Class & Satsang Sunday, and Allen Toussaint
Greetings friend and Happy New Year,
I have kept you in my thoughts despite not having written you in many months. I have especially had you in mind over the last several months as we have had to bear witness to some of the most horrific and disturbing levels of violence in many parts of the world. Below you will find a reflection of thoughts amidst these incredibly challenging times, but here I will share my experience for those of you that are curious. I have made every day an exercise in allowing myself to experience personal and collective grief, anger, sadness, and compassion. I have made it a practice to allow myself to feel despair and hopelessness until a space can open again for possibility, which is always present, even if it appears impossible. I remind myself that the limit of my imagination has been surpassed in every way in my own life, and so it is possible in the lives of all people. I have experienced new horizons in my own life amidst the last year which humble and confuse me, but also allow me to experience a measure of contentment (a freedom from striving against what is) even as the world appears to divide itself into bands of hostility and violence. I remember that if there are new horizons in my own life, then there are horizons for others and I must exercise compassion to know that how people show up in these times does not determine who they are, or what is possible for them. I trust that there is a future where people can communicate through their differences, find new ways of relating, collaborating, and cooperating in each other's prosperity and well-being. As I allow myself to turn to wisdom, I am reminded:
It is the way of nature that all things are woven together. Nothing stands separate from anything else. There are more mysteries and unanswered questions than words could ever describe. Do not let the world fool you into believing that you are ever standing alone.
Our time in human form is extremely limited by default. Why waste any of it fighting to exist, when we DO in fact exist? The wisdom of nature, and the people who have always looked to it, remind us to invest in the connections that allow us to flourish as we do live our lives. Our precious time is more rich and nourishing when it is woven with the strong bonds of care and compassion.
Beliefs and desires are the common denominator to suffering. We suffer when we believe or desire for things to be other than they are. We struggle when we try to make the world conform to our ideas of the world. It is wholly impossible to argue with existence itself, and yet we invest countless years, even generations, clinging to futile arguments about our ideas and beliefs.
Nature has and never will abide by our conceptions of it. The rules for how existence operates are beyond our imagining because they do not operate inside of the binaries we use to understand or describe things. We can only know things in the context of the definitions and distinctions our minds create. For example, everything we know about particle and astrophysics is constantly showing us how little we truly understand how existence operates; but here we are killing each other over borders and identities that we entirely made up.
Life is completely absurd, absolutely marvelous, unbelievably intense and painful at times, and so beautifully humbling and inspiring all the time. If we get too caught up in our own mind we cannot appreciate or participate in life as it happens. This is an invitation to spend some time this year withdrawing from the containers of dualistic thinking, identities that keep us contained and separated, and limitations that do not allow for possibilities to present themselves. Make time this year, all your years, to practice compassion, curiosity, and contentment.
Finally, I leave you with this reminder that your life is valuable because you exist, it's true for everyone and everything, too!