It’s the “What Now?” conference in Denver, Colorado and I’m following the action on my laptop. It’s astounding to be in the presence of so many openhearted, inclusive souls. I long for more “symmetrical” conversations about spiritual life. Although I have a few of them in Belmont and environs, it’s more typical that I bring up some aspect of Spirit and the other person doesn’t know what to do with me, doesn’t know how to respond … asymmetrical. I remain hopeful, however, that if I keep bringing forward the best in me, the best in you will respond in kind.
Here are my favourite messages from Sunday’s sessions:
(Amir Nasr, a young Muslim fellow who became discouraged with how his religion was showing up in the world, and wrote a book about that, called “My Islam”, a book that was banned in several countries)
“I just wanted to fit in and be safe. Going against the system got me so screwed, so beaten up. I’m a radical humanist, divested of all identities that had been poured into me. We need an identity based on citizenship, rooted in values – human values, shared values. Too many of us have been drinking from the poisoned well of separation.”
To what extent do I stick my neck out in life, saying what’s in my heart, even if that’s being critical of the damage often done to other human beings? If I get scared, do I shut up?
(Chris Grosso, sitting in a counsellor’s office at school, with photos and statues of various spiritual leaders adorning the walls and shelves)
“What’s going on with your walls? I thought you were supposed to pick one and go with it.”
Reminds me of a story about a Buddhist teacher. I think it was Munindra. A student of his had listened to a talk from another spiritual master, probably not Buddhist, and had been enthralled. Apparently, he then went to Munindra and apologized for straying from his teachings. Munindra’s response? Something like “If you find this other person’s words more valuable than mine, then go with him.” How refreshing.
“Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.” (Bertrand Russell)
What if my cherished opinions are confronted by “disconfirming data”? Am I a big enough (or empty enough) person to let go of what needs to be let go of, or does the furrowed brow of being right rule the day?
“I’ve been mourning my departure from an extractive life in which I was a master of the universe. I had to let go of that world and help co-create the generative world.”
Extractive, as in taking
Generative, as in creating goodness
“Discovering the great Ground of Being and your Real Self, that is your own deepest and truest being, is the only truly effective antidote to the epidemic torment that now drenches the planet.”
Act responsibly in the world … yes
Let go and let go into Spirit … yes and yes and yes
(Ken Wilber, on how the ecstasy of sexual love can awaken us)
“Transfer your feelings of loving your partner to loving the entire world. All of it. No exceptions. Go from making love to your partner to making love to the entire universe.
Not a single thing is left out of Big Love:
I love that terrorist attack
I love global warming
I love white supremacists
I love the Taliban
I love my friend’s bleeding ulcer
I love that metastatic cancer
I love that recent stroke
I love economic collapse
I love inner city riots
I love the HIV virus
Nirvana is very real. When the source of consciousness is traced to its very foundation, the entire world stops arising in awareness, and that pure cessation, that pure content-free awareness, is nirvana, where the individual is radically free from everything … This freedom is extremely real, not something we’re making up.”
Oh my. Can I really be this inclusive? And can I really let go of the world while living fully in it? I don’t know.