Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.
– attributed to John Wesley
THICH NHAT HANH : From Joanna Macy (EarthLight Magazine, Summer 1997): “In 1967 Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. His valiant work during the Vietnam War, helping victims on both sides of the conflict and his chairing of the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation, had inspired me long before I met him at the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament in 1982. There, at a forum of religious leaders that resounded with moral pronouncements, he entered quietly, moved to the dias with no prepared speech in his hand”.
“‘I haven’t much to say,’ he said, ‘but on my way here I wrote a poem.’ From the pocket of his brown monk’s coat he took a crumpled paper, and read aloud the verses printed below, ‘Please Call Me By My True Names’ — and then he sat down.”
Please Call Me by My True Names – Thich Nhat Hanh
Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow—
even today I am still arriving.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.
I am a mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.
I am a frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin a bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and the door of my heart
could be left open,
the door of compassion.
On Heirarchy in Spiritual Organizations, Starhawk
A spiritual organization with a hierarchical structure can convey only the consciousness of estrangement, regardless of what teachings or deep inspirations are at its root.The structure itself reinforces the idea that some people are inherently more worthy than others.
The Origin of All Things, Starhawk
All began in love, all seeks to return in love. Love is the law, the teacher of wisdom, and the great revealer of mysteries.
The Guest House – Jellaludin Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
(translation by Coleman Barks)
TRANSFIGURATION – Walter Wink
Transfiguration is living by vision: standing foursquare in the midst of a broken tortured, starving, dehumanizing reality, yet seeing the invisible, calling it to come, behaving as if it is on the way, sustained by elements of it that have come already, within and among us. (from “Expository article on Mark 9:2-8,” Interpretation, 1982, 63-67)
THE DALAI LAMA
MESSAGE TO YOUNG PEOPLE, AN INTERVIEW – His Holiness the Dalai Lama as interviewed by Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff
Q: If you had one thing to say to the young people of the world, what would it be?
Brothers and sisters, as human beings on this small planet, time is always changing, always moving. In a way, the way things always keep changing is good, because if they did not, all of these negative things would remain. Because things are always changing, there is always hope.
Now, what I want to share with you is that there is always the possibility for things to change and to change for the better. Changes full of human value. I think that is our goal. We have the opportunity – particularly you, the young people – you are the main people who are carrying the responsibility for a good future in the long-term.
You are the seed to develop a prosperous, friendly, harmonious, peaceful world. So much depends on you. Education is important, but education alone is not sufficient. Education of the brain and development of the good heart-these must go together.
Good heart gives you courage, gives you the confidence and the determination. These are the prime movers for a better future. And the brain, it is like an instrument, it can solve all our problems. So with a good instrument used by a good heart, then there is real hope, there is a real good future. So you see, much depends on our own shoulders, on our own hands. Let us try to achieve that kind of happy world. Yes, definitely, there is good hope, there is good potential. It is very important to have full confidence and determination to lead that kind of world.
With optimism, even difficult things can be realized. If you lose hope and remain pessimistic in attitude, then even the easy things to achieve, you will never achieve. So therefore, so much depends on our own mental attitude. That is what I really wanted to share with you.
NOTE: Elsewhere during the same day, the Dalai Lama said that the boundaries between violence and nonviolence cannot be determined simply by observing actions on their surface. He said an individual can use nice words to cheat or exploit another. Conversely, a harsh action could be done out of compassion and intent to protect. He added that the organized violence of war, though, is never a lasting solution. In today’s reality, “The whole world,” he said, “is like one family or body. Destroying one part of the world is like destroying yourself.”
WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.
A BODY OF BROKEN BONES – Thomas Merton
As long as we are not purified by the love of God and transformed…we will remain apart from one another, and union among us will be a precarious and painful thing….
All over the face of the earth the avarice and lust of [human beings] breed unceasing divisions among them, and the wounds that tear [people] from union with one another widen and open out into huge wars. Murder, massacres, revolution, hatred, the slaughter and torture of the bodies and souls of [humankind]…Christ is massacred in His members, torn limb from limb; God is murdered in men.
In his reflection, Merton asks, “What we can do about this?” How are we to cope when we come face to face with cruelty, violence and the hatred of humankind? He writes:
As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones…
There are two things which [humans] can do about the pain of disunion with other [human beings]. They can love or they can hate. (from New Seeds of Contemplation, “A Body of Broken Bones”)
ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL
THE WORLD NEEDS OUR ACTIONS – Abraham Joshua Heschel
The world needs more than the secret holiness of individual inwardness. It needs more than sacred sentiments and good intentions. God asks for the heart because He needs the lives. It is by lives that the world will be redeemed, by lives that beat in concordance with God, by deeds that outbeat the finite charity of the human heart. (Between God and Man: an interpretation of Judaism, Free Press Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1959, p. 156.)
JOHN DOMINICK CROSSAN
JESUS’ RADICAL INCLUSION – John Dominck Crossan
[Jesus’s] ecstatic vision and social program sought to rebuild a society upward from its grass roots but on principles of religious and economic egalitarianism, with free healing brought directly to the peasant homes and free sharing of whatever they had in return. The deliberate conjunction of…miracle and table…was a challenge launched not just at Judaism’s strictest purity regulations…but at civilization’s eternal inclination to draw lines, invoke boundaries, establish hierarchies, and maintain discriminations. It did not invite a political revolution but envisaged a social [revolution] at the imagination’s most dangerous depths. No importance was given to distinctions of Gentile and Jew, female and male, slave and free, poor and rich. [In Jesus’ ministry] those distinctions were hardly even attacked in theory; they were simply ignored in practice.” (The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1991, p. xii)
CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTES
WE WERE MADE FOR THESE TIMES – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.