[Below is most of the transcript of the commencement speech offered to the San Francisco Waldorf High School class of 2018. And here’s a pre-commencement writeup when i biked to the wrong address to be part of the Graduation ceremony. Yes! I was 6.5 miles away from the students, with 10 minutes to go for the ceremony to get started! Little did I know about the grace that was about to manifest, all around the Divine Feminine]
I’m still learning a Chochenyo greeting as a way to acknowledge the Yelamu Ohlone People, the Indigenous People whose culture have stewarded the land, water, air and energy of the watershed you live in.
Jai Jagat! Glory to the Planet!
What a blessing to be with you all in this special moment. Thank you dearest hermana Joan Caldarera, fratello Paolo Carini, and all the faculty, staff and the whole San Francisco Waldorf High School family. And thank you all deeply, sisters and brothers and siblings of the graduating class of 2018 for your kindness, after all, it was the Kindness and Gratitude Circles we’ve been doing together that brought us closer, and now I’m humbled that you chose a proudly undocumented and unafraid speaker to celebrate this day.
A hundred laps around the Sun ago at 1 astronomical unit, the grandfather of your school, Rudolf Steiner, created a calendar and he said this:
In this calendar a verse is inscribed for each week…. Each verse should resound in the soul as it unites with the life of the year. A healthy feeling of “at one-ness” with the course of Nature, and from this a vigorous “finding of oneself” is here intended, in the belief that, for the soul, a feeling-unison with the world’s course as unfolded in these verses is something for which the soul longs when it rightly understands itself. — Rudolf Steiner (1918)
So, this is the verse assigned in the Northern hemisphere for today, the week between June 9th and 15th, let it sink:
To lofty summer heights
the radiating Sun-being rises
and carries my human feeling
into the far reaches of space.
Deep within me
a foreboding sensation occurs—
faintly it tells me:
In time you will come to know
that a Divine being has felt you now.’
How special that these kind of seeds of awareness have been planted in the soil of your learning. How special that in this verse you are reminded that each and every one of you is a Divine being, you only need to feel the glorious rays of the closest star. And then, if you know where the water you drink comes from, if you know your watershed, you are bound to become a water, land, air and energy protector. All this is weaved with the seasons and the unique way we are traveling in this absolutely glorious spaceship we call Earth.
We Are Cosmic Beings
Without much noticing, at the Equator, we are spinning at ~1,000 miles per hour as a swirling blue cosmic dervish; we are going around the Sun at ~ 67,000 miles per hour; the Sun, in turn, is revolving around the Milky Way at ~450,000 miles per hour; and then our Galaxy is traveling through space at a breath-taking speed of ~1.3 million miles per hour, that is, you have traveled roughly 12,000 miles since i started reading this paragraph!
And now, what if i tell you that you are the first generation of humans who know that every star in the sky has at least one planet and that out of the 3,735 exoplanets detected so far (as of June, 2018), there are 30 of them that are less than twice the Earth-size and which orbit in the habitable zone where there could be liquid water? That means that we could have potentially close to ~40 billion habitable Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way alone.
Or what about your generation being the first one to grow up with the actual detection of gravitational waves?
Or what if you were aware of the trillions of microbes that outnumber 90% of your cells and yet they all live mostly in balance to bring about the unique miracle that you are?
Body and Mind Incomplete Without Heart
But this miraculous phenomena of the Cosmos we call human mind, which is able to figure all this out –and be soaked by the awe and wonder to humble ourselves through the fractals of the Law of Nature– if this mind is not balanced, if this mind is not connected with the heart, could be very harmful.
It is not a coincidence, that the heart of motherly love was present when the younger Richard Feynman finally touched bottom of his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) –due to his involvement in the development of the first atomic bomb at the Manhattan project, as he recalled– while he was having a cup of coffee with his mother in New York. He was calculating in his mind the amount of cubic tons of concrete and dust that could be produced if an atomic bomb would explode near them.
A sharp mind without the guide of the heart is a harmful and dangerous tool.
Technology is not the problem. The problem lies in our unbalanced minds. We can use a knife to stab a brother in the back or to cut fresh bread to create kinship. You don’t need to build an atomic bomb or an equivalent in order to connect with your heart. All these discoveries are expanding –as the Universe does– the edges of human knowledge, but all these numbers and insights without heart, they are not worth it. Some people say the longest path we will ever walk is from our head to our heart. What i call the path of Heartmindfulness.
Here’s a story that I love very much which I learned from one of my teachers John Dobson. John was a scientist who was part of the Manhattan project too, but he was able to stop cooperating with it before the atomic bomb was built. Then, he became a Vedanta monk but lasted little in the monastery because he used to escape at night to wow people with the beauty of the Moon, the planets, nebulae, globular clusters, the Milky Way and galaxies, by using simple handmade affordable telescopes. He is the one who created the Dobsonian mount telescope. He started what he called the Sidewalk Astronomers just a few blocks from here. Here’s the adapted story:
There was a king who had a very large kingdom and he decided to visit every part of it. Every time he arrived with his caravan to any of the hundreds of cities and villages, everybody greeted the king with gun-salutes, reverences and more. So it happens that the king was approaching the edges of his kingdom as he arrived to a remote village.
It was Spring so there was a vibrant feeling in the air and one could hear the children playing and laughing, the birds chirping and, –in what seemed to be the entrance to the village– there were colorful flowers, fruit trees and one could even see in the distance a group of multigenerational meditators who seemed to be having a circle of sharing under a Banyan tree. As the moments passed by, the king started to get more and more upset, angry and even outraged, until he exploded and yelled: “How is this possible?!”
A young wise woman who happened to be around the so called entrance heard the complaining and, out of compassion, started to walk towards the king, and as she was about to ask “How can I serve you?” before she could even finish the question, the king interrupted and yelled furiously: “How is it possible that everywhere I go, all people great me with gun-salutes, reverences and more, but here I don’t even get a single gun-salute! How come? what’s going on here?”
The wise woman gently smiled and approached the king and kindly said: “Oh! your Majesty! That is easy to explain” by then she was close enough to the king to gently hold his shoulder. “Good! I wanna know why.” he said as the anger seemed to have diminished just a little bit.
“There are 3 main reasons why you were not greeted with gun-salutes.” “The first one”, she said, “is that we don’t have guns in this village.”
“Never mind the other two reasons!” 🙂
So, similarly, there are 3 main reasons why an unbalanced mind disconnected from the heart is harmful. The first one is that you cannot be a happy-loving human being. Never mind the other two reasons! 😉
The story of the young wise woman gave us a glimpse of heartmindfulness as the learning to live in constant contact with the infinite peace within ourselves, so that it can be manifested outside and vice versa. In other words, heartmindfulness is a practice for activists to become more spiritual and spiritual people to become more active to embody the total (r)evolution of the human spirit! Heartmindfulness then becomes as the courage to live in harmonious communities so strong that make police obsolete and where there are no guns.
Part of the other “two reasons” are the many forms of disconnection we are experiencing these days. As my dear brother Nipun Mehta said at the Gandhi 3.0 retreat in the part of the Planet we call India: “By losing connection to Nature, we have created an ecological divide; by diluting connection with each other, we have manifested a social divide; and by ignoring connection with ourselves, we have deepened our spiritual divide.” All these divisions are the same division just manifested at a different magnitude in the fractal of reality. Heartmindfulness is an antidote for them and it has a decentralized emergent movement of everyday Gandhis with personal transformation at its core.
The smiles of the happiest people I’ve met are not conditioned by phantom wealth –cars, houses, bank accounts, latest clothing, number of friends in social media–, No. the happiest people I’ve met have considerably strong alignment with their head, heart and hands, what they think, what they say and what they do is pretty much the same.
I Learned Heart From My Mother
As some of you know, my mom had an unexpected death when she recently passed away on her sleep due to an aneurysm. But these are some things she taught me about the heart. Here’s a story:
I went to a pre-school and elementary school founded by an anarchist, so we have no tests, no grades, no homework, no uniforms, no need to ask for permission to go to the bathroom. To learn was really fun, as i sense is around here. But in middle school I went to a more traditional school where I started to get grades. I remember showing the grade report card to my mom filled with the equivalent of A+s and As in the part of the Planet we call Mexico. “Look Mom!” very proud I would show her the card –of course, overlooking the back of it which had any number of complaints from teachers. With an unwavering attention my mother would look at me in the eye and said something like: “Your A+s don’t mean anything to me. For me, you are failed because you keep teasing your sister, bullying your classmates and disrespecting your teachers. In my world you got F-s. Get out of here with your grades and come back when you have cultivated more humankind in you.”
Of course, I was too cocky and too immature to understand the wisdom of her energy and words. Only many years later I understood her. She was addressing at the root of what Mahatma Gandhi called the most dangerous issue after the independence of the part of the Planet we call India. He said it was: “Heartless intellectuals.” The clear advice of my mom was: don’t be a heartless intellectual.
She was evoking heartmindfulness as the real possibility to constantly align the head, heart and hands to be coherent with what we think, say, feel and do, and thus be able to spread this energy with every thought, with every heartbeat, with every word, with every single small and big act. Gandhi planted the seeds of heartmindfulness as “the eradication of the education that ignores the culture of the heart and the hands, and confines itself simply to the head”, understanding fully well that the “education of the heart cannot be imparted through books. It can only be done through the living touch of the teacher.”
So while my dad was a champion cultivating my love for critical thinking, social justice and sports, my mom was nourishing my critical feeling. The two are not mutually exclusive and support each other, because one needs intelligence to convert data into knowledge, and one needs experience to convert knowledge into wisdom. Of course, later in my life, it was my mom who strongly encouraged me to quit the corporate job I had, to follow my passion for Astrobiology by doing a masters in Astrophysics and joining an institute which was building a 50 meter diameter telescope.
Here was my mom’s heartmindful way to manifest the ability to hold space and deeply listen to my authentic self –as Richard Feynman’s mom did– to bring the best in us to heal our individual and collective wounds. Also with her encouragement to dive into my authentic power, revealed heartmindfulness as the conviction to know with every part and void of our being that we are the descendants of stars, that we are our Mother’s love and that our loving, compassionate, generous, kind, peaceful, wise presence is a Total (R)evolution. In a real way, heartmindfulness is the capacity to re-member that we are ~13.7 billion years old and the virtue to act accordingly.
My mother started working when she was 15 years old –younger than all of you!– in the very sexist Mexican society, so that her 5 siblings and parents could have food on the table. While my grandpa was addicted to gambling, she became the sustenance of an 8 people household so that some of her siblings could go to school and college. My mother didn’t go to college, not even high school, but I consider her to be one of my greatest teachers in heartmindfulness. In fact, when I decided to stop cooperating with the University of California at Berkeley because its complicity with making “safer nuclear weapons”, while pretty much everybody was trying to convince me to get a PhD from an unethical institution, my mother was the first one to tell me: 1) “I admire your conviction and I’m proud of you Panchín”, and the second thing she told me was 2) “Are you eating enough food?” 😉
We need heartmindfulness to put patriarchy in hospice once and for all with the power of vulnerability. Then heartmindfulness takes the form of the responsibility to disobey with Great Love and break the laws of men that only benefit the greed and ignorance of a few people who are exacerbating the destruction of all. The heartmindful support of my mom was a clear calling to stop cooperating with unethical institutions and systems of oppression. Then heartmindfulness becomes a healing practice to decolonize our heartminds through radical love.
This other story happened a couple of months ago when my sister, her two daughters, my mom and I were having a video conference. At some point, my sister took my 3 year old niece Emilia, to her bedroom and my 3-month-old smiley niece, Luciana –whom I have never carried yet because the non-sense imaginary lines humans draw in the dirt– started to get uncomfortable, almost to be on the verge of crying. All of the sudden, my mom, as if she were a master of classical music about to play her instrument, or a high-performance athlete in her element –like one of those basketball warriors making a 3 pointer from the middle of the court with no time in the clock… go love warriors! 😉 –, like a great skillful master, she picked her little granddaughter up and, as she sat on the couch, she created an amazing rocking cradle with her arms and legs. In mere seconds, Luciana stopped being restless and with the tender lullaby of her grandma’s voice she fell asleep in a blink of an eye.
Luciana looked like a little angel grasping a larger wrinkled angel who put at ease our hearts by giving birth to a little bit more compassion, a little bit more kindness, a little bit more love.
That was the last time that I saw my mother alive.
Her last embodied teaching was how to skillfully and lovingly cradle the world’s suffering.
It was pure heartmindfulness as the ability to alleviate suffering in ourselves and others, in that order. Heartmindfulness as letting the self die through the understanding of the wisdom of impermanence and the cause of suffering so that we can really live. It was a beautiful small example of heartmindfulness as the joy to lose ourselves serving others without expecting anything in return. Heartmindfulness as the embodiment of giftivism: radical acts of generosity that change the world. Heartmindfulness as the longing to selflessly serve, as another mom, the Lakota Medicine Woman/ Water Protector, whom I met at Standing Rock, Cheryl Angel says every day, first thing in the morning: “Universal Love, please take me to a place where I can do some good today.” Heartmindfulness is the longing to be instruments of service and love.
In this last videoconference, my mother told me: “You know, those 10 day silent meditation retreats you take, I’m ready for my first one…” In fact, it was during my last 30 day silent meditation course that I got the news of her physical death and also where I got the clarity that I needed to talk with you today about heartmindfulness. Here was my mom deepening her heartmindfulness and talking with her firstborn child about the capacity to master our mind and to be aware of our sensations to react to nothing and to respond with love moment by moment. She understood that her heartmindfulness was taking her to feel that silence is not the absence of sound, but the presence of everything. And as such, heartmindfulness is to surrender to the grace and mystery of life without loosing the clarity to love all our relations and sentient beings.
My heart broke a little bit more, and in the paradox of feeling the grief of her death and the praise of life and love, I’m grateful to have realized that never is too late to give back kindness to our parents by supporting their spiritual journey in whichever way. It is never too late to slow down and to look at one another’s eyes and say I love you as we meant it and as if our lives depended on it, because it does. So, I love you, I love you all!
We need to slow down to align our head, heart and hands and explore the infinite ways in which we are interconnected. Slow down to cultivate more humankind in us. We need heartmindfulness as the imperative to stop heating up the Planet and putting in danger the entire biosphere. Heartmindfulness then, becomes the practice to honor our ancestors to stop the clearcutting of ancient forests by stopping the clearcutting in our heartminds.
When I first heard the news of the physical passing of my mother, I took my shoes off and started walking barefoot on a path full of colorful Spring little wild flowers bursting into being… I started to feel the warmth rising through my feet, the unconditional love and support of Mother Earth, saying: “I’m here for you.” Then the path turned slightly to the North and then Grandmother Sun’s powerful rays were now falling on my spine as she was saying: “I got your back.” And so our Great-grandmother Milky Way reminds us with her sparkly and vast motherly love to become the walking stars that we already are.
Now, I feel my mother everywhere and it is our responsibility to cultivate our inner radiance and heartmindfulness to dive deeper and deeper into the innercosm to manifest it effortlessly in the outer cosmos. If fact, it is one and the same.
So we come back from the Great-grandmother Milky Way, to the Grandma Sun, to Mother Earth to our mothers, we come back to our own existence to cultivate more humankind in us. Human-kind, be both.
You Are One In A Billion. Don’t Underestimate That.
Now imagine a model in which the Sun is reduced in size by 10 orders of magnitude. The Sun would be the size of this grapefruit. And the Earth would be the size of this 1.3 millimeter in diameter chia seed. And the chia seed would be orbiting the grapefruit at a distance of 15 m [here please hold the Earth]. A human on this scale is the size of an atom and the nearest grapefruit, not any grapefruit but the closest grapefruit, would be over New York City! It will take you 4 years traveling at the speed of light to get there!
Now imagine you were a photon of light who was born in the core of the Sun. You are traveling at 300,000 km/sec in that incredible hot plasma of 15 million degrees Celsius, until you collide with a charged particle and you are diverted in another direction getting into a random walk process until you leave the Sun. How long will it take you to reach the surface after all these collisions? It will take you between 10,000 to 170,000 years! You would be already ancient light!
So, say it took you tens of thousands of years, moving at the speed of light to make it through the Sun’s core and atmosphere. And now, in outer space, you don’t know where you are heading.
Maybe if you happen to be in the light of sight of the Earth (1 in a 100,000!) a new 8 minute journey is born out of an even smaller chance to actually reach the rocky and watery planet –that is, say, from all the energy radiated by the Sun (3.86 10^26 watts) only 10^17 watts made it to the Earth, that is 1 in 10^9 chance! And yet, if you and other photons make it, the energy felt in the Earth is the sustenance of all life! Never underestimate to be one in 1 in a billion chance!
Perhaps you were a brave photon who almost got to the Earth and just when you feel-think you missed it –just a few hundred thousand kilometers off– then you encounter the mirror of the Moon and bounce to the Earth to be part, maybe, of the inspiration to write a poem or to compose a song or just to be the light of another sweet moment in the habitable zone of the Solar System. Or maybe you were part of those revolutionary hearmindful ray of photons who were seen by Galileo bouncing off the surface of the moons of Jupiter (a small lemon orbiting over there on the street), or bouncing off the glorious rings of Saturn…
Now let sink in your heartmind all the generations and generations and generations of fierce rays of photons who continually have done that pilgrimage for us to exist, to animate this Earth is such exquisite ways, for you to be smiling, or for me to be reading this. Continuity of practice scales in time and it is the secret of real success! And how special that this star-grapefruit is at the perfect distance to support life, and how special that in the cosmic garden of the Milky Way, we ended up as a seed of our star’s love!
So now, you could feel-think that each and every one of you is a very special Divine being, a descendant of a star, or you could feel-think how you relate to those special heartmindful photons who courageously made it through the 15 million degree Celsius at the core of the Sun, and now, indeed, you are ancient light heading towards the Earth for a 150 million km journey. For every billion photons who leave the surface of the Sun at any given moment, only one will make it to spark the great feast of life in the Earth! That’s all that it takes!
Here heartmindfulness is the humility to recognize our smallness in the vast Multiverse and, at the same time, embrace the greatness of the human spirit.
More importantly, don’t believe all this because I said so or someone you admire said so, not because a book or a scripture said so, but because you experience it, because you lived it. Go and live it yourself, criticize it, put it to test and if you find it to be a robust, powerful and a peaceful-loving way to live, then do it and even better: be it, holistically be it, just be it. Something as serious as this –we are talking about our complete liberation– needs to be strong enough to overcome any test, otherwise, it is better to find another way.
And it is now known that only 4 in 100 people need to be heartmindful in order to spark a nonviolent (r)evolution! So please realize that you are one of those divine wise and ancient heartmindful photons that give life, and who are exploring the outer cosmos and innercosm with love.
Heartmindfulness is penetrating wisdom. Vinoba Bhave said:
“The courage to penetrate and power to see clearly the meaning of things hidden beyond the situation prevailing around us and to act up to the discovered meaning is what is known as revolutionary insight … Revolution can take place only where there is this power of penetrating insight.”
So try a heartmindfulness (R)evolution! As the creativity to come up with organic borders that don’t need silly visas and passports. A heartmindfulness (R)evolution as a way to erase the imaginary lines humans draw in the dirt by erasing them first in our mindheart! A heartmindfulness (R)evolution as the courage to not only be proudly undocumented and unafraid in this part of the Planet but also in every single corner of the Earth. A heartmindfulness (R)evolution as the inspiration to be and model of how citizens and farmers of the world look like in the 21st century. A heartmindfulness (R)evolution as the honor to be a water protector, air protector, land protector and energy protector of the watershed where you live.
Reacting with hatred to the things that we don’t like and reacting with greed or craving to the things we like, it keeps us rolling in the wheel of ignorance and misery. To use heartmindfulness as a radical and revolutionary rewiring of the mind from like/dislike kind of judgment reacting all the time due to a distorted cognition of reality, to a cognition where we are constantly aware of either, how things are changing all the time or how things are dissolving and disintegrating each moment. Once we are able to turn off the mad habit of judging others and ourselves, the world feels a bit lighter. As Rumi puts it:
“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make sense any more.”
Remember that it is no sign of success to be adjusted to a sick and violent society and heartmindfulness is the alternative that has been put today on our lap. Then heartmindfulness becomes the imperative to be aware of real success –as mastering our mind– and the many kinds of wealth –spiritual, ecological, family, community, etc.– besides conventional currency, as the effortless form to be challenging the failing nation-state / corporate grip at its core…. as a way to foster the restoration of our connections, to be happy, grateful, healthy, joyous, free and kind, for in and on itself, is an act of rebellion. Heartmindfulness is in this way, the powerful force to overthrow Empires and compost obsolete Nation States and the capitalism with our mere presence. Our mere existence is the (r)evolution! In the simplest of human capacities, it seems, this lay the answers to our liberation — both from the oppression of our political and social systems, but also from the oppression of the greed, delusion, hatred within us.
Heartmindfulness naturally emerges as the indomitable will to dispel the veils of illusion, to reclaim the Truth and accept reality as it is. Heartmindfulness is the spiritual audacity to know that there are no enemies but the thoughts in our minds about greed, hatred and ignorance.
But also we are going to need heartmindfulness to feelthink that a more beautiful world is already present in our heartmind. Heartmindfulness to imagine and live in a world with many worlds in it. Heartmindfulness to really listen to the wisdom of the heartminds of all our mothers. Heartmindfulness to cultivate more humankind in us.
To use and be heartmindfulness as the priceless path of freedom.
Let me end with a poem for you:
Is it possible to control the course of our lives through rational choices?
How could a bird control the sky in which she flies?
How could a fish control the ocean in which he swims?
How could a star control the galaxy in which it shines?
In the fragility and brevity of life
practice being in receptive silence
go beyond duality
love in its eternity.
For a cosmic instant
let’s outshine the galaxy
as a lantern of humanity
as a supernova of love
and know, Beloved Angel, that
Love is the goal
Love is the means
Love is the reason!
San Francisco Waldorf High School Class of 2018, may you all be embodiments of heartmindfulness, may you all form an army of kind rebels connected to your heartmind to be fostering happiness, generosity and our collective liberation. May you all become compassionate, courageous and wise and may you never forget that love is the means, love is the end, love is the reason!
San Francisco, June 9th, 2018.
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