by Pancho Ramos-Stierle (April 12, 2019)
[This is an excerpt of the full commencement speech given in June 9th of 2018]
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 evokingheartmindfulness 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.”
[Taken from the transcript of the commencement speech offered to the San Francisco Waldorf High School class of 2018.]
“Some people say the longest path we will ever walk is from our head to our heart. What I call the path of Heartmindfulness. –Pancho Ramos Stierle”.
Follow Pancho’s present Pilgrimage at https://earthfamilia.org/ with a purpose to dissolve borders (physical, intellectual, cultural, among many others) and to plant seeds of oneness in our planet/communities. You too can participate: click here to support this pilgrimage.