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Category Archives: Interbeing

 

Sunday 3/21/20

Dawn blossoms

There was a great article in the Washington Post this morning, which describes how the Covid-19 virus is impacting refugees in Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.  

We INTER-ARE!  No one is exempt from illness or death because of education or wealth.  The privileged are also impacted by the spread of this disease among the poor.  The poor, the homeless, refugees, prisoners, victims of war are at more immediate risk than those with the resources to “distance” in homes, with savings unaffected by the crashing stock market.  They will be able to buy food and medical supplies, some hoarding what others need to stay alive.  As always.  Yet, this crisis provides insight for all of us – to see that we are one world, one small planet that is under threat, that the privileged must help the poor in order to save their own lives.

The compulsion of the few to accumulate more than necessary deprives the many of the basics of food, clean water, land, shelter, medical and educational supplies.  This lack of understanding of our inter-dependence is harming us all, has been killing us for decades.  Destroying our planet.  So perhaps Mother Earth is fighting back, reducing the number of parasites creating pollution, global warming and desertification.  Perhaps we are receiving a powerful message that the actions of one affects the many and the needs of the many are the responsibility of the one.  There is really no separation.

There will be good outcomes from this crisis.  Lotuses arise from mud.  Already pollution has lessened dramatically in China and Italy.  The maps showing the changes are amazing!  We are perhaps learning from quarantining that we don’t really need so many things, so much buying, driving, working, entertainment.  Most of us Americans would be healthier without so much food, so many cars, distractions from the important relationships in our lives.  Perhaps the examples of generosity, the courage of medical personnel and musicians performing on their porches will help transform our notion of separateness from the whole of humanity.

We are asked to be very mindful of our smallest actions in order to save our lives and those of any human being with whom we have contact.  Mindfulness of what we touch, including our own faces, where we breathe and sneeze is critical to stopping the spread of this deadly disease.  Washing our hands frequently, slowly, carefully is becoming a universal practice of mindfulness.  Trying to stay at least 10-12 feet away from the breath of any other person is a challenge on now crowded pathways in parks.  We must be mindful of the air we breathe in and the passing of air from our bodies to other people.  As we pay attention to our own breath and that of others close to us, we also know that so many are taking their last breath.  As we wash our hands, we are mindful of those in refugee camps who have to choose between washing hands or using water to cook food.

Some in our mindfulness communities are using the phrase ‘Karuna virus” to remind us of all the beautiful forms of compassion arising from this pandemic.  Neighbors are helping the elderly to receive food and medicine, on-line meetings for alcoholics and addicts arise, family members and friends are connecting more often.  One of the highlights of our day was seeing the delight on a 2-year-old’s face when sprinkled with mist from our garden hose.  She had been trained not to come close to us, but we could connect and laugh together at a distance.

Our communities are quickly learning on-line skills to set up meditations, sharing of teachings on impermanence, inter-being and non-self, the basic insights of mindfulness meditation.  The Universe is teaching us everyday how inter-connected we are, that using this time of quarantine to connect to others is bringing us all more peace, joy, love and happiness.  Some of us are reframing this time as a global “retreat,” a time for spiritual practices that reduce fear and isolation.  We are learning more deeply how fear and greed separate us and how love and selflessness spread the ‘virus’ of compassion.  

“May each of you, and all creatures on our Mother Earth be well, healthy, safe and free from all worry and anxiety – even now, in this challenging yet precious moment.” (Recited slowly, this ’metta’ takes about the 20 seconds you need to wash your hands).

Image may contain: plant, tree, sky, flower, outdoor and nature

What great beauty blooms amidst the largest numbers of deaths in our state, our country, our world in so many years. My husband and I walked slowly, breathing to our steps this gorgeous spring morning, confining ourselves to neighboring streets, in awe of new buds on trees. We breathed through our masks, crossing the street when a toddler and his parents came toward us, waving to the the small new walker.

Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh assures us that finding joy in sorrow, peace in crisis, smiles in the midst of illness and death is our nature, the nature of no birth, no death. The deaths are real, the suffering is vast, yet we breathe mindfully, touching the reality of sadness in our hearts while enjoying the sunshine and flowers. Being human allows us to accept reality as it comes, to embrace life in this present moment in all its contradictory emotions. We stand up against lies and cruel decisions of government, while sending loving kindness to the same unskillful leaders of our government. One small, mindful step at a time.

Image may contain: plant, tree, flower, outdoor and nature

Hands on Rock photo

My affirmation for August is “Be me, be still, be present to this moment.”  My husband took the photo of my hands doing Sunlight #5 on Sligo Creek this morning.  I am so grateful for the privilege of time and energy to practice journaling, Qi Gong outdoors and meditation with him every morning.

National and world news holds new daily horrors, challenges to stand up to racism, violence and insanity.  Friends keep dying or developing Alzheimers.  Yet the creek flows, the sun rises, the dogs pull their people to exercise, babies learn to walk.  All the joy, peace and beauty exists within the suffering.  How important to touch the ultimate, the tiny flower of each moment, no matter what. No matter what.

MLK monument

Many of my great teachers are small in stature but huge in spirit, in courage, in their actions for peace and social justice.  This photo of Martin Luther King, I took last week at his memorial reminds me of the importance of standing up to current insanity, lies and blatant greed in our government, to the harm planned by gutting the Medicaid program for millions.  A powerful reading from Together We are ONE by Thich Nhat Hanh this morning reminded me that Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa were physically small people with actions that still resound around the world and in our hearts.    Larry Ward’s article in that wonderful book was a call to action – huge action by each one of us.  He asked the question, “How can we NOT be as big” as our teachers?  We stand on the shoulders of giants!  Their courage and insights are in us.  “Our actions matter, our thoughts matter, our speech matters, because they live on when we have disappeared.  Our actions, our thoughts, our speech are continued in the stream of time and space, and also go beyond time and space.” (p. 131).

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What we water in ourselves is what grows into this world, right?  If there is violence, racism, ideas of “me,” “mine”and separation, where did they come from but our minds, our wrong notions of reality?

The practice of mindfulness has helped me come to know my true self better, to see that I am not separate from any other human, any suffering or any joy in this world.  “Suffering that appears far away is closer than you think.  It is all near, because it is all US.  What if we are already in heaven and are missing it because of our wrong ideas?”

We read these words before our morning meditation several days ago from Together we are One by Thich Nhat Hanh.  This specific chapter by Larry Ward is full of great insights about the false notion of “race” and the suffering that flows from it.  If our meditation can transform not only our thinking but our actions, heaven is right here, right now.  Mindfulness can guide us to transforming war into peace, police killings into unified communities.  We are ONE, but we often don’t realize this truth, become fearful and act in ways that harm one another.  What if there is really no need for fear or anger or revenge?  What if our unity, our deep love for one another IS heaven!

Why not live this one day as if we have already arrived in the Ultimate and dwell there?  Together.

J at Sunrise 5:17

Sitting on the edge of the Atlantic ocean, after doing Sunlight Qi Gong slowly to the rising sun, my mind tries to hold all the suffering in the world. The seemingly endless suffering feels so overwhelming, so huge – Syrian people bombed, children raped in Nigeria (reflecting the Untamed State, a novel about a kidnapping in Haiti I’m reading), and the insanity of our government. How can one heart and mind hold it all? Even knowing a small portion of the suffering, I could drown in it all, lose myself, my perspective so easily. I would possibly, if I were in the midst of being raped or watching my child die of starvation. These horrors are happening to some woman right now. In my safety, surrounded by beauty, I try to hold her suffering in my heart, send her love, gentleness, the power of the rising sun.

Practicing breathing mindfully, moving slowly, bringing the energy of the sun, ocean, sand and clear air into my mind, my body and my heart is more important now than ever. These are the times we have been practicing for – these moments of great uncertainty, fear, war, poverty, chaos and suffering. The world needs our mindful energy so much, our compassion for suffering, our openness to beauty, goodness, kindness and love.

As I hug my husband, I hug all suffering people in the world and send them the energy of hope.

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I just had an insight, walking slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Climate March April 29th. What we experienced there, our teacher urging us to gather, walk slowly, mindfully, to sing together, be a strong presence in the midst of a huge, loud, often wild scene is really a picture of the highest reality! All the “news” that’s reported about Trump is ‘blah, blah’ noise by comparison. What is REAL, WHAT IS TRUE NEWS is that there are people, groups, a world-wide movement for peace, love, sanity, justice and preservation of Mother Earth. He looks big when magnified by TV news, but he is a blip on the screen of life and history compared to Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, the Buddha, Jesus and the millions of people around the world making peace.

We have to keep our perspective, to see what is REAL, lasting, on the Ultimate dimension of REALITY – an amazingly huge Universe that humans have barely begun to explore or understand!

We have to be extra mindful when surrounded by messages that are meant to provoke fear, confusion and dispersion of our energy.  Real damage is being done, many are suffering as a result of ignorance and greed.  But together we are truly larger, stronger and more powerful than any president, any government. If we get distracted by tweets, games, threats and noise, we might forget that we are made of stars, that we are as old as the Universe, as vast, as powerful, as beautiful.  What is REAL, what is TRUE is LOVE, PEACE, Inter-BEING.  We need to change, to act, to stay vigilant and we DID in January and last weekend! But most importantly, we need to keep our perspective, to see what is true, what is real. We need to protect our minds, hearts and emotions, so our lizard brain won’t jerk us into reacting from anger or fear. Every day we nourish our peace, our joy, our freedom, our unity with one another on this precious planet in the vast Universe of which we are a part.

Let us keep walking, marching, smiling, breathing together.

 

Redbud and BEE

Suffering surrounds us – the starvation in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, the bombs in Syria, frightening threats from our government to the Earth’s survival.  Yet we breathe, have breakfast, hear the bees in the redbud tree in the back yard.  How can such deep suffering within and around us and such beauty and joy co-exist?

My meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says that mindfulness has two functions.  The first is to get in touch with the wonderful and beautiful things all around us.  The second is to get in touch with the difficult emotions, like anger, fear, pain and sorrow inside and around us.  Mindfulness can help us recognize and embrace these difficulties and transform them. (Together We are One: Honoring our Diversity, Celebrating our Connection, p. 84).

Three things help me do this work of transformation:  a daily habit of mindfulness meditation , connection with community and active resistance to war, poverty, discrimination and destruction of our Mother Earth.  Suffering exists.  How do we transform it today within ourselves, in our world?

Beach FL '17

Unable to walk

on the beach – I become

the ocean instead.

A haiku by John Snyder (RIP March 5, 2017)

Just returned from this beautiful beach on Anna Maria Island, FL after a fabulous Women’s Retreat with Ruth Fishel (www.ruthfishel.com).  It was too cold and windy for swimming, but I did have a short walk there.  Now back home, I envision the sky, clouds, waves and sand and become the whole Gulf.  I can also enjoy the blue sky and strong sun that is sure to melt the ice and snow here in Maryland.

I love meditation visualizations that help me calm my body, mind and spirit, becoming the sand, the waves, the whole ocean in my mind.  Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that it is true that we are the ocean, the sky, the clouds, the sun, the moon.  We are all made up of these elements that sustain our lives.  The ocean is in me and I am in the ocean.  Whenever I am unable to walk on the beach and feel the waves on my body, I can call up these images that help me remember my true self.

Did you have an enjoyable meditation this morning?  Let me know.

Peace, joy and love to every wave within you today.

Eurythmie by Lyn

Today my task is to accept this bronchitis as my path for the day.  I woke many times during the night, still coughing, lungs rattling, difficult to breathe or really rest.  This will be my fifth day of illness, feeling unable to do much of anything.

About 5:30am, I tried Ruth’s meditation, thinking about all the people in this neighborhood, in the city, county, the state, the world suffering from the same illness. I am not alone, never am alone, in joy or suffering. There are so many people suffering much more greatly right now from war, poverty and oppression…and many suffering the way I am today. As I breathe in, I know I am breathing in; as I breathe out, I hear the “wheez” of my lungs rattling. A reminder that I am alive. I am here…in the here and now. I am grateful to be alive, to be slowly healing, to embrace impermanence. I think of my teacher, Thay, recovering from a serious stroke over two years ago, able to travel to Thailand, re-learning speech and movement, one muscle at a time. He inspires me to relax, to rest, to be where I am, with all those around the world who are sick in this moment. I am not alone.  I have my precious husband caring for me. I am breathing in, breathing out.