Posted in Spiritual Activism

July 6, 2010

And Justice for All

Lords Prayer

This past weekend Samantha and I went to what I would call a “movement wedding.”  Our friends Justin Francese and Doyle Canning, who co-founded smartMeme, decided it was time to tie the knot.  It was a beautiful event and there are many highlights to share, but there is something in particular that has stuck with me since.  Towards the end of the ceremony they invited us to join them in praying “the liberation theology version of the Lord’s Prayer,” and I feel like I’ve been contemplating this line since – Read More

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June 1, 2010

It’s all two both!

Spirtual.jpb

|Photo by Movement Strategy Center|http://www.movementstrategy.org/media/docs/6450_Out-of-the-Spiritual-Closet.pdf|

I’ve just read “Out of the Spiritual Closet,” a report out of the Movement Strategy Center, and it is one of the most exciting pieces I’ve read in a while.  It is a timely read, in tune with a lot of the conversation we have been having here on the IISC Blog for the last few weeks.  This persistent question of whether to take a “transformational” or a “structural” approach leads us to a false dichotomy – it really is “All two both!” Read More

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June 1, 2010

It's all two both!

Spirtual.jpb

|Photo by Movement Strategy Center|http://www.movementstrategy.org/media/docs/6450_Out-of-the-Spiritual-Closet.pdf|

I’ve just read “Out of the Spiritual Closet,” a report out of the Movement Strategy Center, and it is one of the most exciting pieces I’ve read in a while.  It is a timely read, in tune with a lot of the conversation we have been having here on the IISC Blog for the last few weeks.  This persistent question of whether to take a “transformational” or a “structural” approach leads us to a false dichotomy – it really is “All two both!” Read More

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November 24, 2009

A Little Contemplation

I am just returning from a weeklong spiritual retreat for which the central focus was selfless service.  I literally spent the week gardening!  (And yes, those of you who know me are right to find that funny!)  I did chant and meditate every morning, noon and evening, but in this very special place selfless service is considered a spiritual practice on the same level as meditation.

I bring this up because it felt like as soon as I got there I had all sort of “stuff” come up.  It was like the minute my life became a bit more silent all of the things that lie below the surface came bursting up in an overwhelming rush.  I had real moments of emotional upheaval very early in my stay.

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November 2, 2009

Mindfulness and Social Justice

Mirabai Bush founded the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society in 1997. While no longer the Executive Director, Mirabai is steeped in the work. I had an opportunity to both see her in action and to have lunch with her and talk about bringing contemplative/transformative practice into our organizations and the work of social justice. The title of her talk was Bringing Mindfulness into Public Life where she looked back to the seventies as the moment of the great divide between spirituality and politics; the inner and the outer, the personal and the professional. Ironically it was the same decade when many great teachers from the east came to the United States to introduce the west to the power of meditation. The tool of meditation and mindfulness was quickly adopted by leaders in the alternative medicine field like John Kabat Zinn and Dr. Herb Benso and then taken out to the world.

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October 16, 2009

Green Faith

Still vibing on the fact that yesterday was Blog Action Day, I want to share about this very cool documentary about the growing faith-based environmental justice movement in the United States, entitled Renewal.

A description of the film is as follows:

RENEWAL is the first feature-length documentary film to capture the vitality and diversity of today’s religious-environmental activists. From within their Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim traditions, Americans are becoming caretakers of the Earth. With great courage, these women, men and children are re-examining what it means to be human and how we live on this planet. Their stories of combating global warming and the devastation of mountaintop removal, of promoting food security, environmental justice, recycling, land preservation, and of teaching love and respect for life on Earth are the heart of RENEWAL.

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September 21, 2009

Simple Acts of Kindness

In the September Shambala Sun magazine there is an article written about Huston Smith, the renowned philosopher, now ninety, who introduced Americans in the fifties to “The World’s Religions” through his writing and his teaching. This was territory completely unknown to the culture at the time.

In this article he remembers another famous spiritual adventurer, his friend, Aldous Huxley. He quotes Huxley as saying: “It’s a little embarrassing to have spent one’s entire life pondering the human situation and find oneself in the end with nothing more profound to say than…try to be a little nicer”. When I read this quote I remembered being equally struck by something the Dalai Lama said: kindness is my religion. And, of course, from the Bible, “do unto others what you would like them to do unto you”.

And as is often the case, I sit here on this Sunday morning sort of dumbstruck, as if I’d been given the most complicated of Zen koans, pondering the depth of these words that are so profound, so demanding and so completely, utterly and entirely simple.

HELP!!!

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September 9, 2009

Lazy Days

A few months ago, I wrote a post called “Over-Working“, in which I was questioning the ways that I (and many of us) over-work. I am just now returning from a five and a half week sabbatical, thanks to the generosity and forethought of the staff and board of IISC and clearly, given what is happening to so many people right now, a great deal of privilege at having the kind of work environment I have.

It has been an amazing span of time, opening me in many ways and creating quite a space to build the life I’ve long been wanting. And so, in this returning to work (and, for some, school) time of year, I thought I’d reflect a little on what taking a break has meant.

About ten years ago, I spent three weeks at Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery in Southern France. The time there was primarily spent in silence – with long periods of sitting meditation, walking meditation, and even working meditation. (No surprise, I struggled with over-working during working meditation!)  One of the practices at Plum Village is that each week, everyone takes a “Lazy Day”. Read More

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July 22, 2009

I Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

As I sat down to write this morning, I was pulled in two different directions. And laughingly realized (again) that I am pulled, actually, toward creating the bridge between them. Recently, Ellen Gurzinsky posted a fascinating article on her Facebook wall by Derrick Jensen called Upping the Stakes: Forget Shorter Showers – Why Personal Change Does not Equal Political Change. Jensen describes in detail that we become convinced that our individual actions will be enough to address major issues like climate change – and in so doing, stop short of addressing the deeper structural issues at play, and the main culprits – capitalism, industry and agriculture. And so he advocates for changing our focus to structural activism.

I also read a fabulous article about a retreat Pema Chodron did in Seattle this week, in which she talked about Boddhisatva practice – and specifically about the importance of not “getting hooked” with emotional reactions that lead to our own and others’ suffering. She describes that this way of being in the world creates real transformation. And in her amazing way, leads us in the direction of personal transformation to bring about transformation in the world. Read More

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June 10, 2009

Over-Working

Two weeks ago, some of us at IISC had the great fortune of participating in a WTC training called Leading From Spirit. During the training, we had some great conversations about busyness – the ways in which we, as social change activists, process designers and facilitators, find ourselves sometimes being overly busy, taking on too many responsibilities and running from one thing to the next. Some of us mentioned noticing that our ability to do things well sometimes seems impaired by this overly busy approach. (I would add that this is not something confined to those of us working for social justice and social change – but has a special twist when it’s combined with this work, which so requires us to bring forth our best selves.)

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