May 2011

by | May 31, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Late May, 2011. Vancouver, Canada

Dear Everyday Zen friends,

I'm writing this a few days after President Obama's speech on the Middle East.  The commentators and experts are now making expert comments on the meaning and implications  of what the President has said.  They are chattering and then others are chattering about what they have been chattering about - this is our "national conversation."  Which I always find so very very odd.  First there are the intimate facts of what is going on, then there are the social reverberations of those facts, and then there is the always-distorted reporting of these facts (which are always vague and dubious to begin with, and resistant to journalism: one reason why I am a poet); finally comes the interpretation, the chattering.  Which has its own life.

And this is how the world goes!

Poor President Obama.  He is a smart, sophisticated, and  heart-felt person, and I have no doubt he understand this process all too well.  He knows that he can only say something within the realm of permissible Presidential discourse, as such discourse has been created by past presidents and our current political moment.  If he ever said what he actually thought and felt, shock waves would roll round the world.  Stock markets would fall and governments would collapse.

I am always struck by the huge gap between what is actually so and what responsible officials can say in public.  Wouldn't it be nice if leaders could actually say how they see things and what they actually feel?  It would be strange and wonderful if there was honesty and soulful concern expressed in public discourse instead of posturing and hot air!  I think we would all become different people in a world in which such a thing were possible.  We would feel more connected to ourselves and we would be happier and more hopeful, even in bad situations.  As it stands now, we are all in the thrall of some weird spell.  We have the feeling that the world is not as it is daily described; and yet since everyone, including the most astute among us, agrees the descriptions make sense, they must!  But they don't.

If our leaders, who are prisoners of their roles, can't do this, maybe we can.  Why not take the risk and  come out of our own public postures  (we are generally public to ourselves) and be more honest and more heart felt in our expression to one another?  In order to do this we first must be in touch with ourselves: this is why we sit.  And then, getting up from our meditation cushion, we must have the courage to speak with real connection and honesty about what is on our minds.  Usually if we do this, what we have to say comes out of kindness, because we don't want to be hurt, and we don't want to hurt anyone else.

This, at any rate, is what we have been trying to practice in all the Everday Zen venues, from our local Zen sangas up and down the Pacific Coast, to our work with the Metta Institute, the Center for Understanding in Conflict, Company Time retreats,  Makor Or Jewish Meditation Center, and the Lawyers' Working Group.  Being honest with ourselves means being honest about our pain.  Speaking to others out of that honesty, realizing that they are the same as us, is always healing.

Lets keep doing this together!

Thanks, as always, for your support and your efforts in practice.  As we continue, we will eventually help create a world in which justice and peacefulness prevail. Little by little, day by day.



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