"Aware of my desire to love and of the possibility of building Paradise upon this precious blue Planet, I commit my life to this sacred work... I will to live as an agent of transformation... I will help in the building of a new world of justice, equality, peace, and liberation for everyone, everywhere!"
Genuine awareness is an opening of the heart: to feel more, to dare more, to give more, and to love more: into the becoming of Love Itself... Genuine awareness unveils a willing expansion of the boundaries of the heart: until there are no boundaries remaining... Genuine awareness is rooted in the realization: "I am You, You are Me, and We are All Together One"... As "One", we give birth to the Holy One, in our time and in our place...
Aware of the suffering that is in and that is this world, we take to heart the words of an illuminated master like Fr. Bede Griffiths, "We become ourselves as we enter more deeply into relationship with others", and "The ultimate goal of humanity is a communion of persons in love." As compassion increasingly becomes our essential identity, our increasing awareness resurrects the image of Martin Luther King, Jr. in our mind's eye. Like Moses of old, Martin gathered a people and shepherded them across a great divide with an example of grace in action and in words, "Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude"... Awareness is an open invitation to "look deeply" -- and that "look" inevitably leads to a little awakening, like a ripe fruit dropping from the tree above, "Ah! Now that my head hurts I see that I have a choice. Do I curse the tree, cut it down, or eat the fruit?" Awakening means that we choose to eat the fruit: and tend the plant... In this "tending" our minds are beginning to change...
Awareness leads to one small awakening after another: which then becomes an invitation to action... Who has suffered and then chosen to use that suffering as a vehicle of change and service? Here's a short list: Yeshua, Rumi, Francis, Teresa of Avila, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Matthai, Amma, and the Dalai Lama... Awareness leads a servant of the Holy One, like Desmond Tutu, to say: "When God created the world, God did not create one set of rules for black people and another for whites. God did not say that the tall, or the blue-eyed or the big nosed were superior. God did not say women were better than men, or that only heterosexuals would go to heaven. Prejudice and discrimination are psychosis invented and perfected by people."
We can only begin exactly where we are: and so we begin in the Great Unity of our Humanity: we all desire to love: before we learn suffering, before we are harmed in any way, we are all, through and through: only lovers. Awareness is the tool of awakening: we desire to love and to be loved: so we start taking the risk of love! This is called either foolishness or compassion and sometimes both... nevertheless, we begin: and then we begin to see and make the connections: there are direct causes for suffering, for poverty, and for all of our experiences of harm... "Every time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -- Robert F. Kennedy, Capetown, June 6th, 1966
"I commit my life to this sacred work..." In the union of contemplation and action in a suffering world, there is the possibility of cultivating sustainable change which will slowly, yet steadily, lead to widespread personal and social transformation... "I will to live... I will help": this is compassion in action and the root of the love and essential sanctity that will inspire others to their own applications of community, imagination, and creativity: "We have to fight injustice, and we can fight it in many ways. The best way is the way that can bring justice, not create more injustice... if you are calm and you get the right vision, you are going to succeed in bringing change to society." -- Thich Nhat Hahn
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.