Ahimsa.January 12, 2021
[A 10-year-old girl’s letter to the police officer seen being crushed in the insurrection riot at the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021.]
“Sorrow is my meditation.” -Dr. Jan Peppler
‘Our suffering has been trying to communicate with us, to let us know it is there, but we have spent a lot of time and energy ignoring it.
The suffering inside us contains the suffering of our fathers, our mothers, and our ancestors.
Our suffering reflects the suffering of the world.
Understanding suffering always brings compassion.’
-Thich Nhat Hanh
We are beaten and blown by the wind, blown the wind, oh when I go there, I go there with you, it’s all I can do.
‘Despite the terrific beating we were experiencing at the hands of fate, each of us still living out his faith. Even in the presence of extraordinary pain, we were taking right action, we were attending to our practice, each in her own way.
As I listened to the lyrics of this song, the depth of my commitment to my own spiritual path became clear to me.
Marianne Williamson, in her spiritual guidebook a Return to Love, “If you want to end darkness, you cannot beat it with a baseball bat, you have to turn on the light.”
We do not need to enter a showdown with our self-destructive behavior, nor can we deny its existence. We must simply come to now it, and move on. We learn to focus wholeheartedly on positive behavior.’
-Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison
Additionally, ahimsa/non-violence practiced not only in behavior and thought, but also a vow to disrupt violence.
From Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, lawyer, author, and professor: “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation.”
From yoga teacher, practitioner, author and activist Seane Corn.
I intended this letter to be about the New Year, wishing you all the brightest and the best for 2021.
Sadly, so quickly into the year, the Capitol building in the US was assaulted by domestic terrorists, and, once again, this nation is in trauma and turmoil.
I am devastated by the events in DC and horrified by the people who caused so much suffering to democracy in the US. It’s tragic but not surprising. It felt like it was moving in this direction for a very long time.
Although this moment in history is sad and discouraging, I continue to commit to re-imagining a future that is happy, healthy, and peaceful for ALL and holding on to hope that justice will prevail and healing will occur for us in the US and throughout the world.
I hope you are doing okay. That you are breathing, staying in communication with your friends, family, and support system, and doing your yoga, meditation, and healing work.
I am sending you so much love to you and your family.
The world cries out for compassion.
Ahimsa.January 4, 2021
In thought, language, and behavior.
“We must disrupt harm whenever we encounter it.”
-Yogi & Activist Seane Corn
‘New arts, new sciences, new philosophies, better government, and a high civilization wait on our thoughts. The infinite energy of Life, and the possibility of our future evolution, work through our imagination and will. The time is ready the place is where we are now, and it is done unto all as they really believe and act.’
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:
‘Fuse the powers of the sacred heart with the energies of the body, and you can transform everything.’
2 Corinthians 4:16/The Message:
‘So, we’re not giving up. How could we! Even thought on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where GAIA is making new life, not a day goes by without Her unfolding grace.’
Rolph Gates & Katrina Kenison:
‘At a Native American gathering in Arizona for the 1999 summer solstice, a Hopi elder said: “There is a river flowing now, very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves, for the moment we do that, our spiritual growth comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves; banish the work ‘struggle’ from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred way and in celebration. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.’
The Enlightened Heart, p. 86:
‘With the happiness held in one inch-square heart you can find the whole space between heaven and earth.’
Hildegard of Bingen:
‘Divinity is in its omniscience and omnipotence like a wheel, a circle, a whole, that can neither be understood, nor divided, nor begun, nor ended.’
‘Each person is born with an unencumbered spot…free of expectation and regret…free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry…an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God, Spirt, Sophia, Gaia.
It is this spot of grace that issues pace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love.
To know this spot of Indwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work to what we wear how how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it.
This is our lifeline task, for the nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we’ve been, while nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential.
Each of us lives in the midst of this ongoing tension, growing tarnished or covered over, only to be worn back to the incorruptible spot of grace at our core.
When the film is worn through, we have moments of enlightenment, moments of whiteness, moment of satori, as the Zen sages term int, moments of clear loving when inner meets outer, moments of full integrity of being, moments of complete Oneness.
And whether the film is a veil of culture, of memory, of mental or religious training, of trauma or sophistication, the removal of that film and the restoration of that timeless spot of grace is the goal of all therapy and education.
Fr Richard Rohr:
‘The real question is “What does this have to say to me?” Those who are totally converted come to every experience and ask not whether or not they liked it, but what does it have to teach them. “What’s the message or gift in this for me? How is God in this event? Where is God in this suffering?” This is a prayer of unveiling, asking that the cruciform shape of reality be revealed to us within the very shape and circumstances of our own lives.’
“God is setting us a big challenge.”November 14, 2020
A celebrated moral thinker and renowned Judaic intellect, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks died last week at 72 from cancer.
“The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the fears of other—in that sharing of vulnerabilities, discovering a genesis of hope.”
When Krista Tippett, On Being, spoke with Lord Sacks in 2010, he modeled a life-giving, imagination-opening faithfulness to what some might see as contradictory callings: How to be true to one’s own convictions while also honoring the sacred and civilizational calling to shared life — indeed, to love the stranger?
Krista: You’ve made a statement. I think it’s audacious: “The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the fears of others, and in that sharing of vulnerabilities, discovering a genesis of hope.” Now as someone who conducts conversation for a living, I love that statement. I wonder how you know that to be true — that the antidote to violence is conversation.
Lord Sacks: Listening gives each of the two parties the feeling that they are heard, and once they’re heard, they can then begin to speak what they really feel. And then they can begin to realize that there are things they still care about in common.
Sometimes I think what would happen if we generated real conversations at the grassroots level between the people whose lives are really affected?
The real conflicts arise when our minds are focused on the past.
I think God is setting us a big challenge, a really big challenge. We are living so close to difference with such powers of destruction that he’s really giving us very little choice. You know, to quote that great line from W.H. Auden, “We must love one another or die.”
So I am full of hope as we face the greatest challenge humanity ever has.
From Sarah Ivy Arters.August 23, 2019
May our prayers and our altars come together to calm the spirits of the fire in the Amazon – Sacred Temple of mystery and native jungle, lung of mother earth, place of power, home of ancestral tribes!
May our songs call the sacred water of rain, which are heard by the guardians of this place!!
Let human beings open the heart, to wake up and not sleep, to honor mother earth with each of our acts and not allow this to happen more times. Let’s send love, strength and peace to the peoples, to the animals, to the ancient trees…
Let us know in every way possible to listen to us, we need to echo the order of so many indigenous peoples who have already been giving alarm signs on the atrocities that are committed in the name of development.
How many more places have to be devastated for the ” good of humanity “, for the ” well being ” misunderstood of societies? Shattered by the policies of incapable governments! Let’s ask our authorities to act in favor of life and not against it!!
Let us act to the extent of our possibilities!! from our prayer, from our altar, from our sacred matrices that give life..
Let us remember that we are one being… that we are the extension of mother earth and what happens in it, anywhere happens in our body!
Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation:
Nonviolence is the universal ethic at the heart of creation.
V O T EMay 16, 2016
Ahimsa in action.February 8, 2016
The Yoga Sutra is not presented in an attempt to control behavior based on moral imperatives. The sutras don’t imply that we are “bad” or “good” based upon our behavior, but rather that if we choose certain behavior we get certain results. If you steal, for example, not only will you harm others, but you will suffer as well.
The first yama is perhaps the most famous one: ahimsa, usually translated as “nonviolence.” This refers not only to physical violence, but also to the violence of words or thoughts. What we think about ourselves or others can be as powerful as any physical attempt to harm. To practice ahimsa is to be constantly vigilant, to observe ourselves in interaction with others and to notice our thoughts and intentions. Try practicing ahimsa by observing your thoughts when a smoker sits next to you. Your thoughts may be just as damaging to you as his cigarette is to him.
It is often said that if one can perfect the practice of ahimsa, one need learn no other practice of yoga, for all the other practices are subsumed in it. Whatever practices we do after the yamas must include ahimsa as well. Practicing breathing or postures without ahimsa, for example, negates the benefits these practices offer.
Non-violence. And this.September 14, 2015
300 applicants wanted to serve on the Ferguson commission. The governor of Missouri chose 16. A 21-year-old community activist was one. Rasheed Aldridge. Our millennials want change.
The Huffington Post:
‘Sometimes, especially shortly after the establishment of the commission, protesters and other community members would disrupt meetings to share concerns about the commission simply being a distraction. The commission’s youngest member, 21-year-old Rasheen Aldridge, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he initially thought the commission “was just a way to really not get to the serious issues” but has since changed his mind.’
‘In the early days, he said, “the president (Obama), in my opinion, didn’t really step up to the plate.”
“But I remember when I was invited to the White House and he sat in the room with me and other activists and we talked about race and we talked about change that we wanted to see,” Aldridge said, “I could see in the president’s face that he was tired of having this conversation — that he really wanted to have some change happen.”
“I think after Ferguson, the president, he’s been hitting hard on race recently. And I appreciate it. I understand sometimes it is tough,” Aldridge said.’
Maria Papova/Brain Pickings:
MLK & the Birmingham Jail Letter
‘In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: 1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive; 2) negotiation; 3) self-purification; and 4) direct action.’
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
‘History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and give up their unjust posture; but … groups are more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed’