This is a humdinger of a Mindfulness Training! Who hasn't been in a relationship, at a workplace, or let's face it, "in a world" in which irreverence and abuse were not an everyday common experience. It seems to us that there is a contagion of an abuse of power loose upon this precious blue Planet. Everyday the news is replete with examples -- and every sort of justification flowing easily from the lips of the unthinking, the fearful, the mad, and the powerful. But as Hafiz wrote, "I know the idiot's warehouse is always full. I know each of us could run back and forth there all day long and show everyone our vast collection. Tonight though, Hafiz, retire from the madness for an hour, gather with some loyal friends or sit alone and sing beautiful songs to God."
Everyone who has been around activist circles for a while has probably participated in a workshop or two on "Nonviolent Communication" -- these workshops should be required of every legislator on every level of government! And they can make a difference in relationships and by extension in intentional communities. But the secret problems are the real problems and they are all the Shadows that lurk behind our good intentions! Inevitably, when once we have been hurt by another, we automatically erect defensive systems that allow us to cope and meander through life. Our Shadows can justify absolutely anything -- their subtlety is addictive and powerful (for many of us our Shadows are the only power we will ever experience -- at least until we explode). This attention to the fact of our Shadows must be mentioned because we will always be ineffective in developing both the willingness and the skills of compassionate listening, a gentle, reverent use of language, and the ability to dialogue (for listening deeply without judging or reacting): if they are never brought out into the Light.
Really, could you imagine all the world's religious leaders actively looking for ways to renew and recreate their relationships? Could you imagine every political leader, operative, and pundit no longer willing to demonize anyone else? How does one organize a protest movement if you love your enemy? How does one speak ill of someone if you recognize that you are the same One? How can one yield to expressions or actions of hate if you had even the least inkling that there is a Beloved Consciousness creating, sustaining, and animating all of creation?
It is time for a New rEvolutionary Movement beginning with "I" and with "You"... stepping then into "Us"... When "We" come to believe that by sharing there is an abundance of every good thing for "All" -- and act accordingly -- all of our competitions for power can gracefully cease... and "We" will come to know peace... Until then, our Shadows will seek to keep us in fear, with our hearts in lock-down... But, here is a Key for those locks: our Shadows live in our minds, and we can change our minds! Whew, and you thought this was going to be difficult!
Are you ready? Okay, what do you want? Is it peace in your life? Abundance? Friendship? Respect? A New rEvolutionary Movement takes steps from "I" and "You" into "Us" -- "Us" begins to step into "All" when we name the reality we intend to construct (peace, calmness, forgiveness, gentleness, harmlessness, pleasure, meaning, etc.). So we take up our chosen intention: "I desire peace in my life, therefore I will be peace for everyone I encounter today." The intention is declared, along with the conviction that "I will manifest my desire as a gift for everyone I encounter today." You see, genuine spirituality and change is always about the Other, the good of the Other, and the love of the Other! When "IT" is no longer about "ME" I automatically stop feeding my Shadows; when "IT" is about the Other, "I" become free, and then I can freely practice my freedom and beauty... then, OF COURSE compassionate listening makes sense! Of course, a gentle, reverent use of language makes sense! Of course, I can dialogue, I can listen deeply, I don't need to judge, I can look for ways to recreate and renew relationships! And, of course, peace, justice, equality, food, safe shelter, and health care for all, are certainly possible! Everything connects in the human heart...
All You Will Ever Really Need To Know Is In The Following Paragraph
Imagine hell. But it is not what you might have been taught, so start over. Imagine a banquet table stretching from horizon to horizon laden with an incredible array of food. Everything has been lusciously prepared. An overwhelming aroma fills the air. Unfortunately, there are two lines of folks, from horizon to horizon, on each side of the table. After the blessing of the meal, they all pick up their forks to have at it. Everyone is thinking about the team of idiots who made the forks... each fork is about six feet long... but everyone gave it a try. Every time they were able to get some food on their fork, they would try to turn and angle it into their mouth... gosh darn it, the food would fall off every single time... for all eternity... Now put the same picture in your mind: a banquet table in Heaven extending from horizon to horizon laden with the most incredible (vegetarian!) feast the Holy One could imagine! And the same lines of folks from horizon to horizon on each side of the table, with the very same blessed six foot forks... And after the blessing of the meal, everyone picked up their fork (blessed their makers) with great big smiles on their faces -- this was going to be fun! They each carefully picked out the delicacy of their choice, and extended their fork across the table to feed the person opposite of them. Everyone was happy and forgiving of the occasional spill on the table or floor. No one needed to bother reading the little notes in every flower arrangement gracing the table. The notes all simply read: "There is Only One. Love Every One. Feed Every One."
The Eighth Mindfulness Training:
Aware that I desire harmony and peace, I will manifest harmony and peace in my every encounter today. I will be compassion and kindness. I will listen with care. I will revere the different, the Other. I will find ways to become the change I am helping to build in the world.
The primary aspiration of all history is a genuine community of human beings -- genuine because it is community all through. -- Martin Buber
Peace comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. -- Black Elk
I am the life and verdancy of good works, I am the yoke of all virtue. I am the delight and illumination of love of God. -- St. Hildegard of Bingen
We are put on earth a little space, that we may learn to bear the beams of love. -- William Blake
How can we re-orient world cultures to the "practice of beauty"; where art, music, poetry, literature, theatre, etc. are recognized as essential for the full development of both the human person and the human community?
With someone you love (actually, it can be anyone), sit for one minute (or five minutes or a full day, alternating fifteen minutes "on" and fifteen minutes "off") looking into the eyes of your partner. Say nothing, just look, holding each other's gaze. Do not look away. At the conclusion of one minute (or the chosen time frame), each person places a hand on the shoulder of their partner and says, "One Love Blessing". This is the deep practice of Rumi and Shams...
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.