Shaking the world gently

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Where there is a lot of fear, there will be increased anger and violence and Gandhi is suggesting that instead of anger and violence, we learn to shake the world GENTLY. His satyagraha movement in India was sometimes labeled civil disobedience but to Gandhi it was using “truth force” or “soul force” to set the world right. The sanskrit work satyagraha actually translates as truth force and Gandhi insisted that nothing else works so quickly or so effectively in overcoming evil or untruth.

The covid-19 epidemic has spawned fear worldwide in a manner that has seldom been seen before, perhaps never on such a global scale. So whether you believe it is just a bad flu or a plague that will leave few untouched in some way, it has definitely changed the way governments work and the way business is conducted and the way that people interact.

Some have told me that it has brought people closer together, especially families in a way not experienced before. They have enjoyed the less crowded highways and the absence of large gatherings and having more family time at home. Others have felt even more isolated and apprehensive about their futures. There have certainly been job losses and financial stresses for many. I certainly do not want to discount the seriousness of the situation.

I do have a few suggestions based on the life of the Mahatma as to how to gently shake the world in ways to reduce the fear and violence and to move forward in these uncertain times. Actually, I think that all times are uncertain whether we see the uncertainty or not.

Gandhi emphasized the importance of courage in facing the enemy and in this case it is not an occupying force but a pandemic caused by a microscopic virus that wants to consume the world. We are now aware more than ever of how our actions can affect those around us–family, friends, co-workers and even strangers on the street. We can infect others without knowing that we are infected and we can become infected by touching surfaces where the virus resides and then transferring the virus to our mouth or nose or eyes.

The preventive measures are well known: avoiding crowds, social distancing, wearing a mask in public places, washing our hands and keeping our environment clean. But beyond that what is needed in these tumultuous times? Gandhi would tell us, “Full effort is full victory.” So extra effort is required at this time.

Isaiah has counseled us to “impart thy bread to the hungry” and the promise is that “thy light shall break forth as the morning”. Isaiah 58:6-12 goes into great detail about watching out for those who are experiencing the greatest need and the additional promises associated with doing that. I have it memorized so I can review these passages often when I feel like the darkness is creeping in.

When the Dalai Llama was asked how to improve the world i.e. shake it gently, he suggested that we need to smile more. Mother Teresa said, “Peace begins with a smile.” When Gandhi was asked the secret to his success he said, “My life is an indivisible whole and all my activities run into one another, and they all have their rise in my insatiable love for mankind.”

And according to Paul in I Corrinthians 13, “charity never faileth”. In some versions of the New Testament it is translated as “Love never faileth”.

The challenge at this time and it applies to any time is to “absorb whatever comes to us with kindness, calmness, courage and compassion.” The men and women throughout history who have been able to do this have all made a contribution by “shaking the world gently.”

India and Nepal 2017

It’s about TIME

Time is the currency of life to use as you choose. It is important to remember that the only investment that never fails is goodness. Invest as much of your time in that as you can for the dividends are huge.

As I have been pondering different TIME thoughts today, the following came to mind. Einstein ‘s theory of relativity proved that time is not constant but variable. And when asked how to explain relativity in layman terms he would often say to paraphrase, when you put your hand on a hot stove for a minute it seems like an hour, but when you sit with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute–that’s relativity. Of course that is not what he really meant by relativity, but it did amuse the reporters who were interviewing him and got him off the hook for dumbing down relativity.

Peace Pilgrim, an american mystic, had this advice on time. “Live in the present. Do what needs to be done. Do all the good you can each day, not forgetting the importance of a cheerful greeting and a friendly smile. The future will unfold.” So this was her take on the importance of living well in the NOW and trusting that the future would unfold beautifully without our worrying about it.

There is a well known saying that the past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift and that’s why it is called the present. Once again extolling the virtues of doing our best in the NOW and instead of killing time, we milk it for all it’s worth and treat it as a true treasure, the currency of life.

In this vein, killing time then really is a crime and it’s own punishment. Easwaran, a mystic and one of my favorite authors says, “After all, when the desire to lead the spiritual life and live for others comes to us, we can be haunted by our past mistakes and by the amount of TIME and energy we have wasted in selfish pursuits. . . . We are all sent into life for one task, to enrich the lives of others.” To do this, it takes time.

Einstein claimed that the only reason for time was so that not everything happened at once. We say to ourselves, is this even possible? At any rate, time is a dimension that we live in and with every moment of every day.

I guess it’s TIME to avoid Oliver Wendell Holmes’ charge that “Many people die with their music still in them.”

I would have made this longer but I didn’t want to waste your TIME!

The day of Pachamama (Earth Mother)

August 1 is Pachamama day (earth mother) here in Peru so the people make earth ovens and bake their potatoes. They call it a Huattia.

These are pics of Maria building an earth oven with her in it. This is the village that feeds our groups the cuy (guinea pig) and shows us all the work that goes into their weaving.

The village is called Llaquepata and they have the best organized women’s group anywhere in the Andes. The pics are of some of the kids trying to learn to ride a bike and Maria making an earth oven to do a Huattia.

Have a great Pachamama day!

The following link gives a great description of Pachamama that I highly suggest:
Pachamama – August 1st – A day to Honour the Great Mother Goddess

The importance of connections

The importance of connections –

We are all strands in the fabric of life and only working together can we begin to resolve some of the problems of poverty, violence and pollution that plague our planet. Someone once said that if you want to know the measure of your fear just consider how separate you feel from others. Most disconnection is fear based. Mother Teresa said that if you want to know why the world is in chaos, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

Abraham Heschel, a Jewish Rabbi, who walked with Martin Luther King Jr. at Selma during the civil rights movement reminds us, “As civilization advances the sense of wonder declines. This decline is an alarming symptom of our present state of mind. Mankind will not perish for want of information but only for want of appreciation.” Without connection there is no appreciation and without appreciation there is no connection.

The virtual world that so many of our young people live in certainly has it’s positives but I wonder if it can replace face to face visits. I believe that we all have energy fields and we project that energy into our outer environment. The positive energy lifts and creates a sense of well-being and the negative energy does the opposite. Peace Pilgrim, an american mystic who walked over 25,000 miles for peace, said, “Know this, that every positive thing that you think and say and do has positive effect whether you see the results or not.” Adding to that, Mother Teresa says, “Peace begins with a smile.”

The Dalai Lama, on a visit to Salt Lake City last summer, summarized it this way, “Our primary purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t do that, please don’t hurt them.” I don’t believe that I have ever heard a better rewording of the Golden Rule than that. As we connect, we naturally want to bring joy to those around us.

Mahatma Gandhi gives the secret to being connected, “My life is an indivisible whole and all my activities run into one another, and they all have their rise in my insatiable love of mankind.”

Ultimately, it is the connections that we have with others that makes life meaningful. Without connection, I doubt that anyone can enjoy life and make a significant contribution to the family, the community and the world. I believe that our greatest need as a human being is to give, not to get. And we will never really have joy in our own lives if we don’t find ways to enrich the lives of those around us. That is both the challenge and the opportunity!