MEDITATION FOR REAL LIFE

New York Buddha Dharma and AWAKENEWYORK, under the auspices of the Westchester Dharma Center, present :

 

MEDITATION FOR REAL LIFE         Fall Mindfulness/Awareness Training Intensive

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/meditation-for-real-life-tickets-37431322099

https://www.facebook.com/events/1307768902699912/

 

PLACE: Aligned Center 2 Bridge St. Irvington, NY.

TIME: Fri October 6, 7-9 and Sat Cct 7, 10 – 6pm

DONATION: $35.00 (pay what you can afford)

 

ABOUT:   Hosted by Cary Tamura of AWAKENEWYORK the program will offer talks and meditation instruction by John Baker, a senior Buddhist teacher, author, editor and preeminent student of  Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and Joseph Mauricio, a long time teacher of the Shambhala Tradition.

 

A friday night introductory talk is open to all, and will include remarks from our panel, and practical mindfulness awareness practice instructions.

 

Our Saturday workshop will unpack and deepen the meditation instruction and include guided meditation, talks, private interviews  and group discussion.

 

This program is open to all, and is designed to suit various levels of practitioner. It is a perfect program to learn meditation in a beautiful and supportive environment.  And, it is an excellent opportunity for advanced students to deepen their experience of mindfulness awareness practice.

 

All are welcome.

 

THE PRACTICE:   Mindfulness Awareness meditation is the heart of Buddhist practice at every level, from beginner to advanced. The benefits are profound: peace of mind, greater clarity and intelligence, and increased compassion for oneself and for others.

 

Meditation practice can increasingly free us from the pernicious, anxiety-driven, and distorted stories we repeatedly tell ourselves. It can help us see life “as it is,” freshly and vividly, free of egotism and petty value-judgment. It can lead us to what Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche called “the world of ordinary magic.”

 

We will explore mindfulness-awareness practice and traditional teachings that describe it In plain speech for real life.

 

TEACHERS:
John Baker
Joe Mauricio
Cary Tamura

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1307768902699912/

 

Reserve your seat in advance:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/meditation-     for-real-life-tickets-37431322099

 

STAND YOUR GROUND

 

This cowboy title of this law was made famous in the Trevon Martin case in 2012. It has since become a symbol of what can be called defensive aggression.  Agressively defending MY gound, MY country, MY people. And the more we defend our ground and the more we cling to things that are MINE, the less space we have for others. The less room for altenatives. We begin to live in MY very lonely world.

 

But, where is MY country, exactly? And who are MY people?  A cursory survey of genetic development shows that compared with other strains of flora and fauna humans are unnaturally homogeneous. And, over time, the racial strains within that tight genetic structure are pretty well mixed. Its hard to say who is who, except that all of us are pretty much the same. This makes the theory of master races pretty thin. Its as though we have to invent system that dont exist to simply not believe them.

 

All cultures have developed  spiritual systems and the majority of which recognize a superior deity or deities. And if you assembled a room full of congregants of one church would any two of them be praying to the same god? The entire council might go to war or be put to death defending this church, but would any two of the combatants actually know the same god. In fact, do you? Is there a consistant picture in your mind about the source of spiritual understanding? Yet, how stridently we will define ourselves by these beliefs.

 

I’ll kick your butt over my right to not know what I believe.  Damn yo’.

 

I recently saw a homeless fellow collecting change on a New York City street. I was going to drop in a dollar when I saw a swastika tattoo quite prominently exposed on his calf. I stiffened, kept my cash and stepped around him, down the street. But, my head went into a tirade. Go back to your country, I thought. This is New York. MY city. You’re not welcome here. Go back to YOUR wretched world with its wretched people spouting its wretched doctrines. We are free here in MY city.

 

MY city, where no two of us like the same bagel. Not if you get down to the actual schmear.

 

And for a few minutes I fought myself not to circle around and tell him off.  I had a head of wuips, stories and arguments. But, one thing kept coming back to block me. The kid looked sick. He looked hurt. And, truth is, no matter how mean someone looks, we’re all broken. We share the same fesrs and fall back on the same strategies to avoid pain. No one flowers gracefully into hate. Toxic philosophies are hard wrought. They are forged in violence and cruelty passed down from parent to children. That swastika was not a badge of strength, as much as a scab covered bruise. It hurt to receive it, as much as it must have hurt to have worn it.

 

Eventually, I calmed down enough to ask myself what I was defending. Evidencce: I was riled. I was angry. Therefore, I had to have been defending something. Was I really lashing out against cruelty, or acting out against my own wounds?  Is my self-identified non-violent activism ultimately a misdirect of a deep rooted aggression?  Is the Bodhisattva vow reducable to  a shield protecting the ugly sores of upbringing? Am I dedicating my life to bringing meditation to the world simply as a way of condeming the the part of the world I see as against me?

 

Are sny if us using love as a weapon?  Or,  do we live because we truly believe humankind DESERVES to be loved?

 

The truth is, wounded animals are dangerous when threatened. This is true no matrer how sweet the animal is otheewise. The fact that it wants to give and receive love doesn’t make it any less dangerous. So, as we”re wounded, how to procede? Keep silent? Hide? Absolutely not. The wounded are the most dangerous and best placed to talk to afflicted others who are at tge vanguard of hate. So we can ignite the dangerous flame of hstred, or use the light of compassion to touch those who refuse to listen. The fact is, love is a more affective way to communicate.

 

The more we cling to a ground made up of conceptual identity, the less grounded – and more inherently insecure – we become. Rather than focusing on what we might become, or even who we are in the present time and space, we select instances from the path that help solodify a picture that is not real, but a distracted reaction to our fear. We so want to be, that we create a ME. And more often as otherwise, that ME finds its strength in what its not.

 

So, yeah, lets go to war to prove we’re not gay, or Jewish or German or Muslim. Only, we are all of these things. And the only battle we ultimately fight is against ourselves.

A TALE OF TWO WORLDS

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, … it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope…”  

 

In pethaps the greatest run on sentence in literary history, Dickens painted the picture of the modern epoch. This is a precariously magnificant time, a time of unfiltered hatred and burgeoning compassion. Humanity is waking up slowly, but the raging hangover of past indulgences is nonetheless clashing awkwardly with the beauty of a bright new day.

 

But, are we awake or asleep?

 

Buddhist texts refer to these times as the dark age; a time when good and bad rise to a head. It is not dark as in ‘dark obscuring the light’, but, dark illuminated by light. If we are able to leap into believing in the inherent goodness of humankind we can see this as a time when our resistsnce and neurosis become more apparent.  And, hence a time when healing and resolution are most accessible. Rather than leaving darkness sequestered in the night, we have an opportunity to bring this to the light and work with the defensive urges that have been motivating human behavior for so long.

 

Unlike Christian stories of Armageddon where good and evil square off in a movie directed by Michael Bay, the Buddhist version has more to do with a knitting of fabrics, a coming together of elements into a new compound. Maybe more like a film by Daron Aaronovsky. Which means a psychic blending of tendencies that never resolve into easy answers – or a simple movie.  On one hand, we have good and evil becoming more opposed until one – presumably good – wins out. Perhaps the modern definition of good is that which wins out. On the other hand, we have good and evil – light and dark – entwined in a dance fantastique that will spin until the pieces blend, the bubble pops, and a new agency is formed.

 

Tantric master Trungpa Rinpoche likened these times to a cosmic pimple popping – a heightening of neurosis and wisdom that leads to an opening from which new possibilities are formed. One doesn’t defeat the other so much as their clashing brings about greater awareness of pain and the suffering caused by an inapropriate relationship to pain.

 

It is my belief that we can navigate this confluence and take agency in the coming singularity. By training the mind in mindful awareness we gain control of impulses, by slowing down the point of impact and creating a buffer that allows us the time to RESPOND consciously rather than REACT reflexively. By learning to learning to guide ourselves from one trigger to the next without fistraction or reaction we can possibly learn to help  humanity through the turmoil into its next phase. Whether that phase is a greater sense of space and understanding leading to a flowering or its much predicted demise, may be in our hands. And the time to gain MANUAL control of the micro steps of our destiny may be right now.

 

In order to navigate this grand confluence we might have to slow down and begin to unpack the presumptive reasoning of being right. How do we see beyond our framed thinking into an acceptance of all that is coming toward us without losing ourselves? Well, maybe we can stand to loose some of ourselves. Or even a lot of ourselves. Maybe we can begin by recognizing all that keeps us from assimilation, and simply relax into the convergence, turn off our aggression and float into change WITH OUR EYES OPEN.

 

Working with synchronicity is a process of letting go and yet navigating the flow. Unlike other traditions that imply we can either resist or comply with a script, the Buddhist point of view  is that once we awaken – that is when we become conscious – we can navigate rather than aquiece or resist and in effect co-create the script of exustence with the universe. The universe, in this case, is the karmic web created by past actions moving in various vectors into future space. It is like an ocean of currents, each with thier own momentum. Navigating these currents means accepting thier existence and sitting up above the water line, being able to see where we are heading, and having the resolve to move away from the momentum of self interest into the undefined waters of discovery.

 

Navigating the white water confluence of past actions into future possibility takes letting go of our aggression, self-interest and resistance and allowing the natural change of things to take place. By keeping our eyes open during the change we can move into the open space of possibility, discovery and communication. Looking into the fear, darkness and aggression of our ancient pain, we can see our suffering in others. Understanding how misunderstanding our pain has caused us to act blindly, hurting ourselves and others, we can see how others have done the same to us. We are all fighting ancient demons snd blaming each other for our pain. We are all human and we are all suffering by our own hand. If we see this, pethaps the possibility of repairing that cycle of aggression is possible.

 

With our eyes open into the turmoil we can keep our balance and begin to pull each other from the roil. Or, with eyes and fists clenched against the current we will drown ourselves and each other. Maybe the duality isnt between good and evil, left and right or right and wrong. Its about seeing or ignoring. Either we wake up communicate and learn to stabilize the world of compassion, or shut down and solidify a world of hate, pain and aggression.

 

So, is this the best of worlds ir the worst?

 

Yes. It is both and because of that it is a magnificant time to be awake.

 

 


PAYING ATTENTION TO TENSION

Stress is considered a detriment to health. Lowering stress is a commonly stated  motivator bringing people to meditation. There we escape into interior landscapes of calm. We have apps that guide us into internal relaxation free of stress. This is all well and good until we get out in the street and someone buried in their smart phone slams into us, spilling our chill all over our shirt.

 

While these various  forms of escapist meditation bring relief from stress, they dont address the actual problem: tension caused by stress.  We can go to a yoga retreat in Kuai, a medicinal a salt bath in Utah or a deep chakra cleansing in Oregon. Still, three days later that tenacious stress is there. Maybe we should move, get a new job or softer shoes. But, all of that is so stressful. So there’s Xanax. Xanax works, but pills are cheating. And we know they’re cheating so they’re not really working. There’s Zen. And thats better than pills, but soon that all that Zen makes us so bored we start getting stressed thinking of how to bring more stress into our life.

 

So, maybe stress gets a bad rap.  Its clear that some stress is important for us to learn and grow. And each of us respond differently to different stress points. One person is paralyzed at the thought of public speaking, while another may thrive on the opportunity. Some may love physical thrills and extreme sports while others freeze on the way up a diving board. So, maybe stress gets a harsh rap. I mean, if you didn’t value stress, even a little bit, what are you doing in New York City? Or, Baltimore? Or, anyplace in the current United States, for that matter?

 

I believe its not stress that does the harm, as much as the tension we create in relation to it. Tension is a refexive / reactive physical gripping within the body. Its like putting on imaginary breaks while sitting in the passenger seat. Things are not going as we want them to, and mistaking this as a threat, we clamp down and avoid the opportunity to work WITH the situation. Its this gripping in the body that creates discomfort and injury.

 

On the other hand when we thrive on stress its because we have learned not to fear the opportunity and we meet stress with relaxation instead of tension. Serena Williams or Aaron Rodgers navigate stress for a living. They do it through relaxation born of mind and body training. Its about training. Training the mind to see how the body feels and training the body to open to the experience. In this way, we navigate past stress by turning tension into attention by actually leaning in to the stress points.

 

This is so counter to our conditioning, which has programmed us to avoid suffering by a process of aquisitional bandaidery. We apply one “healing” modality atop the other until we are fitter, happier and healthier, pigs in a cage on antidepressants. (Appologies Mr. Yorke.) Societally, We are driven to buy, buy, buy until we are spinning so quickly, we no longer see how our life is robbed. This is stressful. So we clamp down on ourselves, stomping in a frenzied river dance trying to stop that wheel so we can breath.

 

But breath happens as we relax. And relaxation happns as we become aware. Awareness happens as we alliw ourselves the space and time to relax and tension, and pay attention to the life unfolding before us. Our life. What kind of blessing is that? Not only is stress instructional, it is elemental in creating enough tension in the body for us to wake up, release the tension, and relax into attention.

 

So, not only is stress not the problem, but even tension is not a problem if we use it as a reminder to release ourselves from its psycho/somatic imprisonment and open back into our life. It may not be as selfie-potent as that chakra cleansing in Kauai, but mindfulness training is a sustainable way to teach the body to bring itself back to balance in pressured times.

 

CHOOSING SANITY

Its a difficult time in the world. And its an easy time to try and find surety in aggression. This is a kind of reaction blindness. And when we react against reaction, its like blind leading blind – on steroids. But, when the going gets tough, perhaps the strong might become sane.

We have that choice. The option to NOT react. The choice to respond to danger with sanity. This is not only a better option, its also is a good survival strategy. When we respond with clarity, we are in a position to see more accurately. And awareness is power.
Sanity is also a basic human right. We have the right to have the space to choose sanity. It is the right to find our own way. And it is the belief of the Shambhala teachings that when people are granted the right to be as they are, they are inclined to make the right choices. In truth, to limit another’s freedom simply to secure our own safety, makes slaves of us all.  Not very sane.
The definition of neurosis is applying ineffective strategies to meet perceived needs. Strangely, we are compelled to these strategies, despite that fact that they don’t work. Societal and political identity is feuled by a desire to find safety in certainty.  But, certainty rarely finds parrellels to reality.
Sanity, on the other hand, is the bravery to choose the fresh space of awareness. When we release clinging to articles of personal identity, we are able to open to an interactive relationship with our world. We begin to sense that what is best for all, is best for ourselves, as well. Conversely, pre-empively thinking “whats best for me” is, by nature, defensive. And defensive reactions are seldom wise decisions. I believe this is true even if we were directly threatened. For what better defense than knowing your enemy? What better defense than seeing through the surface aggression to the frustration, ignorance and fear that is driving it. There is no better defense than awareness.
In fact, unless we are aware, we are completely vulnerable. And, when we react out of blindness, hating this, attacking that, we are not only defenseless, we are easily led. The fearful are so often angry chattle, led from battle to battle, working, dying, killing and birthing in the fields of materislism.
But, its is not our battle, and it is not our war. Our battle is to overcome the small minded defensiveness that has kept us enslaved. Our battle is to awaken into our birthright as leaders and protectors of our world. This is sanity. It is compassion in action: being useful to the world, and valuing awareness above all else. Because when we are aware, we are in charge of ourselves and responsible for our world.
I am not a fan of the current US administration, nor the protectivist tendencies currently sneaking into fashion in the capital west. It all seems to be forcing a hand that has been forced again and again throughout history. The gap between those who have and those to get it for them widens. When it begins to become clear that governments are owned and increasingly controlled by material interests there necessarily comes a tipping point.
Perhaps the tipping point can flip in the direction of global sanity. But, whether it toggles toward sanity or destruction, the only path to awake is to trust our goodness and remain aware. When we remain awake, we are not so easily led. When we remain vigilant in awareness, we develop the bravery to hold our seat amidst the chaos. When we choose sanity, we become a natural resistance to prejudice and greed.

Waking in Depression: The Way In

Our beautiful minds are vast and embued with great power. As such, they are a reservoir of great potential. However, we generally ignore this potential in lieu of problems we feel need to be fixed.  The problem is these problems tend to birth more problems until our identity is fixed with fixing things. Our attention becomes focused in tighter and tighter loops and our life reduces into simple iterations of routine.

 

We are caught between the great human potential inherent in all of us and an existential sleepwalk that holds us in lock step. Imagine the power of the universe locked in our laundry closet. At some point something either breaks out or breaks down. But who has time to break down these days? So we soldier on, ignoring the gnawing until we collapse.

Depression is a common and even reasonable reaction to living a life on  everyone elses terms. The root of depression may not actually be fear, but the anger we feel from shortchanging our lives because of that fear. Trying to get away from pain, we actually cause more pain. By trying so hard to be good, we end up living a false life. We have been duped by a cosmic shell game bartering reality for an anxiety dream. We cling to external things to help us fix the mess and in so doing forget the one person who can actually help us. The only person who can help.  The one who has been there all along.  We forget ourselves. When we shunt part of us away out of embarrassment, we become cut off from our inherent power. We begin to believe there is something wrong with us, and that we should be disappointed with ourselves and embarrassed about our depression.

In this way, our depression becomes solid. Our confidence erodes as we feel we are losing a battle.  We fall inward and becoming so small the day itself  feels too big. From this point of view, the potential of the mind must appear dark and forboding. In reaction to this fear, we shrink our awareness in an ostrich like effort to avoid pain. But, as we are occluding awareness, our fearfulness actually begets more fear. This denial of life not only robs us of joy, it also leaves us very vulnerable to manipulation.

 

Ancient humans fought for survival, hunted and gathered food. They died easily and lived short lives. Yet those lives may have had more contentment, community and connection than ours. Perhaps being disconnected from pain we are disconnected from an essential part of ourselves. We relagate pain into the darkness and take refuge in the light. We take solace in being right, even as a part of us suspects the opposite.

 

Our lives move more and more quickly these days. However, the nature we come from, is very slow.  The earth moves at its own pace, in its own way. The same with the heart. The faster we move the less we are able to feel the earth beneath us. And this has to threaten a more ancient part of ourselves, a deeper and intuitive part of ourselves. Whether we are aware or not, this spiritual dissonance causes an internal friction. On one hand, we feel we should be doing so much more. On the other, we’re already working too hard. Caught in this zero-sum vice, our heart, art, compassion and the life part of living have become lost. Placing our hearts on hold, we barter creativity for security causing ourseves and others great pain.

 

This reduction of our life dampens something inside. We can choose to be mute only so long before we forget how to sing. We can stay hobbled only so long before we forget how to dance. We can shut down life only so often, before we lose our will to live. We have told ourselves no so often, we simply shut down in response. So we retreat in fear, collapse inward and, wrapped in the fabric of time and space, hide ourselves from ourselves by becoming consumed in ourselves.

 

Man, it’s actually quite brilliant.

 

Crushed beneath the weight of “me” our mind begins to compile a ledger of all the things left wanting, undone and unfulfilled in our life. Our life force turns inward and the mind turns vicious. The power and potential of our mind is turned against the only foe it feels it can defeat: itself.

 

But, there is a way out. And the way out begins with the way in. By sitting IN our pain, we can become comfortable enough with suffering to find the space within. There is always space. But, in our fear we cling to the familiar and play the same song with such volume we drown all alternatives. However, by training the mind to stay, simply stay, and hold space for our experience, we find we can sit with greater and greater challenges. Eventually, we find a profound stillness. It is within that stillness that we begin to see in the dark. In fact, we become so familiar with the terrain of turmoil, that we learn to walk in the dark. At some point, we may even learn to dance in the darkness finding grace in our simple tenacity.

 

You see, it will eventually occur to our wounded mind, that we are sill here. One we’ve abandoned hope and surrendered to the great despair, we see that being with ourselves is all we have. Ground zero. Right here, right now, just so.

 

Meditation practice will not cure depression. Nor should it. But, a consistent daily practice will strengthen the mind, giving us the bravery to enter the dark, the resilience to remain with ourselves and the wisdom to find the love we need.

 

The love we need.

 

The love we have been looking for all along. The love that no one else can give. The love we learn to give ourselves by simply being here. There is something supremely powerful about beginning to feel lovingkindness for our incomplete life, bruised heart and tattered mind.  We can do this without turning the lights on, forcing a smile or turning the volume down. We can do this simply by being here, and not changing a thing. We can forgo trying to be good and simply be human. And humans suffer. When we connect to our suffering, we are connected to all of life, for all of life experiences suffering.

 

When we find love in the depths of despair, we find an Unconditional Love that compares nothing and accepts everything. Then we have a gift forged in the flames that no one can take from us. Our gift of unconditional love.

 

In the Shambhala teachings we say that practicing lovingkindness is to “place the mind of fearfullness in the cradle of loving kindness.” Learning to open the heart to the sadness of our spirit and finding the strength to hold space for our pain is a profound statement. And that profound statement is an acknowledgement of life itself.

 

Learning to hold ourselves with open arms, reduce the harm and find a connection to all beings is the way of the Bodhisattva.  In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition a Bodhisattva is one who has vowed to forstall their own salvation until all beings are free of suffering. They have vowed to venture into hell to liberate all beings.  We can find strength in this. There have been such people. And there are such people. Those willing to face the darkness and stay there until they get it. And then, be willing to look outward and bring that strength to the world. That is the way out. Benefit for the world. And, if not the whole world, then our world, 0r community. Someone else. Benefit to others is the best way to value yourself.

 

And, it is the way out that comes from finding the way in.

 

AWAKEN THE REPUBLIC

Following the election. Our world feels different. Maybe broken. It’s a good time to find healing and strength in love and sanity. It was hard to fathom. The People have spoken. Only not the majority. Rather, some people have spoken, rather pointedly.

 

Now, all will quiet. It will calm. We will likely not build a wall, or deport, indict or persecute anyone. Everyone will dial back to the center where this country finds ballast continuing nonetheless on a course the election has set. We’ll go back to our lives.  And as we sleep again, 2 conservative justices, a conservative senate and an administration built of lobbyists and special interests will turn back time for women, minorities, policing, jails and healthcare. Sadly, no one will turn back time on our changing climate, which will likely continue on pace, with our country a world leader in its own destruction.

 

You may be frightened. You may be happy that all is turning back from the swing to the left the country has taken. You may feel vindicated. You may be angry. You may be hurting. But, please remember its okay to love, along with hurt. It’s okay to find stillness and feel strength. As we rage in our souls and pour our hearts into every moment, whether we accept, resist, or support the changes, we might also be kind to ourselves. It may not be an easy time to feel light, but remember, we are light. I think we can shine, regardless.

 

This is bravery in the face of the unknown. I believe that we can respond, and act without malice, and without aggression. The power we have lies in awareness. And awareness comes when we don’t follow blindly, but stay engaged and grounded in the present. I believe we can employ non-violent activism and remain in place, awake, if we begin by sitting in the silence of loving kindness.

 

Turning anger into love that is awake and active and engaged. Love is not compliance. It is clear seeing with the heart and the mind. But it is dependent on our stability of mind. Our warrior posture of awake. It is time for this. It is time to move from the ignorance of blind compliance, or the blindness of rage to holding our seat as warriors in our body, spirit and mind.

 

Let’s awaken our republic. Awake New York! Awake DC! Awake LA and Awake America. Gently, but resolutely AWAKE. What other choice is there.  The Buddhist teachings say look at your world without disdain or bias. Meditation master, Chogyam Trungpa said “Look. Look at your world. It is your world. How can you not look.” His son, Sakyong Mipham has said again and again that the world needs us now. And to be brave, we must be “kind to ourselves and merciful to others.” From our seat of warriorship we can enact sanity in ourselves and very natural radiate that much needed sanity to others. So, we are shattered, and we are broken. But, rising up in hate and anger is the coward’s way. It is the way humanity has chosen again and again and regretted the results of the experiment each time. Instead, we can sit in strength and dignity of awake and choose sanity.

 

If survival is where humanity is meant to be going, then choosing sanity for ourselves is an important step. If, on the other hand, we are headed for destruction, well… then sanity seems even more important.

Stillness and Change

Movement in the air. Cat races to the windows. Spirits rise awakened from moldering sleep. Trees stretch orange arms to the brisk skies of autumn. School again. Turning again. Elections again. Life reawakened into the change of change. Liminal spaces. Shadows crossing across the heart.


America Awake

2015-08-27 17.42.31There was another mass killing. Which one was that? The terrorist? The Muslim who sympathized? The Syrian who was left out? The Kid in the night club? The white kid in the theater, or the best friends at school?  Its getting so hard to keep count. Kids killing kids, cops killing kids, cops being killed, improvised explosives and suicide vests changing the face of public gathering. The world is erupting.  And with it, the cry to have more guns, and more war and more punishment. As though adding to the problem will somehow solve the problem.

 

But with all the pain, there feels like hope in the cracks of our chaos. With more pain there is, perhaps, more awareness.  There is more here, in front of us, to see and to understand.

 

This is a great time to be alive. Yes.  Not instead of the pain or despite the pain, but entirely because of the pain. Its a blessing that we are here to help and to repair and to work to bring this world back into harmony with the earth that has nurtured us. Its a blessing here in New York City to be among the fortunate, the privileged, the few who have the honor to make a difference. It is our great honor to serve. And it is great to give back. You see, we become weakened as we grab for more. We falter as we turn away.  We fail as we try to win, and win at all cost. There is no wining that does not win for all of us. There is no sanctity except in the grace of living in a world that we support, and are supported by.  And because of this, it is a great time to be awake.

 

The destination is now, and the time is here. We can make a difference, slowly and surely in our lives and now – more than ever in history – even small differences will be heard around the world.

 

America Awake is a call to (open) arms. Awake is a revolution whose symbol is not a raised fist, but an open hand. It is a philosophy of understanding. And, rather than re-knowing what we already know, reiterating what we’ve been told, retelling the obvious and restating that which was written in stone, in an age of stone, we can emerge into a new dawn, and simply have the courage to say . . .  heck if I know. Lets start fresh.

 

How can I help?

 

What is happening now? And, how can I better understand the needs of my sisters, and the truth of my brothers, and the pain of a rainbow of every shade in between?

 

I pledge allegiance to the moment. And equipped with the immense power of wakefulness, vow to listen to the differences and to heal all damage. I pledge to cause harm to no one and bring the world together in a time of darkness.  I pledge to never outrun my fear, but to open my heart to the transformative possibility of my pain.

 

Is that utterly ridiculous?  I suppose so. Its certainly naive and simplistic. And, how cool is that?