Inner Evolution -> Social Change -> Earth Justice
I taught a workshop today on Restorative Yoga and Meditation. I teach this sort of thing because I believe pretty unequivocally that spiritual practice is the core of the inner evolution that will lead to social justice, peace, and environmental protection.
We discussed and practiced many things: Metta, Zen, Tonglen, Walking Meditation, and Visioning.
The following unfolded as the critical components of personal evolution.
It is critical to have a vision, or a sense of what one believes is worth struggling for.
"We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." ― Martin Luther King Jr., in his “I have a dream" speech.
A Practice of accessing the Unconscious:
Without a mindfulness practice, we are hard-pressed to see the shadowy corners of ourselves. Mindfulness is about finding the willingness to see the contradictions in ourselves that lurk in the unconscious. This deepens our compassion for others, expands our capacity for collaboration, and furthers our inner commitment to what is most precious to us.
“You differ from a great man in only one respect: the great man was once a very little man, but he developed one important quality: he recognized the smallness and narrowness of his thoughts and actions. Under the pressure of some task that meant a great deal to him, he learned to see how his smallness, his pettiness endangered his happiness. In other words, a great man knows when and in what way he is a little man." - ― Wilhelm Reich
Reframing is the practice of beginning to perceive everything that arises in our lives (particularly the obstacles, the triggers, and the breakdowns) as being in service of our awakening, rather than problems to be avoided.
"In Zen practice, we have many guidelines, but we have only one rule: Use everything in your experience to wake up."
- Cheri Huber
The Buddha put his hand on the earth in a gesture of his willingness to be there, facing all his own inner demons as well as any outer obstacles, as long as it took, until total clarity came. That level of patience, commitment, and perseverance, and commitment to the things that matter, is fundamental to our practice.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Urgency may seem to contradict patience, but i contend that it is of equal import and we must learn to live inside this paradox. If you read no other part of this post, read this:
Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King 16 April 1963:
"I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity." --- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our personal visions will expand as we practice, for meditation will gradually give us freedom from any confining view of the self as separate from the whole. That kind of clarity of insight and vision is evidenced in MLK's quote below, in which he makes clear that despite the prevalence of racism, and his commitment to carrying his people to freedom, that nonetheless the unity of all people is more important than the 'victory' of any one race or party or faction. Our practice is in service of this kind of wholeness, in service of this unity of view. This was critical to MLK's inner peace as he struggled for freedom, and it is critical to our peace today as we navigate the political climate we face.
"Many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom."― Martin Luther King Jr.
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.