It is so easy to forget who I am. It is my default mode when I lack awareness and presence to navigate on shifting sand and become so consumed with that practice of trying to hold my shit together. That is what everyone in our society is basically occupied with doing. Keeping it all from crashing down. House of Cards.
The world right now. What the actual f#*$k! Libya. Egypt. Syria. The number of displaced peoples in the world is close to 70 million. More than any other time in recorded history. Way more than the entire population of the entire United Kingdom.
And here in the good ole US of A, we lack wise, compassionate leadership. Instead we have an excuse for a leader that has mainstreamed racism, misogyny and more and it seems hard to find anyone in elected and/or appointed offices these days that are actually there to serve the public good and have not been corrupted by Power and greed.
So, for me, the challenge is showing up here without becoming what is present. Without getting swallowed whole myself with Arrogance. Certainty. Self Righteousness. Pride. But also not bypassing all this suffering with surface platitude that offers excuses such as; “All I need to do is worry about being a good person myself and the world will take care of itself.” This is not helpful in the face of injustice.
Jesus in the Book of John tells us not to adopt the corrupt values of this world, but be in our minds, our thoughts and actions like Jesus. Jesus who rejected violence as a response. Jesus who tells us to welcome the stranger, visit those imprisoned, love the least amongst us.
The Book of Micah in the Jewish tradition tells us that God requires us to Seek Justice, Love Kindness and Walk Humbly.
The contemporary Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn tells us that Mindfulness must be engaged. When we see clearly what is present (injustice in whatever form it shows up) we must act. Otherwise, what is the point of seeing?
The Koran is full of verses that guide fasting to sensitize to another’s hunger. To be generous and benevolent towards parents, kindred, orphans, those you know, those you don’t. I have witnessed this firsthand in my trips to Guinea where Islam is peacefully lived in community.
In the ancient Vedas of Hinduism, the path of action, (otherwise known as Karma Yoga) is as important as the path of knowledge. To dedicate one’s actions to the Lord is of the highest order! Gandhi is a prime example of spirituality and service in action.
God is in every heart. This is the foundation that is solid. Love is gravity. That force unseen which holds us all together. Look to the wisdom traditions. To Nature. When I guide my yoga students in Tall Mountain. We reflect on resilience. The mixture of grace and grit that guides an authentic life. I am aware of the witness of the rolling hills of the Appalachian mountains, that were likely formed millions, possibly billions of years ago. These hills that have witnessed so much including floods and migration, some of it forced, some of it arriving with hope for a better life. God is in every heart.
We are as much a part of Creation as these rolling hills, rivers and geography. As much as the birds migrating. Zenzu Earthlyn Manuel, contemporary Buddhist teacher calls this “The Multiplicity of Oneness.” We are part of this complex diversity of species. We are part of the whole that is Creation. We are here in this time amongst far flung galaxies and suns. Remember who you are.
You contain the element of earth represented in the dense matter of your body, this quality is grounding. Despite the appearance of dense Matter, you contain mostly water in blood and other liquids. Water seeks source, this quality is inquiry. We have the metabolic fires of our digestion. The quality here is transformation. Our pulmonary system represents the element of air. The quality here is openess and spaciousness.
We are all wonderfully made! Remember this.
I will leave with a story I share often with Yoga students everywhere, in prison, Rehab, shelter and in public classes because we all forget who we are. So, here is my favorite movie scene ever from “Hook”with Robin Williams who is Peter Pan but forgets this so he identifies as a lawyer and as super self important. Captain Hook (brilliantly played by Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps William’s kids in the ongoing saga of Hook and Pan. Williams travels to Never land in pursuit of his kids, still not knowing who he is. Of course you know the Lost Boys are having great sport with this miserable LAWYER and are throwing stuff at him and he is increasingly getting angrier and angrier. A small boy comes up to him and gestures to Williams to bend towards him. The boy brings his hands to Williams face moving it all around until he finally brings his mouth into a big smile and says, “Oh Peter! There you Are! I have found you!” Cue strings and Peter Pan remembers who he is! And he can fly!
Remember who you are. Remember who we all are. Find your foundation. Be in the world. But not of the world. Work for justice with compassion and desire for solidarity in the shared liberation of all beings. This is why we are here. To love and serve the Highest Order.