Friday, December 9, 2016

Pema Chödrön: Am I Going To Practice Peace Or Am I Going To War?


Everyday we could think about the aggression 
in the world... All over the world, everybody always 
strikes out at the enemy, and the pain escalates forever. 
Everyday we could reflect on this and ask ourselves, 
“Am I going to add to the aggression in the world?” 
Everyday, at the moment that things get edgy, 
we can just ask ourselves, "Am I going to 
practice peace, or am I going to war?”

- Pema Chödrön
 

Satish Kumar: Global Humanity


The force and the strength for peace will come 
from people. And that will happen when people start 
to realize that all the diversity and differences we see of 
nationalities, of religions, of cultures, of languages, are all 
beautiful diversities, for they are only on the surface. 
And deep down we share the same humanity, 
the global humanity.
 
- Satish Kumar
 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Reflections On Being a Love Warrior

Thank you to the beautiful, strong, brave, wise and loving women I sit in circle with. We support each other through these times. One of our circle sisters - thank you Bess Piñon! - also shared in our last gathering a song, "Love Warriors," which in part inspired me to explore more deeply what it means to be a love warrior. ~ Molly



 "The more we love, the more real we become."
- Stephen Levine

 This morning I listened to Democracy Now! (https://www.democracynow.org/2016/12/8/the_end_of_the_epa_trump) and the interviews Amy Goodman provided on the new nomination to head the EPA - Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general whose deep alliance is with the fossil fuel industry. And my heart sank. In this moment I am aware of this great sadness that I feel.

These are extraordinary times in which we live. How did we come to be here? How is it that the word "environmentalist" means something very different to different people when in truth we share in common the need for a healthy planet to sustain us all? How did we come to be so polarized and propagandized? How did we learn to disconnect from one another and this amazing earth we share? How is it that so many believe that our political party and our identity as left/right, conservative/liberal, Democrat/Republican - and all the other polarities which separate us into us versus them - is of more value than that which connects us as human beings? Why have so many of us been conditioned to believe that we need to build walls of separation, shame, blame, and judgment rather than bridges of understanding, community, compassion, caring, and connection? What has happened to us?

And what to do with all this? On all fronts there are threats, including right down to the water we drink and the air we breathe and the warming of the planet we share and which we all depend upon for our very lives. What is more basic than that? Some say we are the "greatest nation on earth." Yet, Flint is still poisoned. Millions are without homes and health insurance. One in four children in America live in poverty. But we don't hear about this in the news, other than perhaps to overtly or subtly blame poverty on the poor. Standing Rock is the epicenter of a global awakening that doesn't get more than a moment of reporting, if any, in the corporate news. Toxic oil spills happen constantly. Daily there are wild fires and great storms and droughts and floods and more that are related to climate change. Yet we have nominated for President someone who will become the only leader in the world who denies global warming. And as the PPM (parts per million) of CO2 tops 400, when 350 is what is needed to sustain the planet we have known, this doesn't even make a 20 second story at the end of a news broadcast. Instead, and in the face of this greatest threat to us all, there is silence. Or denial. Why? Why is there this pervasive effort to keep us uninformed even though our ignorance imperils us all - including our own children and grandchildren?

And what is the cost of this pervasive and chronic silence and faux news, distraction and denial, minimizing and misinformation, withholding and lying, polarizing and demonizing of Others? What is the cost of our apathy and despair, our indoctrination and ignorance, our anger and judgments, our blaming and finger pointing at those who we identify as the problem? And, very importantly, what is the answer? What are new stories we can create together, ones which nourish and encourage and inspire our courage, caring, wisdom, and commitment to love?

As I close my eyes and go inside, I am aware that I feel both this urgency for our human awakening and also this peaceful awareness of some of the steps that may be helpful and certainly have been helpful to me. There are potential protective actions which shield us from despair that can suck us under, shield us from the temptation to blame and shame, shield us from that which is harmful rather than helpful. We can remember love, connection, beauty, humor, gratitude, and mindfulness of the many ways we are blessed, including something so simple and sacred as the water we are able to drink. The challenge, of course, is working toward increased balance and awareness of both the beauty and the suffering in the world as we begin to open to larger and larger consciousness of what we are faced with at this time. 

I also understand that it is not easy to be in the world with our hearts open. We all have experiences which worked to open or close our hearts. As a little girl, my own experience was that I had learned to disassociate - to often not see what I saw, feel what I felt, know what I knew, and need what I needed. There were experiences which were too overwhelming as a small and growing child to allow into my conscious awareness. So I went underground to survive. It is my belief that we are living in times when millions have gone underground to survive. I understand these defenses we humans can build to protect ourselves from deeper consciousness that would feel scary and overwhelming. I know this one well and, because today I understand my journey both away from myself and the journey home, I can recognize within myself, others, and our culture these obstacles to being present with things as they truly are.

There is indeed an urgent need for us to brave the difficult journey of growing in consciousness, courage, wisdom, and love. There is an urgent need to see what threatens us and to act to effect deep and systemic change. While we are conditioned to look away, the truth is that we need to act now to save the planet from climate devastation. We need to immediately halt new coal, oil and gas development and finance a just transition towards a 100% renewable energy future for all. This is among that which is at the top of the list of to-do's for humankind.

So when I hear that the human being nominated to head the EPA is in an incestuous relationship with fossil fuel industry, I am profoundly disturbed. Because I know this choice is simply immoral, unconscious, and in disregard of the value of life and the well-being of humans, other beings, and Earth. This choice is a dark and toxic shadow over the welfare of our children and all children everywhere and those yet unborn. It also illuminates how profoundly important it is for us to inform ourselves, to share what we are learning, and to act to come together to stand up to the forces of violence and destruction. Side by side with illuminating that which destroys and must be stopped is the need for us to work to see and give voice to strong alternatives, alternatives which are rooted in the value of life, in the possibilities of new stories to live by, and in the potential of how it is that we humans may evolve as a species to grow into our greater wholeness and capacity to love. My deep and abiding prayer is that we will increasingly awaken and remember what we have forgotten.

I also understand that the answer is not found in blaming and shaming. Whatever our beliefs, it is not helpful to refer to those who have different perceptions as idiots or assholes or thugs or jerks, etc., etc. I also understand that whether we voted for Trump, for Clinton, or went Libertarian or Green, when our fears are triggered it can be very difficult to not strike back at those we see as hurting us. The path of peace is not an easy one! Those on the front lines at Standing Rock can certainly attest to that. Yet, this is what the Elders say again and again - stand in peace and prayer. Charles Eisenstein also wrote an exceptional essay on how to not bite ths hook and not engage in war where everyone loses, which can be found here: http://charleseisenstein.net/this-is-how-war-begins/

Many years ago I read something in Women Who Run With the Wolves that ultimately changed my life. Clarissa Pinkola Estés spoke of the most important decision we will make in our lifetimes, and that is whether or not to be bitter. It is indeed true that the decisions we make and the work we do or don't do, consciously or otherwise, related to bitterness will result in growing older in a way that is either expansive or contracting, loving or fearful, compassionate or blaming, connecting or divisive, kind or critical, inclusive or isolating, joyful or angry, empathically aware and wise or bitter.

Over seven years ago when I began blogging, after our oldest son pushed me to do so, it came to me what I needed to say first and foremost as the essence of my intentions:
 
"I am passionate about being a part of a revolution in caring and kindness. I am passionate about peace, beauty, joy, compassion, love, laughter, truth, healing, and growing in consciousness. My personal experience has been that as I have embraced, healed, and opened my heart, I have discovered the sacredness in myself and all life. It is my belief that the ripples of the strong and sacred heart energy in us all is what will awaken and heal our world."


I am now 65 years old. With each year that I grow older I am more mindful and aware of my actions, decisions, intentions, commitments, vows and values. Each year I integrate more deeply an understanding of how this foundation that I intentionally build is what helps me to continuously deepen in my capacity to awaken, to heal, to intervene on my judging mind, and to be the peace our world needs. We humans will not unstuck ourselves and evolve from our adolescence as a species into the wholeness of our adulthood as long as we are calling each other idiots and assholes and blaming those Others out there for the problems we experience in our country, on the planet, and in our own hearts. There is another alternative. We can pray and speak and act in the world and within the heart of our being in ways which invite others into our circle of caring, into new conversations, into new possible stories we might share together, and ultimately into coming together in a revolution of caring and kindness.

Sure, you say. But bullshit. You may be thinking that my idiot uncle or sister or neighbor or co-worker is hopeless and will never get it. They'll always be idiots who are wrecking the world. The larger picture, however, that we might ask is, will we get it? Will we be the peace our world yearns for? Will we actually live the Golden Rule? Will we deepen our practice - be it Christianity or Buddhism or Indigenous traditions or Goddess worship or whatever religion or spiritual tradition that we say we follow? And if we're unclear about what our practice is, it's never too late to make inquires. I personally love the intentions of living my life as a prayer and walking a path of no harm. It sure gets increasingly difficult, actually painful, to return the harming actions of others with more harming actions of my own. Because each year I am alive I am increasingly aware and humbled with the recognition of my own blind spots and ignorance and harmful thoughts and actions. Gratefully, the intention to be kind includes myself. So I don't need to hold onto judging or shaming myself as much today. As I deepen in my practice of compassion, everyone is included. For it is true that we can only give to others what we first are able to give ourselves.

Which brings us to these times and what I believe it asked of us. Perhaps it is to deepen our capacity for empathy, understanding, kindness, compassion, courage, and love to a greater degree than we may have experienced before. If we are alive and breathing, there is always more work that can be done. Which is such a relief once we get it that we get to be lifelong learners where love is concerned.

The last time I saw Matthew Fox speak in Portland he was asked a question: "If you could name one thing which could make all the difference, what would that be?" Matthew answered, "Remembering the Sacred."

May we all remember the Sacred. May we be rooted into our spiritual paths which take us deeper and deeper into our remembrance of what we have forgotten. May we declare our ongoing and ever expanding commitment to awakening, to being the Bodhisattva who works to alleviate suffering, and to being the Love Warriors who work to heal and be kind and invite others into the circle of community dedicated to love and kindness.

The world needs us. May we heal and open our hearts and support one another along the way. We are truly all connected, all in this together. We can all be Love Warriors.


Love & blessings,

Molly


e.e. cummings: May My Heart Always Be Open


may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old
   
may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young
   
and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile
 
- e.e. cummings 
 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Satish Kumar: Wars and Conflicts Begin In the Mind


Wars and conflicts begin in the mind, 
then they are expressed in words and then executed 
through physical action, so personal transformation 
is intricately connected with the social 
and political transformation.

- Satish Kumar
 

Satish Kumar: To Walk On the Path of Spirit


If individuals start to walk on the path of spirit 
and feel a sense of the sacred connectedness, 
then social, economic and political problems 
will also begin to get resolved.

- Satish Kumar
 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Rachel Naomi Remen: Reclaiming Ourselves

Photo by Molly
Reclaiming ourselves usually means coming to recognize and accept that we have in us both sides of everything. We are capable of fear and courage, generosity and selfishness, vulnerability and strength. These things do not cancel each other out but offer us a full range of power and response to life. Life is as complex as we are. Sometimes our vulnerability is our strength, our fear develops our courage, and our woundedness is the road to our integrity. It is not an either/or world. It is a real world. In calling ourselves "heads" or "tails," we may never own and spend our human currency, the pure gold of which our coin is made.

But judgment may heal over time. One of the blessings of growing older is the discovery that many of the things I once believed to be my shortcomings have turned out in the long run to be my strengths, and other things of which I was unduly proud have revealed themselves in the end to be among my shortcomings. Things that I have hidden from others for years turn out to be the anchor and enrichment of my middle age. What a blessing it is to outlive your self-judgments and harvest your failures.


 Rachel Naomi Remen,  
Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal

Monday, December 5, 2016

Terry Tempest Williams: The Eyes of the Future


The eyes of the future 
are looking back at us and they are 
praying for us to see beyond 
our own time.

- Terry Tempest Williams

Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics


Although related, food insecurity and poverty are not the same. Poverty in the United States is only one of many factors associated with food insecurity. In fact, higher unemployment, lower household assets, and certain demographic characteristics also lead to a lack of access to adequate, nutritious food. Read on for national hunger and poverty facts and statistics, or visit Map the Meal Gap for state-specific information.

Poverty Statistics in the United States[i]

In 2015:
  • 43.1 million people (13.5 percent) were in poverty.
  • 24.4 million (12.4 percent) of people ages 18-64 were in poverty.
  • 14.5 million (19.7 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
  • 4.2 million (8.8 percent) seniors 65 and older were in poverty.
  • The overall poverty rate according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure is 14.3 percent, significantly higher than the official poverty rate of 13.5 percent.[ii]
  • Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure, there are 45.7 million people living in poverty, 2.6 million more than are represented by the official poverty measure (43.1 million).[iii]
Food Insecurity and Very Low Food Security[iv]
In 2015:
  • 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children.
  • 13 percent of households (15.8 million households) were food insecure.
  • 5 percent of households (6.3 million households) experienced very low food security.
  • Households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 17 percent compared to 11 percent.
  • Households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (17%), especially households with children headed by single women (30%) or single men (22%), Black non-Hispanic households (22%) and Hispanic households (19%).
Please read more here: http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/hunger-and-poverty/hunger-and-poverty-fact-sheet.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Martin Luther King, Jr.: We Have Before Us a Glorious Opportunity


We are dealing with issues that cannot be solved 
without the nation undergoing a radical 
redistribution of economic power...

We have before us the glorious opportunity 
to inject a new dimension of Love into 
the veins of our civilization.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.