I see your courageous spirit and honor it

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It takes courage to compete in the school spelling bee!

In these days of corruption, constant shocks and upsets, each of us need to call upon our inner warrior of light. Like the heroes of popular culture, we must go within and conjure our brightest, most courageous selves to come forward and lead. We are collectively in the midst of an unprecedented learning/ teaching moment—through the power of compassion, heart bravery, and deep listening to one another, we are growing our human “movement of movements” toward a new epoch for humanity and Earth.
Dear Readers, what a messy, chaotic and exhilarating moment it is!

Every day the national and world headlines are filled with examples of people standing up and speaking truth to power. We applaud their bravery and empathize with the repercussions of those acts of courage. Some are chastened, others repressed, and sadly, some pay the ultimate price of their very lives for taking decisions of extreme moral courage. Yet, if we pay attention to the people in our very own daily sphere, we see that acts of bravery are all around.

I’d like to give you an example of ordinary children displaying courage from my own life. This school year I am tutoring children who struggle with reading in an elementary school outside of Denver. A month ago, I volunteered to coordinate the school’s annual spelling bee. Having never organized one before, I had quite the learning curve of how to pull off this minor feat. Fortunately, through the help of a few knowledgeable teachers and the kind-hearted principal of my school, I managed to check off all the moving parts, finalize the contestant list of 22 students, hold practice sessions, and arrange for our bee to happen.

Finally, the day for our spelling bee arrived. At 1:30 pm, a group of parents and family members were seated in our cafeteria on one side, rows of nervous student contestants on the other. There were 22 students ranging from third through fifth grade, all of whom had cleared the 85% correct score on the written test they needed to compete. I sat at the table with three judges, all teachers from our school. Our principal acted as the MC and Pronouncer (the one who gives the spelling words to each student). She did a fabulous job of setting the tone—this is fun, it’s practice, and if you wish, you can use this spelling bee as one of the amazing extra things you did in elementary school this year!—for the students. Each student wore a name badge, and took their turn introducing themselves to the audience and judges. First we had a practice round as a warm up to help them get used to the protocol of answering—“olive: O L I V E: olive.” Then the rounds began. For the next 45 minutes the students competed, taking their respective turns at spelling increasingly more difficult words. Slowly, students spelled a word incorrectly and were out of the competition. After seven rounds, only the top two spellers remained. Then came the final, nail-biting round of spelling. If one student missed the word, it went to the other to attempt the correct spelling. If they both got it wrong, another word was given. This continued for about 10 minutes as we all watched intently to see who would be the ultimate winner. The finalists were a fourth grade boy and a fifth grade girl. They both did an extraordinary job of staying cool while concentrating on their mental puzzling out of the spelling words. In the breathless finish, the girl spelled incorrectly, leaving the boy to give the correct answer and the prize of first place in the bee. Afterwards, congratulations were showered upon not only the top finalists and winner, but for all the students who competed in our spelling bee.

Watching our students competing today, I was struck by the degree of bravery they each displayed by their act of showing up, standing up, spelling the words to the best of their ability, and stepping away when they failed to give the correct answer. There was an undeniable feeling of pressure on each of them to perform well, to give the correct spelling, and to concede defeat with grace. Each student performed admirably, showing all of us adults that doing something difficult can be an inspiring, courageous act and one that they can be proud of accomplishing.

Dear Readers, in these extreme and uncertain times, I encourage you to take notice of where and how you act courageously in your daily life. Who in your sphere inspires you to be brave? And just as importantly, who do YOU inspire to be brave? There has never been a more urgent need to notice and celebrate courage and compassionate action than right now. Keep calm, stay steady, and keep on going. The world needs your light, kindness, and your moral courage.

 

Being unafraid of this world’s pain

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This month I’ve been deep in contemplation about the world and about myself. Old questions have arisen with new urgency, such as Who am I? What is my reason for being here now? How may I best serve the world, and alleviate the suffering which seems to be everywhere? Some days I only crave solitude and stillness in order to listen deeply within. Other days I’ve sought the wisdom of other voices in order to help make sense of what feels utterly insane and incomprehensible.

Tonight I listened to a program by Bioneers, which was a conversation between several well- known wise women as they explored how Women and women’s innate knowing is a crucial piece to the process of healing our broken world. The speakers included Alice Walker and Joanna Macy, who both spoke passionately and eloquently on this topic. Joanna Macy is an activist, author and Buddhist scholar who has worked tirelessly for decades to support people in their journeys towards healing themselves and the planet. She has long taught a method called The Work that Reconnects. The gist of the method is that a person must be willing to dig into the pain which they carry (whether they are conscious of it or not) in regards to the state of our world. We must allow ourselves to feel the sorrow, anguish, rage, and despair that lives inside us which we usually stuff way inside and do not allow to consciously surface. It is through this allowing, Macy states, that we begin the process of healing both our individual and collective selves, and from there, our beloved, ravaged planet.

Clearly, this is difficult work on all levels. None of us wish to dig into our hearts and souls and dredge up painful emotions and memories. Speaking for myself, I admit that to consciously choose to look at the terrible tragedies playing out across our earth at this time is just about more than I can bear most days. It’s too big, too horrific, and too overwhelming to gaze with steady eyes and heart at what humanity is doing to itself and to our planet, our home. How can I possibly bring myself to take Joanna Macy’s advice and allow myself to feel the great weight of despair residing inside me? After all, I have to get up and go to my job, interact with other human beings on the daily, and if I truly allow myself to see what is happening in the world and to feel the suffering of those experiencing it, there is no way I will be able to function.

Yet, Macy understands deeply the Buddhist path to end suffering. She advocates that we acknowledge and feel the suffering, but that we don’t dwell there. Just as the Buddha did, we must work to find the place of peace and stillness within our soul that is untouched by the world and its vast drama. This is the most difficult and rewarding work we can do while incarnated. To be in the world and yet not of it means exactly this—we acknowledge the world’s suffering, understand that suffering is caused by mistakenly believing the illusion to be reality, and then stilling the mind and emotions enough to experience the truth—reality is not this three dimensional story of separation we’ve been telling ourselves for thousands of years. In fact, the earth itself is on a journey of ascending into a higher plane of existence, and those of us who are awake to it, are here to help it arrive safely, much like an army of midwives helping to birth the new age of Earth and of mankind.

I have a saying taped to a wall in my kitchen. It says,

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do Justly Now.
Love Mercy Now. Walk Humbly Now. You’re not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

When I become very quiet and still and can go beyond my ego mind’s chatter, then  I understand what the Buddha, Joanna Macy and many other wise teachers teach. Then, I acknowledge the pain and immense suffering of this world, while also calmly seeing that it all stems from the false belief that we are separate and discreet entities from each other, unconnected to Earth or to Divinity, the Great Spirit that dwells within each being. We have lost our way because we have forgotten our inherent connection to everything else. It’s so very easy to forget as we go through our daily routines. Other people are annoying, rude, ugly and every other negative adjective we can come up with. Why should we care about them? Why should we be kind or smile when they don’t care to return the favor? How can we bring ourselves to love those who are purposefully destroying all we love and wish to protect? To forgive those who bring pain and suffering to others and then lie, cheat, dominate and destroy? I mean, this is VERY big, and difficult work.

Coming back then, to Joanna Macy’s words that rang through my soul tonight, I get it. As unbelievably painful and hard as it is to see, acknowledge, and feel it, I know that the only way out of our global predicament is through. We cannot, we WILL NOT change our world until enough of us can do exactly this. Business as usual is destroying our planet bit by bit, fire by fire, melting ice cap by melting ice cap. We are all so busy running around our lives, failing to stop long enough to truly listen to Earth-Gaia-Madre Tierra, crying out for us to Stop, Look and Listen. To see what we are doing to our only home. To cry for what we have all done to Her. To find better, healthier, cleaner ways to live upon her, in harmony with her great cycles. Until we can collectively get on our knees and ask for her forgiveness, we will continue to teeter on the brink of extinction.

For those of you who would like to hear Joanna Macy, here are more links to some of her talks. Joanna Macy- Embracing Pain
Active Hope Show 1_ Prophecy of Shambhala Warriors

Preparing for the new decade of “profound truth”

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image credit: https://www.weforum.org

Hello dear Readers! I wish you all a restful and calm entry into 2020. By all indications, the decade and year ahead of us promises to be full of intensity, revelations, increasing awareness on many levels, and changes for humanity. I have heard it described as a decade of “profound truthtelling.” All this past year on this blog, I’ve written about the deep and profound changes our human race is continually confronting, or denying. 2019 brought many revelations about our collective shadow into the light, along with continued Earth changes and extreme weather events. For those readers interested in photojournalism, go to the New York Times, The Guardian.org and Time Magazine’s websites for amazing photo essays of not only the past year, but the past decade on Earth. We are truly all living through the most extraordinary of times.

On the eve of the 2020s, I’d like to offer a thought experiment. Let me take you forward in time about 500 years. Pretend that it is the eve of the year 2525. For the sake of this experiment, a few parameters are necessary. First, there are still humans living on Earth, and we look mostly the same as we have since the start of the 2000s. And there is still wild nature upon Earth, including land animals, creatures of the sea, birds, insects, temperate forests, beaches, rainforests, rivers, mountains, snow and the tropics. It has changed from what it was like a few hundred years ago, but still recognizable to those of us living in 2020.

Here is where it gets interesting. Beyond those basics of life on Earth in 2525, I’d like you to use your imagination to fill in the details of life on Earth. How do people live now? Are there vast cities, small villages, communities? What do people do with their time? Do they still have what we call “work?” What is life like for the children? Do families live together? Do they have pets? What kind of pets do they keep? How do people eat? Dress? Entertain each other and themselves? Are there many different cultures across the planet? How do they communicate? What is transportation like? Is the Earth clean, healthy, sustained without doing the planet harm, like in the old days of the fossil fuel wars? Have the Earth’s people learned to live in a peaceful way, and no longer harm and destroy each other and the planet? Have they learned to go beyond their base instincts and created societies without hunger, disease, and corruption?

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What might our world be like, and who will we be hanging out with 500 years from now?

Now think about how the humans interact with all the many beings from other planets and star systems they’ve come to know during the past 500 years. Once they stopped fearing the presence of galactic societies, the gateways opened and they began to have contact with many other races from within and beyond their own galaxy. After a certain point, old popular science fiction films from the 21st century were no longer fiction, as people realized their galactic and interstellar friends had been there all along, simply waiting for the proper time to reconnect. The reunions of humans with their star brethren were a joyous time for all. Instead of remaining in fear and dread concerning what they had once considered dangerous ETs, the human family as a whole learned to trust and rely upon vast assistance from their more advanced galactic friends. This process accelerated the huge undertaking of Earth’s cleanup and restoration towards the end of the 21st and into the 22nd centuries.

Dear Readers, I bring this thought experiment to you as a way to encourage each of us to take our future as humans living on Earth/ Gaia very seriously. For this brand new year and decade of the 2020s is an invitation to us all to use our powers of imagination and creativity for the highest good of our race and for our beloved planet. Can we lay down our old, tired fears and anxieties in this new decade, and DECIDE for the Good, the True, and the Beautiful to reign? Aren’t we completely exhausted from the old paradigm of negative and neurotic thoughts, of greed and war and corruption ruling humanity as it has done for millennia? If you, like me, are ready to create a world based upon love as the foundation, and can envision our world as peaceful, the people as fulfilled, joyful, and living in harmony with Nature, then please join me now and in the days to come in imagining a new world—Nova Gaia. It doesn’t have to simply be a nice, yet impossible dream any longer. The old, cynical point of view we’ve been fed throughout the past half century–that it’s impossible to create a better and peaceful world–must be buried starting NOW–There is more light pouring onto our planet than EVER before, more of humanity awakening to the possibility of a better, more just and healthy way for all to live each day, and an amplified presence of light and of love upon Earth. Critical mass for positive change is well underway, and the new decade will usher it in. Won’t you join our movement for a peaceful, just, compassionate, kind and loving humanity? We are many millions strong and growing bigger every day.

Happy 2020 to everyone! May you each be blessed in your lives with peace and love, abundance, joy, and with the unshakeable knowledge that a peaceful, healthy and abundant world is not only possible, but it is being created by each one of us who hold light and love every day through our thoughts, words and actions. I see the light within each of you, and honor your presence.