A community of people walking together on a spiritual path has a great deal of strength; its members are able to protect each other, to help each other in every aspect of the practice, and to build the strength of the community. There are many things that are very difficult for us to do on our own, but when we live together as community, they become easy and natural. We do them without growing tired or making a strenuous effort. The community has a collective energy. Without this energy, the practice of individual transformation is not easy.
When we live together in community it becomes a body, and each one of us is a cell in that body. If we are not part of the community body, we will be isolated, hungry, and needy, and we will not have a suitable environment for practice. We can visualize the community body as a forest. Each member of the community is a tree standing beautifully alongside the others. Each tree has its own shape, height, and unique qualities, but all are contributing to the harmonious growth of the forest. Looking at the trees standing steadily alongside each other like that, you can sense the beauty, solidity, and power of a sacred forest.
Our community body is going forward on the path of practice and its eyes are able to direct us. The eyes of the community are able to see the strong points as well as the weak points of every member of the community. By community Eyes, we mean the insight and vision of the collective body of the community, which includes the vision and insight of all of its members from the youngest to the eldest. Although the contribution of everyone’s insight is necessary for the community insight to be clear, it is not just a simple adding up of individual insights. The collective insight has a strength, a wisdom, and a vitality of its own, which surpasses any individual insight. […]
The energy of the community body has the capacity to protect and transform us. As a member of the community, all we have to do is to make our contribution to that energy. This is called community building. It is the most precious work a monk, nun or layperson can do. […]
When we are stubborn, we are not open to listening to others or seeing the limitations of our own way of thinking. We think our way is the best and our ideas are best. We may become angry when our community makes a decision that does not exactly reflect what we wanted. This is the result of our stubbornness and arrogance. We are so sure of ourselves, so sure that our view is the best. This is an obstacle to overcoming our suffering and finding peace and happiness in the present moment.
I have often said that there is no place for pride in true love. True love is a process of humility, of letting go of our individual ideas and notions to embrace and become one with another person or our entire community. When we are proud we can be easily wounded. We are like the tall, dry grasses that do not bend down low in the face of the winds. Instead, they try to remain standing tall and in the process are broken to pieces. Our pride is an obstacle to developing our understanding, compassion, and boundless love. When we are humble we have nothing to fear, nothing to lose. We easily flow with the circumstances that we find ourselves in and are endlessly open to learn, to practice, and to transform ourselves.
–Thich Nhat Hanh in Joyfully Together: The Art of Building a Harmonious Community.
A review of Sacred Economics Author Charles Eisenstein with Integral New York
In deeply contemplating the ever increasing, ever more complicated and intertwining crises facing the world today, one can find a common thread: the financial system and the human species’ relationship to money. No matter what the problem, if one looks deeply to the root cause, it’s nearly always money. “What does a money system look like that no longer destroys, but instead heals nature, culture, and the human spirit?” asks Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics.
This was a rare chance to spend quality time in dialog with the emerging philosopher, writer, teacher and (I would say, he wouldn’t) economist. His book is fast becoming a guiding force in the Occupy Movement, or as it’s more widely known, The Global Awakening. Of the many speakers and gurus highlighting problems and offering solutions today, Eisenstein stands out for his ability to pull it all together and articulate root cause and realistic actionable steps toward rejuvenation. He is in a class all his own.
Charles (and I hope you don’t mind us all remaining on a first-name basis) speaks to the spiritual in a way that shows he has arrived there from deep trial and emerged with intuitive understanding of ageless wisdom. He speaks to our institutions and systems with scholarly depth, worthy of a Yale graduate, which he is. He weaves this insight and knowledge together offering an approach to solving the seemingly unsolvable inviting the listener to a new level of consciousness wherein things don’t seem so bad.
I felt good as soon as I arrived. The room was filling up and Charles was already there. In his tee-shirt and not-so-pressed khakis, he was leaning back in a chair at the front of the room, calm and monk-like, taking it all in. Gilles Herrada was the host for the evening and gave a fantastic introduction, which included a pronunciation of “Charles Eisenstein” in an elegant, liquid-French accent that made Charles smile from ear-to-ear. (My wife and I tried to imitate it the whole way home with little success….Shawls…Shaaawls Eye-shin-shteen. What fun! My Midwestern accent feels so inferior.)
The entire evening lasted just short of 2 1/2 hours and it was equal parts Charles speaking to the room and a Q & A.
Charles is on a book tour for Sacred Economics, but the talk, I think, encompassed all of his work and was not specific to the new book. If there is an over-arching context to his theme, it is this: we modern humans are living in a transitional time and, if there is a main theme, perhaps it is interdependence, inclusiveness and community.
About the film: Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme – but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.
After first reading Charles Eisenstein’s book in the summer of 2011, which speaks eloquently about the return of the “gift economy”, I felt compelled to gift back. The best way I knew how was to use my filmmaking skills to share Charles’ work, and spread it to communities around the globe.
His vision of “the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible” is the salve that so many of us need at this time, in the age of great transition. My hope is this film catalyzes those who work with passion and dedication to live this world right now.
Thanks to Velcrow Ripper and Gregg Hill for their help co-producing the short. Enjoy!
When you fall in love, it’s all about what you have in common, and you can hardly imagine that there are differences, let alone that you will quarrel over them, or weep about them, or be torn apart by them — or if all goes well, struggle, learn, and bond more strongly because of, rather than despite, them. The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter.
Until they did.
Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers and anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when those who never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people found themselves in adjoining tents in public squares.
All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police brutality that battered the privileged the way that inner-city kids are used to being battered all the time. Part of what we had in common was what we were against: the current economy and the principle of insatiable greed that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic privatization that accompanied it.
This is a system that damages people, and its devastation was on display as never before in the early months of Occupy and related phenomena like the “We are the 99%” website. When it was people facing foreclosure, or who’d lost their jobs, or were thrashing around under avalanches of college or medical debt, they weren’t hard to accept as us, and not them.
And then came the people who’d been damaged far more, the psychologically fragile, the marginal, and the homeless — some of them endlessly needy and with a huge capacity for disruption. People who had come to fight the power found themselves staying on to figure out available mental-health resources, while others who had wanted to experience a democratic society on a grand scale found themselves trying to solve sanitation problems.
And then there was the violence.
The Faces of Violence
The most important direct violence Occupy faced was, of course, from the state, in the form of the police using maximum sub-lethal force on sleepers in tents, mothers with children, unarmed pedestrians, young women already penned up, unresisting seated students, poets, professors, pregnant women, wheelchair-bound occupiers, and octogenarians. It has been a sustained campaign of police brutality from Wall Street to Washington State the likes of which we haven’t seen in 40 years.
On the part of activists, there were also a few notable incidents of violence in the hundreds of camps, especially violence against women. The mainstream media seemed to think this damned the Occupy movement, though it made the camps, at worst, a whole lot like the rest of the planet, which, in case you hadn’t noticed, seethes with violence against women. But these were isolated incidents.
That old line of songster Woody Guthrie is always handy in situations like this: “Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” The police have been going after occupiers with projectile weapons, clubs, and tear gas, sending some of them to the hospital and leaving more than a few others traumatized and fearful. That’s the six-gun here.
But it all began with the fountain pens, slashing through peoples’ lives, through national and international economies, through the global markets. These were wielded by the banksters, the “vampire squid,” the deregulators in D.C., the men — and with the rarest of exceptions they were men — who stole the world.
That’s what Occupy came together to oppose, the grandest violence by scale, the least obvious by impact. No one on Wall Street ever had to get his suit besmirched by carrying out a foreclosure eviction himself. Cities provided that service for free to the banks (thereby further impoverishing themselves as they created new paupers out of old taxpayers). And the police clubbed their opponents for them, over and over, everywhere across the United States.
The grand thieves invented ever more ingenious methods, including those sliced and diced derivatives, to crush the hopes and livelihoods of the many. This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose. Don’t ever lose sight of that.
Oakland’s Beautiful Nonviolence
Now that we’re done remembering the major violence, let’s talk about Occupy Oakland. A great deal of fuss has been made about two incidents in which mostly young people affiliated with Occupy Oakland damaged some property and raised some hell.
The mainstream media and some faraway pundits weighed in on those Bay Area incidents as though they determined the meaning and future of the transnational Occupy phenomenon. Perhaps some of them even hoped, consciously or otherwise, that harped on enough these might divide or destroy the movement. So it’s important to recall that the initial impact of Occupy Oakland was the very opposite of violent, stunningly so, in ways that were intentionally suppressed.
Occupy Oakland began in early October as a vibrant, multiracial gathering. A camp was built at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, and thousands received much-needed meals and healthcare for free from well-organized volunteers. Sometimes called the Oakland Commune, it was consciously descended from some of the finer aspects of an earlier movement born in Oakland, the Black Panthers, whose free breakfast programs should perhaps be as well-remembered and more admired than their macho posturing.
A compelling and generous-spirited General Assembly took place nightly and then biweekly in which the most important things on Earth were discussed by wildly different participants. Once, for instance, I was in a breakout discussion group that included Native American, white, Latino, and able-bodied and disabled Occupiers, and in which I was likely the eldest participant; another time, a bunch of peacenik grandmothers dominated my group.
This country is segregated in so many terrible ways — and then it wasn’t for those glorious weeks when civil society awoke and fell in love with itself. Everyone showed up; everyone talked to everyone else; and in little tastes, in fleeting moments, the old divides no longer divided us and we felt like we could imagine ourselves as one society. This was the dream of the promised land — this land, that is, without its bitter divides. Honey never tasted sweeter, and power never felt better.
Now here’s something astonishing. While the camp was in existence, crime went down 19% in Oakland, a statistic the city was careful to conceal. “It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland,” the police chief wrote to the mayor in an email that local news station KTVU later obtained and released to little fanfare. Pay attention: Occupy was so powerful a force for nonviolence that it was already solving Oakland’s chronic crime and violence problems just by giving people hope and meals and solidarity and conversation.
The police attacking the camp knew what the rest of us didn’t: Occupy was abating crime, including violent crime, in this gritty, crime-ridden city. “You gotta give them hope, “ said an elected official across the bay once upon a time — a city supervisor named Harvey Milk. Occupy was hope we gave ourselves, the dream come true. The city did its best to take the hope away violently at 5 a.m. on October 25th. The sleepers were assaulted; their belongings confiscated and trashed. Then, Occupy Oakland rose again. Many thousands of nonviolent marchers shut down the Port of Oakland in a stunning display of popular power on November 2nd.
That night, some kids did the smashy-smashy stuff that everyone gets really excited about. (They even spray-painted “smashy” on a Rite Aid drugstore in giant letters.) When we talk about people who spray-paint and break windows and start bonfires in the street and shove people and scream and run around, making a demonstration into something way too much like the punk rock shows of my youth, let’s keep one thing in mind: they didn’t send anyone to the hospital, drive any seniors from their homes, spread despair and debt among the young, snatch food and medicine from the desperate, or destroy the global economy.
That said, they are still a problem. They are the bait the police take and the media go to town with. They create a situation a whole lot of us don’t like and that drives away many who might otherwise participate or sympathize. They are, that is, incredibly bad for a movement, and represent a form of segregation by intimidation.
But don’t confuse the pro-vandalism Occupiers with the vampire squid or the up-armored robocops who have gone after us almost everywhere. Though their means are deeply flawed, their ends are not so different than yours. There’s no question that they should improve their tactics or maybe just act tactically, let alone strategically, and there’s no question that a lot of other people should stop being so apocalyptic about it.
Those who advocate for nonviolence at Occupy should remember that nonviolence is at best a great spirit of love and generosity, not a prissy enforcement squad. After all, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who gets invoked all the time when such issues come up, didn’t go around saying grumpy things about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.
Violence Against the Truth
Of course, a lot of people responding to these incidents in Oakland are actually responding to fictional versions of them. In such cases, you could even say that some journalists were doing violence against the truth of what happened in Oakland on November 2nd and January 28th.
The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, reported on the day’s events this way:
“Among the most violent incidents that occurred Saturday night was in front of the YMCA at 23rd Street and Broadway. Police corralled protesters in front of the building and several dozen protesters stormed into the Y, apparently to escape from the police, city officials and protesters said. Protesters damaged a door and a few fixtures, and frightened those inside the gym working out, said Robert Wilkins, president of the YMCA of the East Bay.”
Wilkins was apparently not in the building, and first-person testimony recounts that a YMCA staff member welcomed the surrounded and battered protesters, and once inside, some were so terrified they pretended to work out on exercise machines to blend in.
I wrote this to the journalists who described the incident so peculiarly: “What was violent about [activists] fleeing police engaging in wholesale arrests and aggressive behavior? Even the YMCA official who complains about it adds, ‘The damage appears pretty minimal.’ And you call it violence? That’s sloppy.”
The reporter who responded apologized for what she called her “poor word choice” and said the phrase was meant to convey police violence as well.
When the police are violent against activists, journalists tend to frame it as though there were violence in some vaguely unascribable sense that implicates the clobbered as well as the clobberers. In, for example, the build-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the mainstream media kept portraying the right of the people peaceably to assemble as tantamount to terrorism and describing all the terrible things that the government or the media themselves speculated we might want to do (but never did).
Some of this was based on the fiction of tremendous activist violence in Seattle in 1999 that the New York Times in particular devoted itself to promulgating. That the police smashed up nonviolent demonstrators and constitutional rights pretty badly in both Seattle and New York didn’t excite them nearly as much. Don’t forget that before the obsession with violence arose, the smearing of Occupy was focused on the idea that people weren’t washing very much, and before that the framework for marginalization was that Occupy had “no demands.” There’s always something.
Keep in mind as well that Oakland’s police department is on the brink of federal receivership for not having made real amends for old and well-documented problems of violence, corruption, and mismanagement, and that it was the police department, not the Occupy Oakland demonstrators, which used tear gas, clubs, smoke grenades, and rubber bullets on January 28th. It’s true that a small group vandalized City Hall after the considerable police violence, but that’s hardly what the plans were at the outset of the day.
The action on January 28th that resulted in 400 arrests and a media conflagration was called Move-In Day. There was a handmade patchwork banner that proclaimed “Another Oakland Is Possible” and a children’s contingent with pennants, balloons, and strollers. Occupy Oakland was seeking to take over an abandoned building so that it could reestablish the community, the food programs, and the medical clinic it had set up last fall. It may not have been well planned or well executed, but it was idealistic.
Despite this, many people who had no firsthand contact with Occupy Oakland inveighed against it or even against the whole Occupy movement. If only that intensity of fury were to be directed at the root cause of it all, the colossal economic violence that surrounds us.
All of which is to say, for anyone who hadn’t noticed, that the honeymoon is over.
Now for the Real Work
The honeymoon is, of course, the period when you’re so in love you don’t notice differences that will eventually have to be worked out one way or another. Most relationships begin as though you were coasting downhill. Then come the flatlands, followed by the hills where you’re going to have to pedal hard, if you don’t just abandon the bike.
Occupy might just be the name we’ve put on a great groundswell of popular outrage and a rebirth of civil society too deep, too broad, to be a movement. A movement is an ocean wave: this is the whole tide turning from Cairo to Moscow to Athens to Santiago to Chicago. Nevertheless, the American swell in this tide involves a delicate alliance between liberals and radicals, people who want to reform the government and campaign for particular gains, and people who wish the government didn’t exist and mostly want to work outside the system. If the radicals should frighten the liberals as little as possible, surely the liberals have an equal obligation to get fiercer and more willing to confront — and to remember that nonviolence, even in its purest form, is not the same as being nice.
Surely the only possible answer to the tired question of where Occupy should go from here (as though a few public figures got to decide) is: everywhere. I keep being asked what Occupy should do next, but it’s already doing it. It is everywhere.
In many cities, outside the limelight, people are still occupying public space in tents and holding General Assemblies. February 20th, for instance, was a national day of Occupy solidarity with prisoners; Occupiers are organizing on many fronts and planning for May Day, and a great many foreclosure defenses from Nashville to San Francisco have kept people in their homes and made banks renegotiate. Campus activism is reinvigorated, and creative and fierce discussions about college costs and student debt are underway, as is a deeper conversation about economics and ethics that rejects conventional wisdom about what is fair and possible.
Occupy is one catalyst or facet of the populist will you can see in a host of recent victories. The campaign against corporate personhood seems to be gaining momentum. A popular environmental campaign made President Obama reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada, despite immense Republican and corporate pressure. In response to widespread outrage, the Susan B. Komen Foundation reversed its decision to defund cancer detection at Planned Parenthood. Online campaigns have forced Apple to address its hideous labor issues, and the ever-heroic Coalition of Immokalee Workers at last brought Trader Joes into line with its fair wages for farmworkers campaign.
These genuine gains come thanks to relatively modest exercises of popular power. They should act as reminders that we do have power and that its exercise can be popular. Some of last fall’s exhilarating conversations have faltered, but the great conversation that is civil society awake and arisen hasn’t stopped.
What happens now depends on vigorous participation, including yours, in thinking aloud together about who we are, what we want, and how we get there, and then acting upon it. Go occupy the possibilities and don’t stop pedaling. And remember, it started with mad, passionate love.
Rebecca Solnit is the author of 13 (or so) books, including A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster and Hope in the Dark. She lives in and occupies from San Francisco. She will be featured in our upcoming documentary, Occupy Love.
Copyright 2012 Rebecca Solnit
The Economy of Love
Here’s a short video featuring Rebecca Solnit, a hint of the upcoming documentary “Occupy Love.”
THE MISTAKE WE MAKE is thinking the corporations are separate from us. The mistake we make is thinking that corruption is only a political issue. The mistake we make is thinking that by eliminating the system we eliminate the problem. It’s true we live in a world dominated and exploited by the few, and it’s true that the systems we live by no longer support us; but it’s also true that there is a deeper cause at play…
The very consciousness which objectifies life as a means to an end – as an exploitable commodity – is the very same mindset which seeks to hate, condemn, and fight these structures of power. But we cannot fight violence with violence or create peace through war. Even those we oppose are our brothers and sisters, and only a consciousness which sees this can create another way.
Without a deep realization of our unity with all of life, including those behind the systems which exploit us, then we will simply create more of the same. For it is fear and separateness which create systems that dominate and destroy.
So in our willingness to stand up for what we believe in, there must be a deeper understanding of our role. Our path is one of great responsibility and reverence for all of life. We must hold our outrage and self righteousness within the truth that knows the way. We must surrender our confusion to love and our minds to our hearts. We must be clear that the role we play through occupation is a tool and never an identity.
If we fail to do this we may lose ourselves in conflict. We may burnout from anger and deplete ourselves through hate. We may fight with those that can help us and repel those we seek to inspire. So let us realize that real change occurs within the hearts of each of us. Can we face the darkness within our own minds, or will we project it onto those we oppose?
I have watched people react with judgment and divisiveness, and I have watched people respond with love and unity. I have watched people defend a system which destroys for profit, and I have watched people envision a way of living that works in harmony with all of life. I have watched people react with anger and outrage, and I have watched people respond with compassion and understanding. I have watched people react with violence and oppression, and I have watched people respond with peace and empowerment.
We need to live our dream now and create our future now. It’s not enough to say we want peace, whilst responding to injustice with violence; and it’s not enough to fight against something without creating what we’re for. Every movement, cause, and occupation is a living example of what’s possible globally. Every community which faces its problems with love and awareness demonstrates this potential. And every individual who chooses to embrace their pain, rather than deny it, provides hope and possibility for the collective.
Peaceful action arises from peace itself, justice from justice, and love from love. Do not become that which you protest against. Discover that change is now and within you, and not as some future promise. Be that which you desire, that which you’re for, and that which we need. Discover it’s here already and not withheld or lost. Discover you are that and share it – there’s no need to demand it with tears. Let your movements express this change, not fight against its lack. Let your actions arise from this change, not lead you further from it.
So let us approach those who write the rules of oppression with astounding compassion and enlightened respect. Let us set aside our beliefs for open and honest communication. And let us occupy the spaces that bind us with light in our eyes and love in our hearts. We don’t have to agree with someone to hear them, and we don’t have to like them to respect them. But we must always be the change we wish to see. Let us begin here and now – with the seeds of war we perpetuate. Let us begin with ourselves – the only thing we control. Are you in peace when you shout for peace? Do you embody what you demand?
If we respond with judgment they will oppress us. If we respond with opposition they will fight us. If we respond with violence they will destroy us. But if we respond with love, compassion, and understanding; there will be no power for them to infiltrate, no hate for them to corrupt, no violence for them to imprison.
In the face of love they will be powerless, in the face of compassion they will be confused, in the face of understanding they will be dumbstruck. In the power of love their love of power will seem obsolete and futile. This is the only thing they don’t know how to fight, and this is the only thing that can create a future worth fighting for.
Georgia Simone Servant of love, artist of words, sacred activist. Hopelessly devoted to sharing movements of love, and supporting you on your journey into the heart: www.lovemovements.com
Love is something we do. It’s active, it’s action, it’s process, not product. Don’t wait around for love! Be love, do love, fiercely. Love is not fuzzy, it’s not packaged, it’s not pink, it’s as red as blood, it’s life itself, and it’s not for sale. Occupy Love!
It’s that time of year again ~ love is in the air. Or at least in the shop windows. A day to celebrate love is certainly a great idea. Too often love is neglected, forgotten, or misunderstood. As with everything these days, Valentines Day has become yet another opportunity to turn the sacred into a product. But if there is one that cannot be sold, it’s love. The moment it becomes a commodity, it is no longer love.
So let’s Occupy Valentines Day – and every day – with Love. True love. That fierce love, the love that is justice, the love that is compassionate, passionate, alive. The love that recognizes that all things are connected.
But just what do we mean by that word love? In the last few years of shooting Occupy Love, I’ve asked many people to explain it to me. Almost every answer has been different, and yet they all work together. That shows just how big love is. There are many kinds of love – from the love between lovers, to the love between molecules that binds them together and enables matter to exist. From the love between the stars, to the love between humanity and the planet. The love from our hearts to the source of creation itself. To the compassionate love that compels us to create a world that works for everyone, a world that works for all life. Love is the current than runs through everything. Love connects the dots.
Most of the time, when I’m writing about love, I’m talking about the larger love, the universal love. But personal love is also a refraction of this great love, the love that is the creative source itself. When individuals fully connected to the source of love come together as whole beings, true intimate love becomes possible. A love beyond insufficiency and dependency, beyond all the many pitfalls on the path to romantic love.
Our society doesn’t offer us great role models – too often, romantic love is depicted as yet another dreary commercial transaction. I’ll give you this, if you give me that. Possession, ownership, control, fear, none of this is a part of true love. True love is not a transaction – it’s a relationship. It’s a process. It’s ever evolving, it’s ever deepening, it is always calling us to evolution, to authenticity, to liberation. True Love wants what’s best for the other, always. For we are bound together in a beautiful web of mutuality.
Today my love, Nova Ami, and I, announced our engagement. Our love is ever evolving, and we have decided to publicly declare our commitment to each other. Not as a transaction, not as a statement of ownership, but as a declaration that we want to journey through life together, through love together, as deeply as possible. With the support and witnessing of our community.
Nova loves to joke that when I started this film I was Mr. Love. By the time I’m finished, she says, I’ll be Doctor Love. If I do make it to that place, where I can truly embody the love I am, moment to moment to moment, it will be thanks in no small part to her incredible love. She offers me the greatest gift I have ever received – unconditional love. Nothing is more spacious, nothing gives me greater strength, nothing is more empowering, than this. Yes, love is always there within me, but to receive that constant reminder from another, who mirrors and reflects that love back to me, is incredibly expansive. At the same time, her love is completely grounding, supportive – a practical rapture. And I offer her unconditional love too. It is as natural and effortless as breathing.
We made this video together, our first creative collaboration, to celebrate and to share our love. We wove our personal love story together with the great love story of life itself, through the words of our friend and spiritual teacher, Hawaain Native elder, Kumu Raylene. She teaches that all life is love. “The essence of one being, or one creation, is love. Through our experiences of life, it at times can be buried deep within. But it is within. It is not something outside of ourselves. It is not something outside of anyone or any thing. It’s a part of who we are, always has been.”
This understanding helps a great deal – because we can stop looking for love. It can never be lost. So relax! When you recognize that love is the ground of being, everything becomes much less laborious. There is a spaciousness that emerges. More than just a thought, you can feel into this, open into this realization. Roshi Joan Halifax told me that, “being awake, is love.” To be truly present, to show up, to be mindful, to be here, fully – that’s love. To let go attachment, and delusion, to participate in each moment, moment to moment, that’s love.
My dear friend and spiritual activist, James O’Dea, formerly of Amnesty International and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (a potent combination, which shows you the breadth of James himself!) compared love to a keyboard, that has all the ranges – from the deep difficult low frequencies, that can very sad, connected to the vast oceans of suffering that we all will experience as part of life on planet earth, all the way up to the high, ecstatic frequencies.
James emphasized the schizophrenic split that we so often experience, between the head and the heart: “the head is a poor master, but an excellent servant, and the heart is a poor servant, but an excellent master. And that’s probably BS, because we’re past masters and servants. It’s time to end that game, and move towards the integral moment, where we have the loving mind, and the thinking heart.”
In this rushing world of endless distraction, there is much to block love. Like the sun going behind the clouds, it is never gone. It is always there, we just need to remember. Re-connect. Re-awaken. Love is a process, as is awakening. The moment we try to possess any realization, any state, and stage of awakening, it slips away from our grasp. For grasping itself is not-love. Spaciousness is love. Trust is love. Letting go is love. Letting go of what? Fear, attachment, anger, hatred, delusion- let them go.
Breathe love. Every breath can connect us with the ground of being. Occupy love, moment to moment to moment. Not in the past, not in the future – right now. But just Being is not enough. It’s easy to get comfortable, to want to stay in that perfect state of bliss, but love is a verb. It calls you to action – loving action.
Love has infinite arms to embrace the suffering of this world. Compassion calls us to action. Love in action is a great, limitless source of meaning. It doesn’t have to be something big – a billion small actions can mean a whole world of change. Of course, if you are a big dreamer, go for it, dream big! But if your gift is something small- do it well, do it honestly, do it truly and in the law of inter-being, you will be doing all actions.
Angaanaaq, a Shaman from Greenland, warned me, “to never fall in love. Because everything that falls, even the leaves, will eventually hit the ground. Instead, we can become love itself. What kind of love? Unconditional love.”
Rather than falling, how about we rise in love. Rise into unconditional love. Why settle for anything less? The unconditioned heart/mind is the primordial state, that essential being that we all are, beyond the filtering, beyond the cultural smokescreen that buries the deeper truths. It’s time to reclaim love! Let us support each other, always, with presence, with mindfulness, with full connection, recognizing and celebrating our interdependence. May the whole world rise in love. The time is now!
There are no manuals to read, no rules to follow, other than the open book, of the heart.
Love’s evolution is my resolution, my revolution, my solution. The time is now. 2012 is upon us. The beginning is here!
I’d like to offer you an invitation, an invocation, a wake up call. Wake up! (Zen hand clap) It’s time to come to our senses, and wake up! Listen – can you hear the alarm bells ringing? Can you hear the cries of Mother Earth? Can you hear the cries of Her children? Can you smell the stench of an industrial growth addicted civilization rotting from the inside out?
Look – have you noticed the species going extinct minute by minute, the disappearing bees, the melting glaciers, the rising seas, the expanding deserts, the suffering skyrocketing out of control, the politicians that act like childish lunatics, the greed crazed gamblers of Wall Street throwing dice while the whole world careens on their roller coaster of illusion, bubbles of hungry ghost money ballooning, ballooning, soon to burst yet again, banks expecting bail outs while millions lose their homes amidst the deafening roar of collapsing economies drowned by the noise of the dream factories of mainstream media encouraging us all to be selfish children seduced into a cycle of endless consumption by heartless corporations hellbent on using up everything this sacred earth can offer as fast as possible?
We’re filling our hearts and minds and bellies with junk food, junk television, junk video games, junk movies, junk music, junk toys, junk fears, junk violence, junk dreams, junk junk, junk and more junk for a society of junkies.
Wake up! (Zen hand clap) It’s not too late, it’s never too late to seize the day. Wake up! (Zen hand clap) It’s time we realized that this planet is having a near death experience. And therein lies the hope.
WHEN I FIRST heard the call to Occupy Wall St for a few months, I knew this was big. I knew it would be more than just a “protest.” This felt different than the usual march to voice specific grievances. It was a call for something more profound, and much deeper, than even the original participants realized as they gathered their signs and tents.
I knew because I’d be following the various manifestations of this movement for over a year, working with Velcrow Ripper as he traversed the globe working on his new film: Evolve Love. The premise is complex to capture, but simple to state: humanity is waking up.
On Sept 17, 2011, 2000 people showed up at Zucotti Park. On Nov 26, 2011, they are still there.
The mainstream media, if they aren’t busy denigrating the movement and highlighting its flaws, are still grappling with how to cover it. Who are the leaders? What are your demands? No answer has been given. Instead, they Occupy.
Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: “We found each other.” That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can’t be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful.
“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” “We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up.” And most of all: “Welcome.”
At its heart, Occupy is not a protest. It’s about creating space. It’s about modeling a new way of being, that requires a fair amount of “unlearning” the way society and human nature has been taught. It’s asking the question: why? Why are things they way they are? Is it, in fact, human nature to be greedy, violent, and cruel? Or is it possible that these are symptoms of a systemic order?
“Love is the felt experience of connection to another being. An economist says ‘more for you is less for me.’ But the lover knows that more of you is more for me too. If you love somebody their happiness is your happiness. Their pain is your pain. Your sense of self expands to include other beings. This shift of consciousness is universal in everybody, 99% and 1%.”
CHARLES EISENSTEIN is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution.
“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.”
This is why it’s important to Occupy Love. We need to be inclusive, we need to be whole, we are all in this together! Read the full article here John Hayakawa Torok is a critical race theorist and card-carrying member of the U.S.A. Green Party.
Here’s a moving submission from Patrica Arias… thanks Patricia!
From a third world mother heart weary of witnessing the cold machine of cruel materialism crush our families, our hopes and our kids future…I thank you.
Once I wrote ‘mothers of the world lets awaken those we love , these ones that pseudo-live in a sleepy mood narcotized by the system…lets rekindle the ancestral fire where women have gathered since the dawn of time lets awake them in our kitchens our living rooms our bedrooms…’
Ah! you have awakened and joy fills the heart .
The echoes of your brave stand resound like joyful bells throughout all our Americas, from the cold forests of north america to the deserts and forests of our south america…
we the people are awakening, we have found our voice and the call is clear, ding dong each of you, find your vibrational tone and sing for all humanity.
At the darkest hour of this cultural night you are the Light bearers that dispell denial … the newborn culture of Love peace and understanding is birthing…morning is breaking at last… the eyes of the world are on you and it is already a better place because of you. Thank you !!!
As soon as I saw Michael Angelo Bosch, I knew I had to interview him. He was clearly a big tough dude with an equally big heart.
“I believe this Occupation is not only to bring to light the injustice about corporate greed here in America, and the lack of understanding or regard about people’s needs by our politicians, but also solidarity to what is happening around the world: the injustice to humanity. We’re here to have a global awakening, and inform the powers that be that enough’s enough. This is why we are out here. Because what you see here is a new paradigm shift – a people’s revolution.”
“What’s love got to do with it?”
“Love can transform and change your life. People want change, but they don’t want to change themselves. But it’s individual people that have to change morally, mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m totally a believer in the power of love. And I love you people!”
“Thanks for what you are doing.”
“It’s soldiers like you and I, soldiers of Agape Love, that can help transform this country. This is not just happening in America people, this is a global awakening, this is everybody waking up. They’re fed up, disgusted, some are confused, they don’t know which way to go, or how this will turn out, but if we utilize our people power, utilize the power of love, through kindness humility and respect to everybody on this planet, we’ll find solutions, we definitely will.”
“They want to put this into a box. The media are always saying ‘angry protestors’ – but we have to transmute the anger into love, because anger is going to burn us out.”
“If these were angry protestors you’d have a lot of militant groups out here, or anti-government militia types. You’d have all these types of organizations that would want to take advantage of the situation. But there are brothers and sisters in there that diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand. We don’t want racists or people that want to start trouble, that want to come in here and break this up. And as soon as we see that, using caution and proper judgement, etiquette and respect, we surround them, we talk to them, and we get them out of the park. This is not about that.”
“Sometimes people think love is weak, or love is wimpy, but you are clearly a tough guy. For the dudes out there, can you tell them that love is actually strong?”
“Absolutely! I received a transformation because of some of things that happened in my life. I do security – I do security for the Park (Occupy Wall Street), and I also do security professionally. I’m a big man, and I know how to take care of myself. But I also know that under kindness and humility, the power of love can open up the true person you are.”