Just asked my dear friend Lolit in the Philippines what I could post, for my circle of folks who might want to help (from all over the world, so it’s a bit of a wide-spread circle)…she suggested this local (there) site, with lots of options (including good wishes & prayers) to give, to share, to heal…..and she keeps telling me folks there are pulling together to help one another, and are pretty fired up to get on top of this:
In the lore of monkish tales, most know the story of the original Francesco, who said that his conversion to a life of faith came along after he had embraced & kissed a leper.
This past week, the pope for our Roman Catholic friends echoed his thirteenth century namesake as a photo went viral ’round the world of him embracing a fellow with neurofibromatosis, a condition which has left him with tumors all over his body & face.
I love it when a good idea gets good press.
It’s tempting to look at the picture & say how cool the pope is for doing this. (And, it is cool.) It’s also tempting to leave the inspiration, the lesson & the discussion there.
But the more interesting question is: Have you kissed your leper today? What or who is in your life that you shun, because you’ve decided they’re gross? Can you close your eyes to the tumors & open your heart to the warmth of someone whose healing begins with your touch?
Most of my steady readers from the San Juan Islands know that the past week has seen the cutting of one of the Internet & phone cables in the islands, leaving many islanders scrambling to connect with each other.
Islander (and former judge) Glenna Hall’s remarks about this have been published in The Atlantic.See what you think.
You know Liz Gilbert from her book Eat, Love, Pray.
You may know her from her wonderful TED talk about genius & how we ruin it (check it here.)
Here’s a new way to get to know her: She writes a wonderful piece in The Atlantic (published a couple of days ago, here) celebrating her memory of writer & poet Jack Gilbert (unrelated), who wrote of the way we can look for (and find!) what she calls a “stubborn gladness” in the reversals & difficulties we our everyday lives. She cites his lines:
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.
And more. Here’s the essay. You’ll be glad where it leaves your heart. Thanks, Liz.
Baba Ram Dass keeps weaving in & out of my life, ever since I found Be Here Now when I was at university, at a lecture/teaching in Eugene, Oregon in the years just before his stroke, and lately, as I’ve been around folks who are facing death & dying. His approach offers a place to build what’s needed to face the end which we all can count on.
My view has evolved to seeing death — the moment of death — as a ceremony. If people are sitting with you to help as you are going through this dying ceremony, help them to see you as the soul you truly are, not as your ego. If they identify you as your ego, during the last part of this ceremony they will cling to you and pull you back instead of facilitating your transformation.
Sadhana, either a specific practice or your overall spiritual transformation, begins with you as an ego and evolves into your being a soul, who you really are. The ego is identified with the incarnation, which stops at the moment of death.
The soul, on the other hand, has experienced many deaths. If you’ve done your sadhana fully, there will be no fear of death, and dying is just another moment.
If you are to die consciously, there’s no time like the present to prepare. Here is a brief checklist of some of the ways to approach your own death:
• Live your life consciously and fully. Learn to identify with and be present in your soul, not your ego.
• Fill your heart with love. Turn your mind toward God, guru, Truth.
• Continue with all of your spiritual practices: meditation, mantra, kirtan, all forms of devotion.
• Be there for the death of your parents, loved ones, or beloved animals. Know that the presence of your loved ones will remain when you are quiet and bring them into your consciousness.
• Read about the deaths of great saints, lamas, and yogis like Ramana Maharshi.
• If there is pain at the time of death, try to remain as conscious as possible. Medication for pain offers some solace but dulls your awareness.
• To be peaceful at the time of your death, seek peace inside today.
Death is another moment. If you’re not peaceful today, you probably won’t be peaceful tomorrow. Sudden death is, in many ways, more difficult to work with spiritually than a gradual passing.
If we are aware that death can happen at any moment, we start to work on ourselves more constantly, paying attention to the moment-to-moment content of our minds. If you practice being here now, being fully in the moment during your life, if you are living in that space, then the moment of death is just another moment.
– Ram Dass, excerpt from Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from your Spiritual Heart.
If you’ve learned a lot about leadership and making a movement, then let’s watch a movement (click on the video below) happen, start to finish, in under 3 minutes, and dissect some lessons:
A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!
Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore – it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.
The 2nd follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.
A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers – not the leader.
Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!
As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you’ll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they’d be ridiculed for not joining.
And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made! Let’s recap what we learned:
If you are a version of the shirtless dancing guy, all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.
Be public. Be easy to follow!
But the biggest lesson here – did you catch it?
Leadership is over-glorified.
Yes it started with the shirtless guy, and he’ll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened:
It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader.
There is no movement without the first follower.
We’re told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective.
The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.
This is a little story from the Wake Up Project,that my friend Elaine passed on to me & you.
What would you have done?
Jessica Eaves from Guthrie, Oklahoma (USA) recently had her wallet stolen by a man while she was grocery shopping. Most people in that situation would immediately get the authorities involved, but she found a way to resolve her problem herself.
“I saw this gentleman down the aisle from me,” Jessica tells us. “He walked behind me, and when I got a couple of aisles over, I realized my wallet was gone.”
“I spotted him in a crowded aisle and approached him,” she continues. “I’m a pretty out-there personality, but I was quiet and calm.”
“I said to him, ‘I think you have something of mine. I’m gonna give you a choice. You can either give me my wallet and I’ll forgive you right now, and I’ll even take you to the front and pay for your groceries.”
The alternative? Jessica reporting him to the police.
“He reached into his hoodie pocket and gave me my wallet,” she recalls, adding that the man was extremely grateful for her help and forgiveness.
“He started crying when we walked up to the front,” she says. “He said he was sorry about 20 times by the time we went from the pickle aisle to the front. He told me he was desperate.”
She spent $27 on his groceries, which included milk, bread, bologna, crackers, soup and cheese. “The last thing he said was, ‘I’ll never forget tonight. I’m broke, I have kids, I’m embarrassed and I’m sorry.'”
“Some people are critical because I didn’t turn him in, but sometimes all you need is a second chance,” says Jessica.
She adds, “My brother and I lost my dad to suicide when I was seven, and I remember him telling me years ago that no matter what I become in life, to always, always be kind.”
My good friend Mary Wondra lives near the village on Lopez Island, and has a keen eye for the subtle & the sublime. She posted this little observation about how the inside of what makes it autumn sometimes shows on the outside:
Had a lovely Lopez moment this morning. Sitting on the porch with my sweetie, drinking coffee, doing the x-word puzzle. It’s spider season, so there are webs EVERYWHERE on the vegetation, catching the early slanting sun on their dewy designs. In the apple tree, a spider drowsing in its web when suddenly, another spider appears and shakes one of the connecting strands.
The sleepy spider awakes and heads out to protect his/her home. Thus ensues spider wrestling, name calling, etc. while the two contend for mastery of the early morning construction. We watched for 20 minutes – no clear winner.
But I thought, wow, if I lived in the city, I would never have noticed this momentous battle going on. I’m grateful to be here this morning.
This is one of the more influential TED talks I’ve seen, with more people responding to it when I’ve posted it than any other.
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
Thought for the day…
The pearl is in the oyster. And the oyster is at the bottom of the sea. Dive deep.
" -- Kabir
About Brother Ian
Over the centuries, Brother Ian has been collecting stories & information & discourses for the purpose of elevating the human condition as needed, dissecting it when necessary, and building the case for hope.
In the spirit of noting that organized crime, organized baseball, organized labour, and organized religion tend to engender controversy & occasional discord, I promise to be neither organized or critical of those who are.