minor facial lacerations. But this was just the beginning. Whitman started visiting soldiers in hospitals-tens of thousand, all told-and doing what he could: writing letters to families, dressing wounds, bringing treats-rice pudding or blackberry syrup. He once distributed ice cream to all eighteen wards of Carver Hospital.
The goal of a life is to have nothing essential left by the time it leaves its body, the way a flame uses up its wick. This is not sad but as it should be.
Let’s be honest
which doesn’t mean
being harsh, but gentle.
Let’s be clear
which doesn’t mean being dispassionate, but
holding each other up
in the face of what is true.
Let’s be enduring
which doesn’t mean
being important or famous,
but staying useful like a wheel
worn by rain after years of
carrying each other’s burdens.
Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
This month is all about turning our focus away from anger, blame, self-judgment, hopelessness, frustration, fear and worry. These are all attitudes and emotions that belong to a lower vibration and they do not serve us at this time. We need to be turning ourselves in the direction of the higher vibration of COMPASSION if we are to be effective in our lives, with ourselves and with others.
The definition of COMPASSION is: “Sympathetic consciousness of others’ (or personal) distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”
COMPASSION is a state of being that helps us all remember that we are not separate, that we are all in this great game of life together and that going about it alone is not effective or rewarding.
COMPASSION is best practiced from a neutral state of non-judgment and a perfect follow up from November’s theme of forgiveness. With everything that is going on out there in the world today, the best way to use your time and energy this month is to focus on yourself with COMPASSION for all the ways you have judged, blamed, suffered, and felt powerless and ineffective.
If you truly want to “alleviate the distress” on the planet, you need to start with yourself. All change begins at home. When was the last time you were truly kind to yourself? Not just rewards and gifts, but true kindness?
KINDNESS is another theme this month that goes along with COMPASSION. It is easier to be kind when you have compassion and it is easy to be compassionate when you practice kindness. So they go along hand in hand.
As the big wheel of evolution slowly turns away from the young soul, goal oriented, combative struggle where there are winners and losers, it is the masculine energy in each one of us that needs the most compassion, kindness and healing. We are emerging from a cycle of over 2000 years where the masculine standards of production, success, taking action, winning competitions and doing whatever it takes to get to the top have been our guiding principles.
In this process the masculine in each one of us has taken a beating and needs a lot of kindness and compassion to heal its battle wounds. Many of us have turned away from our own masculine in reaction to the negative aspects we see being played out by the masculine out in the world. The masculine within is suffering and needs compassion and kindness, not judgment and rejection.
Healing the masculine is a theme that begins for us this month and will continue into next year and probably into the next several years.
As you reject the masculine and what it represents, you also reject the positive aspects of generosity, protection, boundaries, action, focus and appropriate will. These positive aspects of the masculine are necessary if we are to be effective in the world. So the work starts at home with yourself in healing your own masculine, your relationship with the masculine and reconnecting with all the positive aspects so you can be whole. If you are whole, it will be easier to be of service where and when needed.
Remember that evolution only goes in one direction and that we are in the process of completing one cycle and transitioning into the next. Our task this month is to hold the bigger picture, to take the higher road of compassion, to practice kindness, and to do what we can to begin the process of healing the masculine beginning with ourselves.
This month is all about helping yourself first. If you don’t have compassion and kindness for yourself, you cannot possibly practice it for others. So start with yourself this month. Review all the ways you have judged yourself for not being good enough, smart enough, known better, ineffective, not successful enough, not strong enough, not brave enough, not powerful enough, not perfect enough, not useful enough, the list goes on and on.
How have you judged yourself for not showing up, for feeing fearful, for missing opportunities, for not getting your life together, for staying in bad situations for too long, for being weak, for being indecisive, for not setting good boundaries, for not protecting yourself or putting yourself first?
This lack of compassion and kindness for yourself will keep you mired in this lower vibration especially if it includes blame, anger and resentment. This is the month to turn all of this around. There is much work to do on the self. It is easy to be distracted with “what is going on out there” in terms of injustice, negative behaviors and bad choices. You cannot do anything about that. You cannot change what is “going on out there” but you can change what is going on in your own home and your own life.
So this is a month to focus on personal change through compassion and kindness and the healing of your own masculine.
After reviewing all the ways you believe to have let yourself down, focus on the changes you wish to make. You might start with a simple commitment to set better boundaries or to speak up around your own truth or to make a plan of action to improve your life. It is also very important that you practice being in a higher vibration as much as you can. Beauty, wonder, awe, love, and of course compassion and kindness will always lead you to a higher vibration and a higher centered experience. After all this is a higher centered time when we have the opportunity to experience the lowest of the low and the highest of the high. You decide.
Relationships with others take a back seat to the relationship you have with yourself. “Me first” is the motto this month. Of course your other relationships will all benefit from the work that you do on yourself. Relationships in general have been challenged lately and fraught with a lot of projection, blame and confusion. Larger scale issues are being worked out and relationships are taking the hit.
It is important to remember that there is so much work going on now at a personal level that everyone needs a bit of space. Especially as we enter into the agreed upon social holiday time, don’t be afraid to say no and to limit your social interactions if you are needing time to yourself.
Treat all your relationships with compassion and kindness. This month kindness will go a long way to keep relationships from unnecessarily imploding. Give people room to grow, to change, to heal, to express their truth and to be creative in their own way. There is a lot of energy right now for change and it will be affecting some relationships. Stay out of fear and judgment and allow change if that is where the wind is blowing.
HEALTH AND THE PHYSICAL BODY
Compassion and Kindness, Compassion and Kindness, Compassion and Kindness. Our bodies have been through a lot and carried much for us. Mostly this month the body needs rest and rejuvenation. We don’t even know how exhausted we are. There has been so much work in the dreamtime collectively as our conscious personalities and bodies are “asleep”, that we don’t feel rested. We have been psychologically and psychically hypervigilant, holding a very big container for positive change and evolution and we are afraid to put it down. It is time to take a break and let what has been put into motion play itself out. The path is clear ahead of us and it is all about the personal healing we need to do on ourselves.
Health challenges this month could include fluctuations in energy levels with periods of great fatigue mixed with sleeplessness, physical agitation and restlessness. Knee and joint issues from the waist down are working out our masculine traits of moving forward and energetic mobility. Intermittent nausea and digestive issues are related to our will and the masculine energy of how we choose to show up in the world.
Take care of yourselves this month. You only have one body this lifetime and it deserves your kindness, compassion and love.
Being a very personally focused month, your personal environment is the most important thing on your “to do” list. You will experience a sense of power and accomplishment and purpose in changing or improving or fixing what is in your power to do. You cannot change what someone “out there” does or decides. But you can make changes and good choices and improvements to your own space and environment. When was the last time you took control of your personal environment, cleaned out the clutter and improved something that needing to be fixed?
Pace yourself this month both in your expectations as well as your physical output of energy in all the doing and fixing and changing you are inspired to do. Allow yourself to be guided by the environment you are in. If it is snowing outside, stay warm indoors if that is what your body wants. If it is sunny and warm, go out for a walk. If it is rainy or windy, honor the environment in the ways that it can support your own process of change, cleansing, or letting go of something. Practice working intimately with the environment instead of against it. This goes for all aspects of “environment”: physical, emotional, political, psychological, intellectual, global, personal and collective.
We are still in a highly creative period of time and although the creativity may seem to be very underground and hidden at this time, it may come out in the environment as weather anomalies, unexpected events, extreme temperatures and wild weather systems. Enjoy it!
This is a good month to focus on the foundations of your business and projects. What was the inspiration behind your ideas, choices and action? Is there anything that needs to be revisited or changed or refined? Take and inventory of everything that is working and serving you best as well as what is not serving or needs to be changed or eliminated. This is about acknowledging what YOU need and how your personal business, partnerships and projects will serve YOU first. Is your life task being supported?
As you inventory be careful not to judge or blame and remember that compassion and kindness goes a long way to healing what may not have been addressed that needs some clearing. It is a good month to tell the truth to others about what it truly important to you, and to tell the truth to yourself about what is not important to you that may be important to others.
There is great support for working on details, sealing up energy leaks and setting good boundaries. There is a fine line between functional community involvement on a project, and a dysfunctional free for all with no boundaries. I am reminded of the various experiments of the late 60’s with the communes, free love, and the break-down of social and economic boundaries. We are in a similar time but with hopefully more maturity and spiritual consciousness. These are indeed interesting times and it should be inspiring to all of us to think about the possibilities of what we can collectively create for our future.
December 1-7: It is a week of self-focus and taking care of the body, mind and spirit. The best use of this time is to keep your eye on the small goals you can easily accomplish as well as to practice being on that higher road of compassion whenever possible. Whether you are in the grocery store becoming irritated at the incompetency of the cashier or the confusion of the person in line in front of you, or witnessing an argument or inappropriate aggression among others, stay in the field of kindness and compassion. No one WANTS to be like that. But many are lost. If you can practice being in a higher state and a higher center, it will have a ripple effect.
Another good practice during this week is the “inner smile”. If you heart can smile and you can radiate that smile outward, that is the inner smile. It is effective, can bring you joy and possibly even a desire to smile outwardly. And it will certainly support a higher vibration and a higher centered state.
December 8-15: This could be a week of confusion, depression, energetic ups and downs, one day feeling hopeful and good about your practices and the next day in despair about all the things you cannot change. The only way past these challenges is through. The only way to navigate is to acknowledge the feelings and then do your practices of compassion, kindness and taking care of yourself anyway despite how unmotivated you feel.
Keep your tasks small and doable. Set boundaries when appropriate and protect yourself from the conjectures, projections and negativity of others. This is a good week for one on one interactions that are meaningful and to make plans and set intentions about how you want to feel in your life in the future.
Even though the month is very much about you personally and much of the energy is focused within, there are times that support community. The powerful time around the Full Moon moves us into a more expansive picture of sharing our vision and prayers with others on the same page and compassion and kindness are the magnetic force that will bring people together for a common cause.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.
Spend some time today being inspired by your own life. Forget about what others are doing for a moment and focus on what you are doing and what you wish to do. Are you true to yourself, your spiritual and moral compass, and your true desires? If not, why not?
Acknowledge all experiences as useful even if uncomfortable. For things happening in your life that are less than “great”, adopt the following attitude: “Do I like it? No. Does it feel good? Not really. Is it necessary? Probably.”
And most of all, have gratitude for all of it. After all, it is a great ride.
December 16-22: This is a time frame to work on relationship. Relationship with your body, with yourself, with your masculine, with your right work, your right action, with your unique personality and with your personal environment. Have you had enough gratitude for yourself and your life lately?
Stay close to home and pay attention to the details that may come up during this time that require your attention especially in the area of your personal environment. This is the time that supports fixing, changing, refining and improving what you can and have the power to do. Instead of worrying about what you can’t change, focus on what you can.
Mercury goes retrograde on the 19th to support even more focus on detail and clear communication. Set good boundaries around your time and energy and work on eradicating the habitual energy leaks that tend to surface around perceived obligations at this time of year.
December 21: Winter Solstice is Wednesday, December 21 at 3:44 AM. Solstice time is always a good reset and transition time. We move from the darkest time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) to the first day of bringing back the light. Especially this year, the significance of bringing in more light is palpable.
Honor this solstice by anchoring something you are transitioning into. It could be a new relationship, project, practice, or way of thinking. There is much that remains the same as we enter into a new cycle but what can change is the foundational patterns underlying all the judgments of the past. The way we see and perceive the world can be radically different if we allow it to be. This is the bigger picture that wants to seduce us to be more inspired, more creative and more hopeful. It is all possible.
December 23-31: The focus of this time is on clarity. Clarity of truth, clarity of what brings you joy, clarity of your direction, clarity of what needs to be complete and what needs your attention. This is a good time of year to make an inventory of anything that just does not feel right and decide what you are going to do about it. Watch for health issues around joints and bones during this time as the main “structures” supporting your body.
Part of your inventory should include an assessment of all the structures in your life and whether they are supporting you in ways that serve you or not. Structures are also containers and you might find that some have leaks, some are too small and some don’t hold together because they are just not meant to be. The categories are anything from relationships to work to study to personal environment to new projects, old projects, health support, where you get your knowledge and information and who you go to for any kind of support. When you find something lacking, instead of getting upset or self-judging about it, practice the compassion of the month and be kind to yourself and to others that you perceive to have “let you down”.
Wellbeing 2.0 for Health Care Professional Conference with Dr. James Doty
Fri., Oct. 28th
7 am to 4:30 pm
Virginia Mason Medical Center
While science has made great strides in treating pathologies of the human mind, far less research exists to date on positive qualities of the human mind including compassion, altruism and empathy. Yet these prosocial traits are innate to us and lie at the very centerpiece of our common humanity. Our capacity to feel compassion has ensured the survival and thriving of our species over millennia. For this reason, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine was founded in 2008 with the explicit goal of promoting, supporting, and conducting rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior. Founded and directed by Dr. James Doty, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, CCARE is established within the Department of Neurosurgery. To date, CCARE has collaborated with a number of prominent neuroscientists, behavioral scientists, geneticists and biomedical researchers to closely examine the physiological and psychological correlates of compassion and altruism.
‘Yoga is a tool for change. Rooted in compassion and connection, we are called to awaken to suffering and take action in response, creating peaceful, just, and connected global community. How will you take your yoga off the mat and into the world?’