- Mountains And Waters
If you are reading here, you probably are aware of climate change, species extinction, long-term racism, and (to be brief) a disastrous political and economic situation.
I offer a poem by Andy Mahler, a friend and forest activist from southern Indiana.
the shit hitting the fan
we have warned
and been warned
since at least the sixties
that if we did not find a more harmonious and peaceful way to live on this beautiful planet that this day would come
and now it is here
a clusterbundle of reasons for anger and fear
but that doesn’t mean we have to be angry or fearful
anger says do something
(hit somebody, hurt somebody, hate somebody)
fear says pay attention
(or run like hell)
anger and fear are the emotional equivalent of junk food
bacon fried coke
love is that strange paradox
where the more you give
the more you receive
you get it when you give it away
someone said to love your neighbor as yourself
said to love your enemy
said love the creator
love the creation
why are you here?
Did you ever wonder
why you are here?
Let me make it simple for you
what do you love?
Not as an abstraction or an ideal
What do you love enough to take action to defend it?
it is under immediate threat
by taking action to defend it, nurture it, grow it
you grow into the person you were meant to be
anger tempered by love becomes purpose
fear tempered by love becomes resolve
why are you here
What do you love?
What do you love enough to defend it, to take action to defend it, to risk your life protecting and nourishing it?
Ask yourself this question at least once a day, and notice the answers. If you’re a person who journals, you can write down the answer each time.
There might be additional results of asking this question. You may want to spend more time with the beloved. You may want to tell them your love. You might find yourself contemplating what you see threatening them, what you wish to change, how you might take action.
All of this is fruitful. Trust that it will evolve and deepen as you go on.
You might want to give gentle attention to how it feels to ask this question and to answer it. To do that, come into a quiet and mindful state, away from distractions, and notice how your body feels. If you’ve ever done a body scan or guided relaxation, you can use those methods to help your awareness. Otherwise, let your attention move through your body – forehead, throat, shoulders, heart, belly, etc. – and just check for tension/relaxation, warm/cold, comfortable/not, and anything else. If you don’t like this part, just skip it.
Whatever you find can be private or shared.
If you would like to share something with the group here, please email it to me next weekend. I can share it here, or just respond to you, as you like. (When we have a better website you will be able to post directly.)
I’ll do the exercise along with you.
It helps me to know who and how many people are here. Let me know, please.
Future study group offering will include small daily mindfulness exercises like this one, poems and other thoughts for your consideration, larger experiments, and recommended readings.
For people who are not familiar with Buddhism, look at this book online The Way of Liberation by Adyashanti – nonsectarian and succinct – for basic orientation.
For all: see if you can find a copy of this book: Kinship with All Life, by J. Allen Boone (1954!). This is a beginner’s primer for communicating with nonhuman animals. Those of us who grew up in civilization probably need something this simple. I got it through interlibrary loan. It might be hard to find.