Occupy Samsara ~ Support From Spiritual Teachers


An Open Letter from Buddhist and Yoga Teachers and Leaders in Support of the Occupy Movement

Posted on November 6, 2011

As teachers and leaders of communities that promote the development of compassion and mindfulness, we are writing to express our solidarity with the Occupy movement now active in over 1,900 cities worldwide.

We are particularly inspired by the nonviolent tactics of this movement, its methods of self-governance, and its emergent communities founded in open communication (general assemblies, the human microphone, the inclusion of diverse voices, etc). These encampments are fertile ground for seeing our inherent wisdom and our capacity for awakening. We encourage all teachers, leaders, sanghas and communities that pursue awakening to join with these inspiring activists, if they have not already done so, in working to end the extreme inequalities of wealth and power that cause so much suffering and devastation for human society and for the ecosystems of Earth.

This movement has given voice to a near-universal frustration with the economic and political disenfranchisement of so many. It offers a needed counterbalance to a system that saps the life energy of the overwhelming majority –– the so-called 99% –– generating vast profits for a tiny handful, without maximizing the true potential for widespread wealth creation in our society. While our practice challenges us to cultivate compassion for 100% of human beings without villifying an “enemy,” our practice also calls on us to challenge a system that causes such clear harm and imbalance.

We share in the thoughtful calls to address massive unemployment, climate change, the erosion of social safety nets, decaying infrastructures, social and education programs, and workers’ wages, rights, and benefits.

Moreover, the current legal structure of large corporations compels individuals to act with shortsighted greed, acts for which they are not held personally accountable. If we aren’t encouraged to act with awareness of our connection to the seven billion humans who share our global community, the social fabric of our society is torn apart by legalized acts of selfishness and fear. These acts are performed in human society, by nonhuman entities, oddly granted the legal and political status of people, which have no ability to adequately perceive or react to the negative repercussions of their choices. The whole planet pays the price.

Most importantly, we believe that individual awakening and collective transformation are inseparable. For members of spiritual communities, mindfulness of the situation before us demands that we engage fully in the culture and society we inhabit. We do not view our own path as merely an individualistic pursuit of sanity and health, and we believe it would be irresponsible of us to teach students of mind/body disciplines that they can develop their practice in isolation from the society in which they live. We are inspired by the creative and intellectual work of the Occupy movement as an essential voice in facilitating a more compassionate and ecologically grounded basis for practice.

The Occupy movement has re-ignited our belief that it’s truly possible to build a culture of non-harm, honesty and respect for all creatures. We recognize our human failings and know that we’ll fail ten thousand times in our efforts to awaken. We now vow to bring our practices and methods of teaching more into alignment with our deepest values.

The structural greed, anger and delusion that characterize our current system are incompatible with our obligations to future generations and our most cherished values of interdependence, creativity, and compassion. We call on teachers and practitioners from all traditions of mind/body awakening to join in actively transforming these structures.

Letter Signed, Ethan Nichtern, Shastri, New York, Shôken Michael Stone, Toronto

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Today is National Bank Transfer Day! Love your brother (and sister!) dammit – and dump your

Today is National Bank Transfer Day! Love your brother (and sister!) dammit – and dump your bank! From VintageCore Patterns: “I went to a Credit Union Today thinking it was going to inconvenience us a little, but.. it would be worth it. AS A MATTER OF FACT, it was the best experience ever. They set up Direct Deposit, and I also got my ATM, WITH MY NAME ON IT! Ready to go and regretting I did not do it sooner.”  Join a Credit Union and let your money support community business. 

Angela Davis, legendary black feminist activist, and past leader of the Black Panther&#8217

Angela Davis, legendary black feminist activist, and past leader of the Black Panther’s, spoke to us at Occupy Wall Street last night.  She was on fire, clearly enthused and rejuvenated by the burgeoning Occupy movement.   “You are re-inventing our political universe.  You have renewed our collective passion.  You have reminded us that it is still possible to build vibrant communities of resistance.   You continue to show us your comitment, your dedication,  your collective labour, your refusal to assent to class hierachies, to racial hierachies, to sexual hierachies. We have come together as the 99%.  There are major responsibilites that are linked to your decision to assemble in community.  How can we be together?  How can we be together?  How can we be together in a unity that respects and celebrates the differences among us?  How can we together in a unity that is not simplistic, that is not oppressive, but rather, complex and emanicipatory.  Our unity must be complex and emanicipatory.   In this complex unity, we say yes to life.  We say yes to community.  Yes to happiness. Yes to education. Free education! We say yes to economic and racial and gender and sexual equality. We yes to the imagination!  We say yes creativity.  We say yes to hope. We say yes to the future.”

She talked of her home town, Oakland, and told of the call out on November 2nd for a city wide General Strike in Oakland, in the wake of the wounding of Scott Olson and  police brutality.  ”A general strike!” she said, echoing through the human microphone, “This is revolutionary!”

Occupy the Snowstorm!  Yesterday was day 43 of Occupy Wall Street, and we were hit by a freak sn

Occupy the Snowstorm!  Yesterday was day 43 of Occupy Wall Street, and we were hit by a freak snow storm.  As is “the new normal” in this era of rapid climate change, record breaking extreme weather and storms are happening everywhere.   It was particularily unusual to have a huge snowstorm like this while trees were still in full leaf, causing serious power outages affecting 1.8 million people, according to the New York Times.   At Occupy Wall Street, it also offered a taste of the challenges ahead when a more lasting winter weather settles.  Spirits were strong with the people I interviewed, and the love was alive.  There is some question as to how long we can stay, especially as conditions worsen.   There are those that hope the movement will simply disappear.  Not likely.  Yes, no doubt we will contract, but let’s use the coming changing season to go deeper, plant our roots and then burst up with the spring sun, and take this movement even further.  Indications that we are in for the long run include a planned gathering of Occupy Together movements from all the different cities on July 6th, 2012.    There will be some hardy souls who keep on camping through the winter. For those of us who just can’t do that, keep coming down, bring hot chocolate, music, and winter fun.  Check out one of the Occupy Winter facebook pages for ideas of how you can help.    We are just beginning. The time is now. Stay warm and stay strong!

Photo: Ian MacKenzie “There is a sign in Liberty Plaza proclaimin

Photo: Ian MacKenzie

“There is a sign in Liberty Plaza proclaiming, ‘occupy everything’ and its sentiment arrives at the essence of the situation.

Yes, occupy everything, starting with your own heart. Otherwise, it will be commandeered by the forces of the church, the state, the corporation, the bully on your block, the passive-aggressive friend who is ‘just here to help,’ even the demands of your own egoist agendas that bore to indifference the heart of the world and soul of the age.

If you don’t recognize your humanity, who will? Who is more qualified to occupy your life than you? Who is closer to the situation? Who else is qualified to arrive at an original take of the question at hand?

And you might find the place to make a stand in the struggle to retake your essential self is in public space, among throngs of others engaged in like-minded struggle … among others who have heeded a similar call and thus have arrived in those equally troubled locations — the U.S. public arena and the American heart.

Occupy your own heart; the soul of the world longs for your companionship.”

~ from article by Phil Rockstroh

Standing Side by Side for the Occupation

They were chanting  ”Brokers and Police : standing side by side for the occupation.” I took this photo at Occupy Wall Street  on October 24th, and it has gone viral. The dialogue in the multitude of comments on my facebook posting of this photo , besides focussing on the question of whether the pic is real or not, (Yes, man, it’s real) also opens up a much bigger question:  does the 99% really want the 1% to join?  And are the police part of the 99%?  

From the perspective of Occupy Love, we are clearly 100% love, 100% whole.  Notions of separation are simply constructs. We need to welcome the 1%  – for their liberation is our liberation. We need to welcome the police – yes even the ‘white shirts’ – for we are all in this together.  

Right now, at Occupy Oakland, the police have been clamping down with brutality.  Like the police that brutalized the protestors in the Civil Rights movement, our greatest power is to meet them with Love.  Fierce Love.   Martin Luther King’s teachings to the Civil Rights Movement were very very clear – stay non-violent, fill the jail cells if need be, but always, always love.  In South Africa, Mandela famously said that until all blacks are free, whites will never be free.  

Eartha Harris commented on the pic, “To those who are mocking this, please read my status from today: I’m sitting inside a cafe across the street from the Bank of America outside Occupy Boston. Its filled with suits who work in the financial district, speaking of how much they love and support the movement. I’m hearing these folks describe an existance that sounds like a soft, grey cage…working 12-16 hour days, crunching numbers under florescent lights, moving only their fingers. Regardless of how much $ one`s making,no one deserves to spend their lives like this, just as no one deserves to be without home, food, or healthcare. Just a nice reminder of how diverse this “99%” is. One reason people have no jobs is because companies have downsized and more than tripled the workloads of those few remaining. They have just as much a right, and reason, to call for change as those without work and money.”

Let us not fall into the trap of “Us and Them” ~ keeping us divided is a powerful way of keeping us oppressed. Our freedom, our happiness, our lives are inextricably bound together.   So let us  invite everyone to join us in this incredible time of awakening.   We are all the 1%.  We are all the 99%.  We are 100% human, and it’s time to Occupy Love.

Please join Occupy Love on Facebook.