–by Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu  (May 12, 2017)

These are the times that try our souls. Each of us needs to undergo a tremendous philosophical and spiritual transformation. Each of us needs to be awakened to a personal and compassionate recognition of the inseparable interconnection between our minds, hearts, and bodies, between our physical and psychical well-being, and between our selves and all the other selves in our country and in the world. Each of us needs to stop being a passive observer of the suffering that we know is going on in the world and start identifying with the sufferers. Each of us needs to make a leap that is both practical and philosophical, beyond determinism to self-determination. Each of us has to be true to and enhance our own humanity by embracing and practicing the conviction that as human beings we have free will; that despite the powers and principalities that are bent on objectifying and commodifying us and all our human relationships, the interlocking crises of our time require that we exercise the power within us to make principled choices in our ongoing daily and political lives, choices that will eventually, although not inevitably—there are no guarantees—make a difference. […]

In Japanese, heartfulness is represented by the character 念 consisting of two parts: 今, now; and 心, heart. 心 is Kokoro, which includes feeling, emotion, mind, and spirit—the whole person. In English, “heartfulness” may be closer to this holistic meaning than the word “mindfulness”, which for some people evokes images of the brain as detached from the heart.

Minds and hearts are separated in a Western sense, with mind as reason deemed superior to emotion or feeling of the heart. Heartfulness rejects this dominance of the mind and intellect, and opens us to be guided by one’s heart. Being in a state of heartfulness means listening to the heart, to one’s inner voice and forgetting the self, becoming selfless. Heartfulness is cultivating the heart through inner stillness and silence, becoming more human, being more truthful with one’s self. It is opening the heart, becoming more loving, compassionate, and kind, to one’s own self and to all other human beings. Its practice is gentle, appreciative, and nurturing.

Heartfulness begins with mindfulness and extends into other ways of being, embracing vulnerability, humility, acceptance and authenticity. Realizing our connectedness with others leads to empathy, deep listening, and respect. We become compassionate persons and responsible citizens acting to eliminate suffering in self and others and in the world. Heartfulness is compassionate mindfulness in which the awareness of being connected to the self, perhaps a Higher Self and with everything and everyone makes us hate injustice and moves us to do things for others because their welfare is our concern.

Listen to your heart.
Listen with your heart.
See with your heart.
Open your heart.

What will your heart tell you today?

–Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu from his website [Illustration offered as an anonymous gift :-)]

Posted in ahimsa, anarchism, anarchy, ARTivism, Awakin Oakland, education, fearlessness, gift-economy, meditation, natural philosophy, noncooperation, nonviolence, Peace Army, satyagraha, Shanti Sena, soulforce, WednesdaysOnFridays | Tagged | Leave a comment

La Vulnerabilidad es el Camino / Vulnerability is the Path

por  Brene Brown (May 05, 2017)  [English below]

La vulnerabilidad no es ni buena ni mala: no es lo que llamamos una emoción negativa, ni tampoco es siempre una experiencia luminosa y positiva. La vulnerabilidad es el centro de todas las emociones y sentimientos. Sentir es ser vulnerable. Creer que la vulnerabilidad es debilidad es creer que sentir es debilidad. Excluirla de nuestra vida emocional por miedo a que los costos sean demasiado altos es alejarse de la misma cosa que da sentido y significado a la vida.

Nuestro rechazo de la vulnerabilidad generalmente viene porque la asociamos con emociones oscuras como el miedo, la vergüenza, la aflicción, la tristeza y la decepción (emociones que no queremos analizar, incluso aunque afecten de forma profunda a la forma en que vivimos, amamos, trabajamos e incluso lideramos). Lo que la mayoría de nosotr@s sigue sin entender, y lo que a mí me llevó una década de investigación aprender, es que la vulnerabilidad también es la cuna de todas las emociones y experiencias que deseamos. Queremos unas vidas espirituales más profundas y significativas. La vulnerabilidad es donde nacen el amor, la pertenencia, el gozo, el coraje y la creatividad. Es la fuente de la esperanza, la empatía, la responsabilidad y la autenticidad. Si queremos una mayor claridad en nuestro propósito o unas vidas espirituales más profundas y con más significado, la vulnerabilidad es el camino.

Se que es difícil de creer, especialmente cuando pasamos nuestras vidas pensando que la vulnerabilidad y la debilidad son sinónimos, pero no es verdad. Yo defino la vulnerabilidad como incertidumbre, riesgo y exposición emocional. Con esta definición en mente, pensemos en el amor. […] El amor es incierto. Es increíblemente arriesgado. Y amar a alguien te deja expuest@ emocionalmente. Sí, da miedo y sí, estamos abiert@s a ser herid@s, pero ¿puedes imaginarte la vida sin amar o sin ser amad@?

Poner nuestro arte, nuestra escritura, nuestras fotografías, nuestras ideas en el mundo sin asegurarnos de que vayan a ser aceptadas o apreciadas, eso también es vulnerabilidad. Dejarnos sumergir en los momentos de alegría de nuestras vidas incluso cuando sabemos que son fugaces, (incluso cuando el mundo nos dice que no seamos demasiado felices, que no vaya a ser que estemos llamando a la desgracia), esa es una forma intensa de vulnerabilidad.

El peligro profundo es que, como se señala arriba, empecemos a creer que sentir es debilidad. Con la excepción del enfado (que es una emoción secundaria, una que sólo sirve como una máscara socialmente aceptable para muchas de las emociones subyacentes y más difíciles que sentimos), estamos perdiendo nuestra tolerancia a la emoción y por tanto a la vulnerabilidad.

Empieza a tener sentido que desestimemos la vulnerabilidad por la debilidad sólo cuando nos damos cuenta de que hemos confundido sentimientos con fracasos y emociones con cargas. Si queremos reclamar la parte emocional esencial de nuestras vidas y volver a encender el fuego de la pasión y el propósito, tenemos que aprender a apropiarnos y comprometernos con nuestra propia vulnerabilidad y a sentir las emociones que vienen con ella. Para algunos de nosotr@s, es un aprendizaje nuevo y para otr@s es “reaprender”. De cualquier manera, la investigación me ha enseñado que el mejor sitio para empezar es definiendo, reconociendo y entendiendo la vulnerabilidad.

— Del libro de Brene Brown llamado Retándonos Grandemente: Cómo el valor de ser vulnerable transforma la manera en que vivimos, amamos, educamos a nuestros hijos y somos líderes.  [Pasaje escogido de Awakin. Comic creativo de Dharma Comics ;-)]

Continue reading

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Contributing To The Total Upliftment Of Humanity

–by Vimala Thakar (Apr 27, 2017)

Most of us are not aware of our motivations for living or our priorities for action. We drift with the tides of societal fashions, floating in and out of social concerns at the whim of societal dictates and on the basis of images created by the media or superficial, personal desires to be helpful, useful persons. We are used to living at the surface, afraid of the depths, and therefore our actions and concerns about humanity are shallow, fragile vessels easily damaged. Ultimately most of us are concerned chiefly with our small lives, our collection of sensual pleasures, our personal salvation, and our anxiety about sickness and death, rather than the misery created by collective indifference and callousness.

We have reached the point, however, where we no longer have the luxury to indulge in self-centered comfort and personal acquisition or to escape into religious pursuits at the cost of collective interests. For us there can be no escape, no withdrawal, no private arena in which we can turn our backs on the sorrows of humanity, saying, “I am not responsible. Others have created a mess; let them mend it.” The writing on the world’s wall is plain: “Learn to live together or in separateness you die!” The choice is ours.

The world today forces us to accept, at least intellectually, our oneness, our interrelatedness. And more and more people are awakening to the urgency of arresting the accelerating madness around us. As yet, however, our ways of responding are superficial, unequal to the complexities of the challenge. We do not take or even consider actions that threaten our security or alter our habitual ways of drifting through life. If we continue to live carelessly, indifferently, emphasizing private gain and personal indulgence, we are essentially opting for the suicide of humanity. […]

We can become involved in many acts of social service, according to our resources, without ever moving one inch from the center of our private interests; in fact, the very act of social service typically enhances self-image and self-centeredness. But we cannot become involved in true social action, which strikes at the roots of problems in the society and in the human psyche, without moving away from ego-centered motivation. We must look deep into the network of personal motivations and discover what our priorities are. Our yearning for peace must be so urgent that we are willing to free ourselves from the immaturity of ego-centered action, willing to grow into the sane maturity required to face the complex challenges that affect our existence. If we are motivated by desire for acceptance either by the dominant culture or the counterculture, clarity of right action and passion of precise purpose will not be there. We may be praised for our contributions, but unless there is a deep awareness of the essence of our lives, a penetrating clarity about the meaning of human existence, our contributions will not penetrate to the roots of human misery.

To be ready for social responsibility, we will have to be mercilessly honest with ourselves. Wherever we are, we are responsible to resist injustice, to be willing to put our comforts, securities, our lives at stake in fearless noncooperation with injustice and exploitation. If we adopt all the habit patterns of the enslaved—the fear, the acceptance of tyranny, the intellectual and emotional blindness to injustice—we deserve the inevitable consequences that are descending upon us in a dark storm cloud. If we are submissive, clinging to our small islands of security, naturally terror will reign. If we are willing to allow all others to perish—the peoples of other parts of the Planet, races, castes, cultures, religions; the other creatures of the Earth—so that we may flourish and endlessly increase our network of pleasures and comforts, obviously we are doomed to rot and decay.

When we come face-to-face with the actualities of human and planetary suffering, what does the powerful moment of truth do to us? Do we retreat into the comforts of theories and defense mechanisms, or are we awakened at the core of our being? Awareness of misery, without defense structures, will naturally lead to action. The heart cannot witness misery without calling the being to action, without activating the force of love. […] Social responsibility flowers naturally when we perceive the world without the involvement of the ego-consciousness. When we relate directly to suffering, we are led to understanding and spontaneous action—but when we perceive the world through the ego, we are cut off from direct relationship, from communion that stirs the deepest level of our being.

We can become socially responsible readily, if we have the fearlessness to cast aside all theories, ideologies, all authorities of conditioned society, to free ourselves from the grip of the ego-structure. When we perceive life as a whole, we don’t have to struggle to create interrelatedness, unity; it is the fact of our existence. When living beyond fragmentation, separateness, moving in wholeness, there is no barrier between us and others. On the mental plane, we construct artificial barriers, divisions, but in wholeness there are no barriers. Only relatedness exists. Then we share the sorrow of the world and in spontaneous total responsiveness we act.

The social action we undertake in this state will vary according to the scope of our awareness, our talents, capacities, and the place where we are living. When we live in wholeness, we cannot use any of the devices of the society or the psychological structures to put distance between ourselves and the problems of humanity. The awareness of oneness will sweep aside all doubts about our capabilities, commitments, all self-consciousness, fears about the work ahead. Wholeness is spontaneous energy which moves without the doubts, fears, insecurities of the ego-structure.

We may not act on a global or national scale; it may be only on a community or neighborhood scale—but act, respond, we must. According to our capabilities, talents will move easily, effortlessly into social action. We may contribute to social action by drawing pictures or creating pieces of sculpture; we may write poetry or prose to awaken and stimulate the consciousness of people, to intensify the awareness of the problems and stimulate values. We may travel around or serve where we are — there are ways and ways of engaging in social action.

Social action becomes an extension of personal life. We move into it spontaneously because we cannot do otherwise. It is a choiceless movement, taking into its fold the whole human global family, and that concern, that care, that revolutionary fervor is expressed in different individuals, in different ways. Some will sing and by singing put fire into benumbed hearts and arouse them, stimulate them to dedicate themselves to the cause of social action.

As social activists we do not use our talents and capabilities for self-enhancement, for amassing personal prestige. In an easy, simple way, the humility that the sense of oneness arouses, we each mobilize our individual abilities and skills for the total upliftment of humanity. Each of us will need to discover individual resources for social action and not depend on any revolutionary formulas or models. Each is unique.

–Vimala Thakar. Excerpt picked from Spirituality and Social Action: A Holistic Approach [Image is a poster from the upcoming General May 1st Strike]

Posted in ahimsa, anarchism, anarchy, ARTivism, astrobiology, Awakin Oakland, education, fearlessness, gift-economy, meditation, natural philosophy, noncooperation, nonviolence, Peace Army, poetry, satyagraha, science, Shanti Sena, soulforce, WednesdaysOnFridays | Tagged | Leave a comment

No Hacer Nada Una Vez / Do Nothing For Once

por  Pablo Neruda (Abril 20, 2017)  [English below]

A Callarse
Ahora contaremos doce
y nos quedamos tod@s quiet@s.

Por una vez sobre la tierra
no hablemos en ningún idioma,
por un segundo detengámonos,
no movamos tanto los brazos.

Sería un minuto fragante,
sin prisa, sin locomotoras,
tod@s estaríamos junt@s
en una inquietud instantánea.

Los pescadores del mar frió
no harían daño a las ballenas
y el trabajador de la sal
miraría sus manos rotas.

Los que preparan guerras verdes,
guerras de gas, guerras de fuego,
victorias sin sobrevivientes,
se pondrían un traje puro
y andarían son sus hermanos
por la sombra, sin hacer nada.

No se confunda lo quiero
con la inacción definitiva:
la vida es solo lo que se hace,
no quiero nada con la muerte.

Si no pudimos ser unánimes
moviendo tanto nuestras vidas
tal vez no hacer nada una vez,
tal vez un gran silencio pueda
interrumpir esta tristeza,
este no entendernos jamás
y amenazarnos con la muerte,
tal vez la tierra nos enseñe
cuando todo parece muerto
y luego todo estaba vivo.

Ahora contare hasta doce
y tú te callas y me voy.


Por boca cerrada entran las moscas
¿Por qué con esas llamas rojas
se han dispuesto a arder los rubíes?

¿Por qué el corazón del topacio
tiene panales amarillos?

¿Por qué se divierte la rosa
cambiando el color de sus sueños?

¿Por qué se enfría la esmeralda
como una ahogada submarina?

¿Y por qué palidece el cielo
sobre las estrellas de junio?

¿Dónde compra pintura fresca
la cola de la lagartija?

¿Dónde está el fuego subterráneo
que resucita los claveles?

¿De dónde saca la sal
esa mirada transparente?

¿Dónde durmieron los carbones
que se levantaron oscuros?

¿Y dónde, dónde compra el tigre
rayas de luto, rayas de oro?

¿Cuándo comenzó a conocer
la madreselva su perfume?

¿Cuándo se dio cuenta el pino
de su resultado oloroso?

¿Cuándo aprendieron los limones
la misma doctrina del sol?

¿Cuándo aprendió a volar el humo?
¿Cuándo conversan las raíces?

¿Cómo es el agua en las estrellas?
¿Por qué el escorpión envenena,
por qué el elefante es benigno?

¿En qué medita la tortuga?
¿Dónde se retira la sombra?
¿Qué canto repite la lluvia?
¿Dónde van a morir los pájaros?
¿Y por qué son verdes las hojas?

Es tan poco lo que sabemos
y tanto lo que presumimos
y tan lentamente aprendemos,
que preguntamos, y morimos.
Mejor guardemos orgullo
para la ciudad de los, muertos
en el día de los difuntos
y allí cuando el viento recorra
los huecos de tu calavera
te revelará tanto enigma,
susurrándote la verdad
donde estuvieron tus orejas.

–Pablo Neruda en “Estravagario“. Fotografía de la Foto de Astronomía del Día. (APOD) Continue reading

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The Healing, Life-Affirming, and Uplifting Human Experience Of Gratitude

–by Angeles Arrien (Apr 14, 2017)

The application of multicultural wisdom—the shared values and the inherent positive beliefs of humanity—has become known as perennial wisdom. Perennial wisdom has been passed on from generation to generation since the birth of humankind. It continues to surface among diverse peoples, unconnected by geography or language, yet inextricably linked to what is inherently important in our shared experience of what it means to be human. Of all the universal themes that have been transmitted through perennial wisdom, the expression of gratitude continues to be the glue that consistently holds society and relationships together; its opposite – ingratitude – contributes to societal dissolution and separation. The expression of gratitude is essential to humankind’s sustainability and survival. Gratitude’s stabilizing and healing effects, which have been researched from multiple standpoints—cultural, psychological, physical, spiritual, even financial—have made it abundantly clear that the benefits of living a grateful life are irrefutable.

If gratitude is a state of being that is essential to a life well lived, why then, in modern times, do we not cultivate and express it on a daily basis? After all, giving thanks and expressing appreciation for the blessings and gifts of life is a natural human response. Perhaps the key reason we do not make gratitude a part of our daily lives is that the accelerated pace and multiple distractions of modern life have simply made it all too easy to forget gratitude’s importance.

We need not settle for our present disconnection from the healing, life-affirming, and uplifting human experience of gratitude. By engaging with the perennial wisdoms, we are reminded of our natural capacity to feel and express gratitude. Through conscious and sustained practice over a period of time, we can discover again how gratitude and all its related qualities—thankfulness, appreciation, compassion, generosity, grace, and so many other positive states—can become integrated and embodied in our lives. And when people in great numbers choose to practice, integrate, and embody gratitude, the cumulative force that is generated can help create the kind of world we all hope for and desire, for ourselves and for future generations. […] Continue reading

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¿Qué es la Meditación? / What Is Meditation?

–by Vimala Thakar (Apr 7, 2017) [English below]

“Esta consciencia de los llamados movimientos externos e internos de la vida, es la meditación. La consciencia simultánea del movimiento total es la meditación. Si estoy consciente de la naturaleza de mis reacciones y del movimiento de mis reacciones, esta consciencia naturalmente resultará en liberarse de la reacción. No puedo detener la reacción, porque las reacciones se han arraigado en el subconsciente, en el inconsciente. No puedo evitarlas, no puedo renunciar a ellas, no puedo comprobarlas. Pero si estoy consciente simultaneamente del reto objetivo, de las reacciones subjetivas y de las causas de estas reacciones, entonces esto da como resultado la libertad. Así, la inercia de la reacción no me llevará con ella sino que estaré por delante de mis reacciones. No seré víctima de mis reacciones, sino que las veré como veo el reto objetivo. Eso para mí es la meditación. Una atención plena que incluye todo conforme se mueve la vida. La meditación no involucra actividad mental en absoluto.”

“Minimizar la frecuencia, la duración y el campo de la actividad mental en la vida diaria y vivir en silencio… actuar desde este silencio es la meditación. Esta meditación, este silencio, posee un enorme impulso en sí misma… No tienes que hacer una cosa. No estás allí: el ego, la mente, no están ahí. ¿Qué pasa en ese silencio? ¿Cómo se mueve ese silencio? Es algo con lo que se tiene que experimentar.”

“La meditación es observar el movimiento de la mente y cómo se relaciona, observar la mente en relación. Si intentas forzar a la mente para que esté en silencio al retirarte de la actividad, nunca vas a entender lo qué es el silencio… Hay una gran belleza cuando un@ descubre qué es el silencio en acción. La meditación es un nuevo enfoque a la vida total, que no te exige ningún aislamiento.”

“La meditación es un estado de total liberación de movimiento, de estar ahí y luego moverse en tiempo y espacio, palabras y habla, sentimientos y emociones, para moverse en ell@s en su completez, en su totalidad.”

“La libertad o la liberación no es algo que se cultiva. No es diferente. No es diferente de la esclavitud. Un@ tiene que mirarle, entenderle y ese mismo entendimiento explota en libertad. No son dos eventos diferentes y nosotr@s tenemos que mirarles no de forma aislada, no sentándonos en alguna esquina de una habitación, sino que tenemos que estar mirándoles desde la mañana hasta la noche para estar en el estado vigilante, en el estado de observación, sin condenar lo que sucede o sin aceptar lo que sucede. Sólo observándolo, viendo la velocidad, el impulso, la velocidad eléctrica con la que vienen los pensamientos, observando los intervalos entre los dos pensamientos.”

“La meditación es algo que pertenece a todo el ser y a toda la vida. Una de dos: vives en ella o no vives en ella. En otras palabras, está relacionada con todo lo físico y psicológico… Por lo tanto, desde el área pequeña de la actividad mental, hemos traído la meditación a un vasto campo de la consciencia, donde se relaciona con la forma que te sientas o te paras, en la manera que gesticulas o te expresas durante el día. Lo quieras o no, el estado interno de tu ser se expresa en tu comportamiento. Esta correlación de la meditación y la forma de vivir total es el primer requisito para el camino de la transformación total.”

–Vimala Thakar, selección de su libro “Mutación de la mente.” [Fotografía ofrecida como regalo anónimo ;-)]

Preguntas semillas para la reflexionar: ¿Cómo te relacionas con la observación de la autora de que la consciencia del reto objetivo y las reacciones subjetivas y las causas de estas reacciones dan como resultado la libertad, incluso cuando no somos capaces de renunciar o prevenir las reacciones? ¿Puedes compartir una historia personal de alguna vez que sentiste el silencio en acción? ¿Qué práctica te ayuda a llevar la meditación a un amplio campo de la consciencia? Continue reading

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The Transition/Composting of Casa de Paz

It has been a ONEderful journey, full of learning and unexpected opportunities to be in shared servanthood on this land that was –and still is!– deeply honored by the Indigenous Ohlone People. These Native Americans used to call it Huichin (mostly the East Bay).

It is of must importance to continuously and perpetually reflect about one’s ways to serve the Earth, because it may be that the circumstances have changed. The residents of Casa de Paz at Canticle Farm considered it was time to dive deeper into the values and pragmatic idealism that brought us together in the first place, to strive for the best human beings we can be. If one looks at the mirror and a genuine love flows from within to gently reaffirm: “yes, I can look at you in the face and say you are doing the best you can.” If not, one needs to catalyze change by waiting without anxiety for the signals that Nature wants us to follow. We had the intention to be Casa de Paz in Fruitvale for a decade but during the sixth year of this journey we started a different track to ignite the Great Turning in another place: one heart, one home and one block at a time.

As an experiment in gift-ecology,  Casa de Paz and its residents equally honor every single gift we are given. It could be hundreds of hours of receptive silence from serious meditators or it could be a few minutes of silent brain exercise from children; it could be a heartfelt sharing in Spanish or it could be a song in English at any given Awakin Oakland; it could be thousands of pounds of fresh organic veggies and fruit from the local farmers market, or hundreds of pounds of lemons, tangerines, peaches, grapefruits, apricots and avocados from the neighbors across the street, or it could be a super-juicy-right-amount-of-sour evening present; it could be lessons about how to cook Mexican/Japanese/Spanish vegan food, or it could be washing and chopping greens for Awakin Oakland; it could be a few coins from a formerly houseless neighbor or the monthly social security check of a grandma in the East Coast, or it could be thousands of dollars from (sometimes-anonymous)donors to pay rent; it could be the blessing to witness the growth of a mini-food forest next door facilitated by the wisdom of a neighbor, or it could be a little plant purifying the air of the living room; it could be a note of gratitude form one of our guests, or it could be boxes with fresh issues of YES! Magazine and Works & Conversations;  it could be bees’ wax candles to lit up our rooms at night or it could be your ignited inner star showering us moment by moment as you bring your parents to meditate with all of us for the first time; it could be the smile of families walking by, or it could be simply the opportunity to serve by bringing more peace and harmony to the neighborhood with presence activism and interacting with outmost respect and love with people involved in gangs —including institutionalized gangs! 😉

So when we were offered the gift to find a piece of land and/or a house in East Oakland, we naturally accepted the present and started to look for such place. After more than a year or so to look for it, for different reasons –sometimes it was clearly the uncertainty of our own life’s paths–, we still couldn’t find anything suitable for the continuation of this experiment in integral nonviolence, and we found ourselves in a situation where we needed to leave Canticle Farm without having a place where to land yet.

But the providence has surprises, and one of the neighbors –a member of the Hidden Creek Co-Housing Community– told us there was a house available in their community just up 36th ave. So in matter of a few days we connected with the landlord and we were able to temporarily rent a small house that we call now Manantial de Luz (Spring of Light). The address is 2070 36th ave, Oakland, 94601 California, Earth (map).

60% of the latest configuration of Casa de Paz’ crew left to initiate a path of parenthood in the part of the Planet we call Japan. Habibi Sam, Hiromi-chan and Bubble-chan –the yet-to-be-born baby!– are now in a six month journey to welcome Bubble-chan in a gentle and integral nonviolent manner. The intention of this new family is to be able to establish a sister community/farm/retreat-space in the rural side of the Bay Area and they have been already exploring different alternatives about how this could manifest. So we are looking forward to seeing how we could re-integrate, one way or another, when the Ui-Bower family comes back to this part of the Earth.

All layers of things change, more visible outside than inside but our gratitude for it all and commitment to our shared values is strong. Many people where touched by this experiment in community called Casa de Paz, and in doing so, our own lives were transformed as well. We deeply appreciate the multiple forms of wealth many of you have already gifted us in this journey to live in community. We are astronomically grateful for all the people who contributed with their attentive loving presence –from neighbors who became family, to love-ties friendships who continue creating ripples of goodness– and folks who actually lived with us, creating a more resilient, harmonious and loving Casa de Paz: Adelaja, Basje, Bubble-chan, Carmen, Ericka, Eva, Hiromi, Jason, Mallika, Mike, Miriam, Miyuki, Niki, Pancho, Sam, Sara, Veena, Wren, Xiao, Zilong and all the many short and long term guests who blessed us with their visits. And of course, all the Canticle Farmers, starting with Terry and Annie who invited us to start this adventure in this part of Oakland.

Gandhi wrote in one of his letters to a inquisitive writer about the power of living in community and the intention supporting it. So we are going to paraphrase him here:

Just think, the question doesn’t arise for any one to ask any one to leave. When Casa de Paz will be too feeble to sustain itself, there would be no need to consider as to who will stay and who shall be dismissed. Those who are totally committed shall survive — the question then will be, ‘Who qualifies to survive?’ We do not pay salaries but provide food. When that also is squeezed, who will stay enduring hardships, living on dry crumbs? That is the question. Even ‘Casa de Paz’ will not stay in Casa de Paz for ‘Casa de Paz’ is an ideology  — it will be where the ideology isAll these experiments are test cases to be applied latter, if found valid, on any part of the Planet where we want to reconnect ourselves with our true essence and our real and only mother, the Earth. If you believe that we are endowed with a strong will, you too are! For the Universal Love has endowed us with similar “Will”. The moment you shake off doubts about the capacity of your will, habitual fear, apprehensions, indecisiveness, we shall be all alike. The difference is that we have persevered hard to cleanse ourselves of many set taboos; if you too endeavor to preserve with determination, you too should be able to do it.”

May the compost of Casa de Paz serve as rich soil to nourish our collective soul and ignite the inspiration of society.

May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.

Jai Jagat! ¡Gloria al Planeta! Glory to the Planet!

In deep gratitude and service,

Eva & Pancho

April 2017. Oakland, California, Earth.

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Gandhi On Living In Community and Farming #CésarChávezDay

–by Mahatma Gandhi  (Mar 31, 2017)

Ashram life at Phoenix began when Gandhi, wining up Tolstoy Farm in 1912, moved there. Here are some excerpts from some letters he had written regarding community life and farming:

“There is no antidote to calamity except forbearance. I have no doubt that the means to strengthen ourselves are the same in the country as they are in this town. But the letter you refer indicates that Phoenix is the most apt place to groom ourselves. One ought to be fearless even when it comes to sleeping on the cremation ground; but the probability is that in attempting to try it out, one can collapse with fear. Likewise, your and my India is a cremation ground. In order that we may arrange our beds there and chant Meerabai bhajan “Speak Mother, speak”, we shall to equip ourselves here; such preparation is a must. I experience an inkling in me that I shall muster courage to face death at any time in whatever form it comes. I wish this to happen to everyone of us.”

“It is good you wish to inquire about Phoenix. The primary considerations to discover the soul and spirit to help us serve the country. Once this is done, Phoenix ideology can be explained. Morals should be sound for the quest of soul and spirit. Morals consist in acquiring the qualities of fearlessness, truth, and master of the senses. It is my opinion that in cities, where human beings live in congestion, where one has much to get lured, it is difficult to cultivate morals. Hence, experienced visionaries recommend quiet and isolated places like Phoenix, where you could get unique exposures leading to the very determination for the quest for the soul and spirit.”

“Be firm and consistent in the vows you have made. You will then gain a series of victories — over self, over the World– and achieving self-liberation, will get freedom for the part of the Planet we call India too. That is the key to the gates of all victories, is our firm conviction. In the very lucidity of this old wisdom lies its severity.”

“Appraise me with all the news about your day to day life. Concentrate your interest in agriculture in such a way that the whole Phoenix emulates you and is turned into a temple of dedication. Observe maun (abstaining from talking) as far as possible.”

“Your conviction that farming is tantamount to doing a good turn to humankind and is ‘worship’ as well is right. Thinking of Universal Love (God) during eating, farming, playing, bathing or some such daily chores is not only proper but obligatory. One seeking communion with God, does not wait upon fixed timings. Yet, young people need being regulated, hence the time which is not right for farming should be spared for prayers (meditation). Our scriptures too have mentioned the dawn and dusk as meditation hours, hence the prayer meetings that we have scheduled for late evenings are proper.”

“Keep up the enthusiasm about farming –enhance it by growing orchards and planting trees. It would be graceful on your part to offer services to each of your elderly teachers.”

“Try to be self-sufficient and make articles you need yourselves: get accustomed to do without that which you cannot make. If we learn to fulfill the needs of our life by self-employment and farming, we have learnt a great deal. I too must learn, but it seems I shall die without it. I wish it is not so in you case.”

“Just think, the question doesn’t arise for any one to ask any one to leave. When Phoenix will be too feeble to sustain itself, there would be no need to consider as to who will stay and who shall be dismissed. Those who are totally committed shall survive — the question then will be, ‘Who qualifies to survive?’ We do not pay salaries but provide food. When that also is squeezed, who will stay enduring hardships, living on dry crumbs? That is the question. Even ‘Phoenix’ will not stay in Phoenix for ‘Phoenix’ is an ideology  — it will be where the ideology is. All these experiments are test cases to be applied latter, if found valid, on the part of the Planet we call India. If you believe that I am endowed with a strong will, you too are! For the Universal Love has endowed us with similar “Will”. The moment you shake off doubts about the capacity of your will, habitual fear, apprehensions, indecisiveness, we shall be all alike. The difference is that I have persevered hard to cleanse myself of many set taboos; if you too endeavor to preserve with determination, you too should be able to do it.”

“Do not get upset if Phoenix, which was founded after assiduous efforts with the purpose of continuing satyagraha, gets disintegrated. Continue farming when in peace; when in turbulence, beg, labour or starve. ‘Whatever is done is never wasted’, I have firm conviction in this law which has no exception. Resume farming as soon as circumstances permit; if not, keep calm. Farming is a means and not the end. Apparently service to humanity is the end; though in close consideration salvation is the end. The means to both is farming. If the means obstruct the end, give up such means.”

–Mahatma Gandhi. Quotes from the book: The Making Of The Mahatma by Raojibhai Patel.

PS: Also celebrating César Chávez Today, here is his United Farm Workers prayer:

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
                thus I will know my people’s plight.
            Free me to pray for others,
             for you are present in every person.
            Help me take responsibility for my own life
             so that I can be free at last.
          Grant me courage to serve my neighbor
           for in surrender is there truly life.
           Grant me honesty and patience
           so that I can work with other workers.
          Enlighten us with song and celebration
          so that the spirit will be alive among us.
              Let the spirit flourish and grow
                so that we will never tire of the struggle.
             Let us remember those who have died for justice
        for they have given us life.
            Help us love even those who hate us;
            thus we can change the world.
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#SabiduríaLakota: El Corazón de Todo lo que Es / #LakotaWisdom: The Heart of Everything That Is

–por Ronald Goodman  (Mar 24, 2017) [English below]

La investigación sobre la teología de estrellas Lakota ha añadido nuevas dimensiones para nuestra comprensión de cómo este pueblo indígena generó la mentalidad para vivir lo sagrado. Muestra que sentían una relación viva entre el macrocosmos, el mundo estelar y su mundo microcósmico en las llanuras. Hay un reflejo constante de lo que está arriba por lo que está abajo. La misma forma de la Tierra se percibe y es parecida a las constelaciones. Por ejemplo, el valle de arcilla roja que rodea a las Colinas Negras se parece, y por medio de la tradición oral se correlaciona con, una constelación lakota que consta de un gran círculo de estrellas. Ell@s correlacionaron varias de las constelaciones a sitios específicos en estas colinas. Estas montañas aisladas, sin nieve permanente llamadas las Colinas Negras (Black Hills) son conocidas por l@s Lakota como el “Corazón de Todo que Es“. Decimos que es el corazón de nuestro hogar y el hogar de nuestro Corazón. Algunas personas miran las estrellas y ven sólo soles distantes esparcidos por el cielo de la noche, otras ven patrones de guerrer@s, animales y ven criaturas que gobiernan sus vidas cotidianas. L@s lakotas miran ciertos patrones de estrellas y dicen: “Ahí está el Corazón de Todo lo que Es, y ahora estoy en casa”.

Recientemente hemos aprendido de algunos artefactos que definen claramente este reflejo. Son un par de pieles teñidas: una de ellas es un mapa de la Tierra con colinas, ríos y las crestas de montañas, etc. marcados en él. La otra piel es un mapa estelar. “Estos dos mapas son los mismos” nos dijo Stanley Caballo Mirando –el padre del Guardián de la Pipa Sagrada original–, “porque lo que está en la Tierra está en las estrellas, y lo que está en las estrellas está en la Tierra . ” […]

Pare el pueblo Lakota el tiempo es un gran factor en su modo de vivir. El conocimiento de las estrellas nos ayuda a comprender esta dimensión espacial temporal más plenamente. Podemos ver ahora que muchas de actividades Lakota fueron programadas para reflejar movimientos celestiales. Las estrellas son llamadas “El aliento santo o el habla santa del Gran Espíritu”, el woniya de Wakan Tanka. De este modo, cuando l@s lakota observaron el movimiento del Sol a través de sus constelaciones, estaban recibiendo instrucción espiritual. Sus observaciones cuando fueron interpretadas por la tradición oral lakota y sus mapas de estrellas y de la Tierra, les dijeron qué hacer, dónde y cuándo hacerlo.

Wetu (cuando la fuerza vital fluye), la primavera, es el tiempo de la renovación y la regeneración, y de la misma manera el Sol, al amanecer y al atardecer, está dentro de una parte del patrón de estrellas trazando la renovación de la creación y la regeneración espiritual de l@s lakota. Cada primavera un pequeño grupo compuesto por personas muy leales a varias bandas Lakota viaja a través del Corazón de Todo lo que Es, sincronizando sus movimientos con los movimientos del Sol a lo largo de la eclíptica. Cuando el Sol se mueve a una constelación lakota en particular, viajan al sitio correlacionado con esa constelación y llevan a cabo ceremonias allí.

A medida que el patrón de estrellas se mueve a través del Sol en ll amanecer y en el atardecer, la creación está llenando, iluminando y fumando la pipa con un aro sagrado donde toda la creación está presente. En la Tierra, l@s lakota participan en la misma ceremonia de renovación de la misma manera creando un cumplimiento de la unidad de todo el Universo. Para l@s lakota, los sistemas cosmológicos, el conocimiento astronómico y las actitudes tomadas hacia la Tierra, no están separadas de la cultura, las ceremonias, las organizaciones sociales y del arte. […]

Por ejemplo, esta piel pintada contiene un mandala que expresa la visión personal de una mujer lakota acerca de la forma de ver al mundo de la tribu. El mandala caracteriza la naturaleza de este Universo como una oración, es decir, como una “conversación sagrada” entre los parientes originarios: la abuela del sagrado abajo y el abuelo del sagrado arriba. El reflejo en esta obra expresa de varias maneras artísticas el concepto de reciprocidad. El círculo representa la noción de Wakan Tanka (el Creador) como infinito, que lo abarca todo, sin principio ni fin. Es “algo sagrado”, mientras que sigue siendo incomprensible para la especie humana, “Indescriptiblemente misterioso” es un intento de articular en castellano la naturaleza esencialmente inefable de la unidad divina de Wakan Tanka. También el diseño afirma que para l@s lakota el Cosmos es una casa de familiares. Al nivel humano dentro de la familia extendida, este reflejo, esta reciprocidad toma la forma de respeto mutuo entre parientes de sangre. La autora del mandala sabía que “lo que está en las estrellas está en la Tierra y lo que está en la Tierra está en las estrellas”. Una figura de reloj de arena (dos triángulos unidos en sus ápices) representan una oración. El triángulo de la parte inferior tiene que ver con la Tierra y la parte superior con los cielos. El diseño representa una oración que viene de la Tierra, que va al cielo y es encontrada en medio camino por los cuerpos celestes. El ave, especialmente el águila, es un símbolo lakota de ese poder por el que se facilita (o se lleva) la oración de abajo a arriba. El reflejo de la imagen alada implica que este mismo poder es mandado hacia abajo como respuesta. En otras palabras, la oración es contestada. El pueblo Lakota viven en un Universo compasivo. El arte de esta mujer enseña esto, enseña que el Universo es creado y sostenido por el respeto mutuo y la compasión. […]

Para l@s lakotas, todas las cosas en el Universo están relacionadas, cada parte de la creación representa el todo y el todo está presente en cada una de sus partes. Todo en la creación viene y vuelve al centro. De hecho, la palabra lakota para ‘oración’ –wacekiya – significa “hablar con familiares”; o para expresarlo de otra manera, una de las intenciones de la oración es hacerse parientes con los poderes espirituales que residen en las seis direcciones y también con las plantas y los seres humanos, las piedras y los animales. Para l@s lakotas hacer hacerse parientes de esta manera transforma un mundo extraño y que de otro modo sería peligroso, en una casa de familiares, en una familia cósmica extendida donde todas las interacciones se basan en el respeto mutuo. Una persona lakota puede mirar desde el Sol hasta el búfalo, desde el águila hasta el árbol de álamo y decir honestamente y con gratitud, mitakuye oyasin, “tod@s mis parientes”, “éstos son todos mis familiares”. […]

El Corazón de Todo lo que Es fue creado para mostrarnos que tenemos una relación especial con nuestra primera y verdadera madre, la Tierra, y que hay responsabilidades vinculadas a esta relación. El Creador puso las estrellas de una forma tal que lo que está en los cielos está en la Tierra y lo que está en la Tierra está en los cielos, de la misma forma. Cuando oramos de esta manera, lo que se hace en los cielos se hace en la Tierra, de la misma manera. Junt@s, toda la creación participa en las ceremonias durante todo el año. El Gran Espíritu tuvo la intención de que siempre mantengamos especiales a las Colinas Negras en nuestros corazones, para que nos recuerden cada noche que tenemos un hogar sagrado. Y, todo lo que un@ tiene que hacer para estar en el Corazón de Todo lo que Es, es mirar un patrón de estrellas y estar espiritualmente con las Colinas Negras. Una renovación constante de la relación viajando a casa, a ese lugar especial, con las estrellas.

Así que esta noche, camina afuera y mira hacia arriba. Ve las Ceremonias Sagradas de la Primavera de las Colinas Negras, comprenderás y sabrás por qué este lugar es tan especial. Y luego regresa, de la manera en la que l@s lakotas lo han hecho durante miles de años, al Corazón de Todo lo que Es, al corazón de nuestro hogar y al hogar de nuestro corazón. Entonces, cuando el Sol pase por cada parte del patrón de estrellas, prepárate para viajar a tu hogar y renovar el círculo, una vez más, para que l@s hij@s de la Tierra de todas las direcciones puedan vivir bien, en la manera adecuada en la que el Poder del Mundo vive y se mueve para hacer su trabajo, para que tod@s podamos estar bien, junt@s, y con nuestras generaciones, caminar sobre el camino sagrado rojo, de forma que cuando lo hagamos, bailemos.

— Ronal Goodman del libro Conocimiento Lakota de Estrellas, estudios sobre teología de estrellas lakota. 1992. [Mandala lakota tomado del mismo libro].

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Self-Governance and World Community

–by Mahatma Gandhi  (Mar 16, 2017)

Gandhi continuously stressed the importance of self-governance, specially at the personal level. That’s why when a journalist asked him: “Do you prefer English people as governing race to other races?”, he replied:

I have no choice to make. I do not want to be governed except by myself.”

Was Gandhi an Anarchist? Gandhi’s “nationalism” stood to disband the Congress Party upon independence:

Its task is done. The next task is to move into villages and revitalize life there to build a new socio-economic structure from the bottom upwards.” […]

“Political power, in my opinion, cannot be our ultimate aim. It is one of the means used by men and women for their all-round advancement. The power to control national life through national representatives is called political power. Representatives will become unnecessary if the national life becomes so perfect as to be self-controlled. It will then be a state of enlightened anarchy in which each person will become her and his own ruler. They will conduct themselves in such a way that their behavior will not hamper the well-being of his or her neighbors. In an ideal State there will be no political institution and therefore no political power. That is why Thoreau has said in his classic statement that government is the best which governs the least.”

At a prayer meeting Gandhi addressed the concerns of a correspondent who asked: “Now that [the place of the Earth we call] India has been partitioned how can you call yourself a citizen of united India? Now what belongs to one dominion cannot belong to the other.” His response was this:

“Whatever the legal pundits may say they cannot rule the hearts of men and women. Who can prevent the correspondent from saying that she or he is a citizen of the world? Legally that is not the case and some countries have laws that would prevent them from entering those countries. But if one has not been reduced to an automation, as some of us have not been, what does it matter to one what one’s legal status is? So long as we are morally on the right path we do not have to worry. What we have to take care of is that we do not nurse enmity towards anyone.” […]

“The very right to live is only afforded to us if we fulfill our duty as citizens of the World. Nationalism is not the highest concept. The highest concept is a World Community.”

–Mahatma Gandhi. Excerpts from the from the newsletter My Life Is My Message (World Citizenship and Enlightened Anarchy). [Cloth mural “World Without Borders” made by families of elementary school Manzanita SEED in East Oakland. Illustration offered as an anonymous gift :-)]

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