In a recent On Being broadcast on NPR, I heard a story about Howard Thurman’s grandmother. Howard Thurman was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and was an influential theologian. He was a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King and also one of the principle architects of nonviolent protests. His grandmother was a former slave who owned land in an area where there were also white people.
Apparently, Thurman’s grandmother had a neighbor, a white woman who apparently was unkind to all in her neighborhood and not just to Thurman’s grandmother. At one point, the neighbor began to gather chicken droppings from her chicken coop on a regular basis and dump them on the garden of Thurman’s grandmother. Rather than retaliate, his grandmother turned the chicken droppings into the soil each time they arrived. In time, her garden flourished because of all the natural fertilizer in the chicken droppings.
The neighbor woman eventually became quite ill and, because of her way of relating to people, no one was willing to visit her or help her. One day, Thurman’s grandmother went to visit the woman, taking her a large bouquet of flowers. The woman was surprised and delighted to receive the flowers and commented on how beautiful they were. Thurman’s grandmother said in response that the flowers were so beautiful because of all the neighbor’s contributions of fertilizer to her garden.Read More “814th Week: Being Kind Doesn’t Mean You Have to Agree”
Listening to the news and taking in the depth of suffering currently unfolding in our human family around the world, I was drawn again into an awareness of how our tendency to focus on the things that separate us leads to terrible possibilities. When we become mired in tribal reactions and beliefs, we end up harming one another in horrific ways.
For many years, I have committed myself to support and promote an understanding of our underlying oneness—the fact that we are related to one another and all other life on the planet. What has been a long-term support to this focus of attention has been the term coined by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, where he talked about interbeing, that in every moment we interare with the life around us.
Another concept that has been important to me is the idea of interdependence, that we cannot live without the range of relationships we have with each other and with the other life forms on this planet. Science is beginning to demonstrate that successful eco-systems are based on collaboration and cooperation amongst species and that competition is only one aspect of these complex relationships. And, in a very personal way for each of us, our physical bodies are communities comprised of trillions of non-human life forms that work together to keep our bodies alive.Read More “868th Week: Revisiting Interbeing”
Whether we orient ourselves to climate change and the environment, racial injustice, species degradation, power grabs, hunger, or disease, our global Internet connections bring into awareness the immensity of suffering happening on our planet at this time. It also underscores that we are all in this together, given that we travel around the world, share economic and cultural activities, that we are one human family living with countless other earth-kin, on our precious planet that has its limits.
It can become overwhelming to recognize that there’s nowhere to go to escape our interdependence and interbeing. The fact is that we are bound to one another. As the African word “ubuntu” states, “I am me because we are.” Ubuntu invites us to treat others with respect and to acknowledge that we are irrevocably dependent on one another. Here’s a Ted-x talk that speaks to actions that arise from an awareness of ubuntu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrnhdY0B7Cg
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore the principles of Ubuntu more deeply, in whatever way works for you and within whatever philosophical or spiritual orientation resonates with you. Because ubuntu focuses on humanity, I also invite you to expand your definition and experience of family to include all our earth-kin, all the life that arises from the natural world that is our true home.Read More “832nd Week: We Are All in This Together”
Sitting in my living room on a Sunday morning, I’m filled with the gift of silence. No city noises disturb the quiet this morning and that is a great gift. It has gotten me to thinking about the brain research I’ve mentioned before that reflects the benefits of silence in fundamental and literal ways.
One of the benefits of having quiet time, time spent in silence, is that we gain access to our default mode network. This is the aspect of brain activity where we allow our minds to wander, to think deeply, to listen to our internal experience. All it requires is for us to move away from distractions and give ourselves quiet time to simply be present to our awareness.
Another reason to seek out times of silence is that research has shown that two hours of silence daily can lead “…to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion.” In addition to this, we know that noise pollution raises blood pressure and creates stress for both body and mind. According to researchers, “Just as too much noise can cause stress and tension, research has found that silence has the opposite effect, releasing tension in the brain and body.” These findings were reported in the Huffington Post by Carolyn Gregoire and shared by Daily Good a while back.Read More “816th Week: Return to Silence”
This year, we focus on frequencies and on the impact of resonating with particular qualities. The focus for September is on affection and the possibility of resonating with the heart intention of “I choose love”.
For those who prefer to have images with their meditation, here’s the link to the YouTube version of the meditation: