Monday, May 29, 2006

"When the conditions are ripe"

In Coming to our Senses by Jon Kabat-Zinn, there is a chapter called, "Mindfulness and Democracy". I want to give you a passage today in observance of Memorial Day:
Of course, democracy can take root and grow in a particular culture only if and when the conditions are ripe. It cannot be imposed from without, any more than we could impose meditation on anybody, even though it too may be intrinsically beneficial. As a culture, we may be committed to nurture conditions for universal freedom, and liberation from oppression, exploitation, and ignorance as best we can for a complex set of reasons and motives that sometimes generate policies that seem to support the exact opposite. But to the extent that we care about true democracy emerging elsewhere, we also have to be patient, waiting for the unseen metamorphosis and inward transformation to take place, nourishing it as best we can, to the degree that we can, yet without forcing the chrysalis to open before its time, at least if we hope for a butterfly to emerge.

Since the potential for wisdom and emotional states such as kindness, compassion, empathy, devotion, joy, and love are already folded into our deepest truest nature as beings, their conscious development and deployment may make the difference between peace and perpetual war, between true security and perpetual insecurity, between rampant dis-ease and true liberation of human society from its own self-destructive tendencies. What do we have to lose by moving more intentionally in this direction, other than those ingrained habits of inattention and perpetual self-distraction that distance us from ourselves and keep us living in perpetual fear, forgetting that we are already whole, already complete, and that our true security is in a healthy body politic, in which we all paly a critical role?

Let us each cultivate kindness, compassion, empathy, devotion, joy and love through our meditative practice. And let us be the peace we long to see.

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