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Hello everyone,

I hope you are well. I've been watching what's happening the crisis in the US & elsewhere from far and have been disturbed by its mounting intensity. Like many others, I've asked myself what might be my contribution in this whole thing. I don't even know how to approach this question, but I know it propels me further into the inquiry of "Who am I?"

Because if I primarily identify as a responsible citizen of the earth, then I will feel a lot of injustice and need to act. But it doesn't have to be out of anger.

It's not a matter of taking sides but holding and tending to those disturbing feelings, regardless of whichever side I am on. It's worth going upstream to ask where those disturbances come from.

Is there a way to discover what is behind these systemic issues without pointing fingers and make some groups evil? How are the personal pain and the collective trauma connected? What is the nitty gritty of personal healing and collective transformation?

Here is the question that I have most wrestled with: How is this that some people are broken open into compassion by their suffering and others are drowning in it?

I found some deep resonance in the work of Reverend Kyodo Williams, a writer, activist, teacher and one of the first Black Zen masters. She lives through it. Here are some quotes from her interview with On Being that would be food for thoughts for us this week:

"For us to transform as a society, we have to allow ourselves to be transformed as individuals. And for us to be transformed as individuals, we have to allow for the incompleteness of any of our truths and a real forgiveness for the complexity of human beings and what we’re trapped inside of, so that we’re both able to respond to the oppression, the aggression that we’re confronted with, but we’re able to do that with a deep and abiding sense of “and there are people, human beings, that are at the other end of that baton, that stick, that policy, that are also trapped in something. They’re also trapped in a suffering.” And for sure, we can witness that there are ways in which they’re benefiting from it. But there’s also ways, if one trusts the human heart, that they must be suffering. And holding that at the core of who you are when responding to things, I think, is the way — the only way we really have forward — to not just replicate systems of oppression for the sake of our own cause."

How could one have such a capacity to hold such opposing, oftentimes painful truths? By remembering that we are not our thoughts, even though our thoughts make up our realities. We are before the thoughts. When we are in touch with that truth-before-thought, then there is a possible for long lasting transformation. As Rev Williams continues:

"there is this place of vulnerability from which truly transformative action must come from .... Don’t get me wrong in any way — there’s an enormous amount of advocacy being done, very hard choices that people are making, to put themselves on the front lines. But without this particular place and location of a willingness to be flexible, open, soft-bellied enough to be moved by the truth of the other in whatever given situation, then it is not transformative. It’s change, maybe; it can be moved backwards again."

What's the work then? In her words: "to do our work, to come into deep knowing of who we are — that’s the stuff that bringing down systems of oppression is made of. And so capitalism in its current form couldn’t survive. Patriarchy couldn’t survive. White supremacy couldn’t survive if enough of us set about the work of reclaiming the human spirit, which includes reclaiming the sense of humanity of the people that are the current vehicles for those very forms of oppression."

May we all see ways to reclaim the human spirit in this trying time,
Khuyen

 

 

 

 
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Quotes

  •  “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." - Oliver Wendell Homes.
    • A good reminder for those of us struggling with any kind of complexity, especially the complexity of our time. Here is an accompanying graph.
    • May we all discover the second naivete of life (the first one was when we were three years old), the innocence that has always been without no matter how much conditioning that has been forced upon us.
  • "You may not be able to make your dream come true, but you can make it more welcome" - from the Dream Builder Program.
    • I found this paradox to be reassuring. Still put in sincere personal effort, but also stay open to the impersonal grace.
       
  • "When it's not about this personal me, everything is a lot easier. From creating, working, building a business, even having a great relationship and life etc... Why makes it hard to be about just me? Because this "I" only exists in thought... and thought, albeit seemingly real most of the time, is only a tiny fraction of what is. Any time we (the personal self) could allow spirit to come into form, the oneness to become many in all different ways, it's a lot easier. That's what it does all day. Otherwise, if the entire energy of the universe has to fit into a little anus of a space calls "I" before it comes into form, then it's unlikely to be quite what it could be. It might stink a little bit...**
    • It's a horrible metaphor and an accurate one. Michael Neill in this great talk on Living Beyond Belief. A beautiful experience of living without having too tight of a sense of control that everything has to be that way.
  • David Perell on Contrarians: "Contrarians aren’t the opposite of everybody else. Instead, they think for themselves and develop their own shape."

Listening & Watching

Reading

Two articles by Michael Neill whom I have been digging recently
  • Smiling Money
    • Really good short article about how to experience money. Weird, but it changes my feeling towards money so much more. I have been so grateful these days when I go to the market or pay people, because I know such money is smiling.
  • Deadline, Performance and Pressure
    • Thought provoking post on deadline & pressure and how we think they might work, but don't.

Lastly.. 

A prayer that I discovered this week that could help with any struggles that you are going through.

"I am willing to learn what I need to learn to be fully realized, and I prefer the lessons to be gentle, even pleasurable, for myself and those around me."

May you be well,
Khuyen

p/s: Would you like some free coaching from me? I'm recording for a podcast for my coaching study and would love to feature you in it as a way to learn and share with other people who don't get a chance. You can watch an example episode here.  Do reach out by a quick email "Hey I'm interested" You can read more here

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