Change your mind, and you will change the world: not "might", but "will"! How would that work... it sounds so simple?! In the big picture, there is a whole lot of world to change... how could one mind truly make a difference?
The "average" person has somewhere in the neighborhood of 65, 000 thoughts on each and every day... again, the "average" person has a plethora of negative, destructive and addictive, thoughts... every mental curse, every mental judgment, every mental declaration of anger or of hate, every mental self-devaluation, and every mental submission to someone else's negative speech and / or actions is the architect of our days... Patterns of thought become our lived reality. Like working a garden, you can't turn the soil, plant tomato seeds, "water" them with gasoline, and then expect a beautiful harvest a few months down the road! The "gasoline" of negativity will destroy your possibilities for radiance -- for the beauty, harmony, and bliss that is in truth your birthright! Now add to this, everyone else's collection of personal negativity -- everyone on this precious blue Planet -- and, well, you should be able to see that there is some work to do! (It shouldn't surprise you that so much of this Planet is burning -- gasoline is everywhere!)
For anyone who has ever acknowledged an addiction of any sort whatsoever, you know how hard it is to change! It is hard because all of those negative thoughts -- and the habitual behaviors that follow after them -- form "channels" in your mind... you might have a morning thought such as, "I am not going to curse today." And then you drop your Mr. Coffee pot on your kitchen floor, it shatters, you have no time to clean it up, you're going to be late for work, your boss expects this or that and you know that you can't deliver, you might lose your job... surely all of this can justify a good, hearty, "goddamn it all!" Thoughts just kind of, sort of, find their way into the "channels" that have been dug by a lifetime of negativity: and the curse will come, the drink will come, the "whatever" will be manifested and repeated... Into this mix, add up every time someone has put you down, boxed you up, made you feel small, violated your safety, convinced you of your unworthiness or ugliness... and, well, here are the hallmarks of depression, unsparing grief, and deep personal rage...
If all of this were the whole story -- pass the heroin around! Addictions are easy to understand -- and very possible to change! Drop the references to heroin -- let's focus on negativity. Here's a beginning exercise for changing your mind: declare your intention today -- for one day -- to give attention to as many of your thoughts as possible... not in a counting sort of way... but: here comes a "goddamn" in your mind... okay, there it is, now let it go with a follow-up of anything positive: like, "when I love I feel good", or "the sun is sure gorgeous", or best of all, "One Love Blessing"... Work on this for one day... and then again... and then make conscious awareness of the positive and the "One Love Blessing" your daily mental exercise... aim, at first, for a 50 / 50 split between the positive and the negative... then move it up to 60 /40...
When you begin to see a difference in your daily life: when someone else notices (your changing attitudes will be reflected) and mentions something in passing... decide to amp it up with a daily practice of affirmations: fill up minutes of your day with your chosen list of positives, such as: I am stong... I am good... I am beautiful right now as I am... I am worthy of love... I am worthy of the very best... I will be kindness and compassion... I am radiant. You will now be able to fire your old architect and put yourself in charge of building your day! Here's the thing: our brains are not "distant relatives", we now know so very much about how they work so we have both the right and the capability of claiming a fully functional ownership!
So, quickly, how will this change the world? None of us lives in a total vacuum -- we are all profoundly connected: our cultures, politics, economics, and religions are each and all reflections of our minds. Think about it! Every personal sense of ugliness, unworthiness, depression, rage, and hopelessness, etc. is shared and amplified by a network of others with similar thoughts and life experiences. This amplification becomes "identification"... which inevitably becomes action... which inevitably becomes history... And there are those who feed off of all of this: they can loosely be named the "manipulators"... they cultivate crowds of rage, policies of division and oppression, economics of exploitation and greed, and religions of guilt, shame, and unworthiness... Freedom from these manipulators requires a little "Light on the Path"... [Read the page "Light on the Path... Mindfulness Trainings for Transformation" on this website for the next step in "Changing Your Mind... Changing the World"] Light on the Path will open the door to transformation by first cultivating the power of our personal intentions and commitments, and then by the formation of "sacred circles" or networks, or intentional communities, who will together manifest creative possibilities for Kindness, Beauty, Justice, Equality, and Peace: the kind of world that will be worthy of our children and for each precious life and thing upon this Planet!
So: you can drop the negative, pick up the radiant, and change your mind / change the world! Let's do it!
"Conscious evolution is humankind's final frontier, the ultimate freedom sought by humanity since the dawn of time."
-- Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
The totality of the human person (every human person) is meant to be experienced in harmony and brought into the realm of Beauty. Unity transcends division... "Only One" is the delight of true wisdom, and the radical, mystic, essence of true religion. Life within the embrace of "Only One" is the sacramental liberty of transfiguration: make love and chop the potatoes!
my soul is naked for You
-- kiss me, touch me, here
Remembrance of the Holy One inevitably leads to both intimacy and identification. Linking, consciously, your breath with a Divine Name or Attribute steadily erases the illusion of separation (the root ill fostered by every religion, every culture and the politics of power: for only those who believe themselves to be "separate beings" are able to be manipulated or controlled by the agents of fear.) Remembrance of the Holy One is your invitation to walk through the Door of Reality: you are -- at this very moment -- intimate beyond belief! Scan the headline news, read a little (very little) theology, listen (only a little) to the politicians, observe what everyone is trying to sell you: and then choose the path of your liberation! Know that you have been created for radiance and the companionship of Love! Why settle for anything less?
Quantum physics has discovered an ancient mystic truth: to observe is to create. Before the act of observation, sub-atomic matter, the "stuff" of all matter, exists only as "waves of possibility". This is important for the mystic-activist quest because it correctly orients the seeker to the "place of awakening": into the deep "good vibrations" of those waves: the Only One: Om Hu Amen... This attunement with the secret rhythms, hidden music, of the Universe (One Love) is the height, breadth, and depth of the mystic life -- which then of necessity radiates outward into Service for Justice and Peace... and the saving reverence of this precious blue Planet... or as Neem Karoli Baba taught, "Love the Holy One... Love Everyone... Feed Everyone..."
If the entire world were to become a new intentional community, the "Gandhi Ashram", what would be the "Seven Vows" of this Community? Consider: Practice Beauty, Be Kind, Practice Harmlessness, Be Forgiveness, Reverence Earth, Feed Everyone, Love Everyone...
If these "Seven Vows" were our collective deepest truths and intentions, would anyone make a movie ridiculing the faith of Muslims? Would Muslims react by going on a murderous rampage? Would a Christian pastor fan the flames of hatred and bigotry? Would a presidential candidate use the occasion to lie and obfuscate instead of exercising restraint and wisdom? And would the tens of thousands of children dying daily from hunger and malnutrition continue as the lost and forgotten -- because no one can score political points by remembering them?
Known as the Driftless Area -- because it was missed by the last ice age's powerful glaciers -- the topography here has been quite artistically sculpted by the effect of water upon the limestone. The landscape is characterized by bluffs, caves, swift streams, and mostly meandering rivers... The scene pictured above is that of the "Oneota", or Upper Iowa River, as it begins to wind its way through the one of the most picturesque towns of the American mind-scape: Decorah, Iowa.
A short journey away, on other bluffs and overlooking the Mississippi River, is the National Monument known as Effigy Mounds. The Monument preserves and protects over two hundred burial and ceremonial mounds -- thirty or so in the shape of bear or birds -- in one of the nation's most significant historical and spiritual sites. The mounds date from 2,500 years old to 750 years... all the work of Woodland Period Native Americans... this entire driftless region is a reflection of the interaction between transcendence and immenence: in what the ancient Celts called "thin places": where the material world is actively "invaded" or inhabited by spirits... these "thin places" have always sent their winged calls out into the world for a gathering of "listeners" willing to venture into the mystic...
Breathing in the Mystery of One Silence:
empty space... star... sun... sky
cloud... mountain... river... tree
animal... breath, only breath...
Who was I at five?
Who was I at seventeen?
Who am I now, when
only my breath is the same?
We... you... me... essence of mystery:
fingers touch, hands caress, endless kiss:
the subtlest mystery of all...
A fine early Autumn day, "bluffing" above the Upper Iowa River, a day seemingly made for mindful meanderings, like the river I'm coming to know... and so I happen upon the word "adoration" and wonder at its simple passion for mystery... not the ordinary mysteries that fill our days , but the mysteries that hide behind the visible world and Universe: there is never a shortage of troubles, challenges, depressions, and fears -- some even cultivated by the world religions -- but "adoration" penetrates the stories we sell ourselves with snippets of wisdom: like, Love is a red kite... there! in the deep blue above us and within us... hold onto the string and follow it Home...
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.