Spring came early in the form of a week of incredible growth. In the past 7 days, I had three incredible experiences that I wish to share with you with a serendipitous surprise that could generate huge waves of Peace.
If you don’t know who Jeff Foster is, today is your lucky day. In a small church room surrounded by windows, about 40 disciples sat around an unassuming bearded man giving a sermon. Here are excerpts of the Gospel shared that day.
“Your life is suppose to be imperfect/a mess.”
Jeff compared consciousness to an ocean. All different kinds of waves are parts of the ocean. The ocean already accepts all its waves. It IS its waves. We on the other hand, prefer certain waves of joy and happiness over waves of grief and suffering. We try to stop the waves or ignore some waves. We like to say, “life has gone wrong.” How can life go wrong? All these waves, all this messiness, is who we are. Thus, “acceptance is not something you do; it is what you are.”
“Your life is not working out perfectly.”
The “not working out” of your life is perfect. Life is so intelligent; it gives you exactly what you need. Our suffering is caused by comparing this moment with our view of how this moment should be like, our view of a perfect moment.
“If everything is ok in the present moment, then EVERYTHING is ok.”
The only thing that makes us believe that everything is not ok is our inability to stay in the present moment–to get stuck in the past or fear the future.
Completion of Cultivating Compassion Training from the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education
Wednesday night wrapped up the Cultivating Compassion Training (CCT) that my wife and I have been taking. I came to two realizations on Wednesday.
1) More men need to take this class. Only 1 other man besides myself completed the class. The class was predominately women. Most men who started the class dropped out during the 9 weeks of meetings. This strengthens my resolve to work on gender equality in order to bring peace.
2) Although I knew about compassion for most of my life, I had never learned to cultivate it. In the class, we were given cds of guided meditation narrated by Thupten Jimpa, the Dalai Lama’s English translator. I don’t usually like guided meditation, but since it was for the class, I followed the program. After 9 weeks of guided meditation, I discovered a new feeling in my heart. It’s hard to describe, but it feels like a warm heart hug. I try to cultivate this feeling as much as possible.
Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion Conference
In contrast to the Jeff Foster event, this conference put on by The Great Good Science Center attracted what looked like over a thousand attendees. Jon Kabat-Zinn gave the keynote. Here are some highlights.
After starting off with a mindfulness meditation, Jon joked about a presentation he gave at Wisdom 2.0 where people were on their iPads during the meditation tweeting, “I’m meditating with Jon Kabat-Zinn.”
When a cell phone went off, he pulled out his cell phone and pretended to call himself, “Hello, Jon, are you here?” Mindfulness is so tough with super-computers in our pockets to distract us.
Jon focused on keeping what Zen masters call a Beginner’s Mind.
“When we know that we don’t know, that is a kind of wisdom.”
“Whatever the story you’re telling yourself, it’s wrong.”
He quoted the one sentence that the Buddha claimed summed up his 45 years of teaching, “Nothing is to be clung to as I, me, and mine.”
Before ending with poems by Emily Dickinson and Derek Walcott, Kabat-Zinn quoted Thupten Jinpa, “poetry moistens the heart.” Since Jinpa narrated the guided meditations I had been doing for CCT, it came as no surprise that his words described the feeling that I had discovered in my heart. I thought of it as a hug, but Jinpa was more accurate–it was more of a juicy and moist feeling.
After powerful presentations by Kristen Neff on Self-Compassion (more about Kristen in a future post), Paul Gilbert, Shauna Shapiro, and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, there was a panel presentation focused on mindfulness in the field. One of the presenters was Robert McClure, a staff member for CCT. During the Q&A, I asked a question about gender differences and compassion that sparked a long discussion. When I approached the stage to continue the discussion with some of the panelist, a stylish young man asked me if I was the one who asked the question about gender.
He introduced himself and asked me if I would be willing to write an article for The Greater Good website about my question. When I glanced at the card he gave me, I recognized the his name as the author of the two books I had bought at the conference–The Daddy Shift and Are We Born Racist? Isn’t serendipity amazing?
Needless to say, after spending all day Friday at a conference and focusing my energies on researching and writing an article for The Greater Good website, I have fallen behind on blogging. I apologize in advance if I am not able to read and comment as much as I’d like to in the upcoming weeks since I’m prioritizing this article.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.
Was last week full of growth and serendipity for you? Please share.