Autumn 94, Winter 95 Issue
"Bringing out the best in our daily lives" --Autumn '94/Winter '95
I appreciate your interest in HeartWing. I've been editing and publishing it since May 1991, and it currently is mailed to subscribers in the form of a 5-1/2" x 8" booklet. Converting it to text, of course, eliminates variations in spacing, fonts, etc., but I hope it's clear enough to read fairly easily.
HeartWing relies on the contributions of insights, experiences, observations, etc., from others, and I hope you will want to contribute your ideas. This most recent issue is shorter and has less variety than previous ones because I was rushing to get it out during the holiday. I will be converting the issue previous to this one into text and will be happy to e-mail it to you, if you like, so you can get a little more idea of the wide variety of articles people have submitted.
Please let me know what you think and feel free to offer your feedback and suggestions. HeartWing is not a commercial venture--but rather an effort to connect with others on a heart level, so to speak. I try to keep the costs of producing it low, and greatly appreciate donations to help out with my costs in time, materials, and postage. Thanks again for your interest. I look forward to hearing from you.
Usually I have a picture of a family on the front--and I welcome submissions of pictures. You too can be on the cover of a magazine! See http://www.pacifier.com/~hrtwing for the cover of this issue.
The following is from the inside front cover. Often I may put some sort of personal message here from me to the readers.
Celebrating Our Connectedness
It's an interesting custom--sending cards at Christmas time. I was thinking about why I wanted to give this abbreviated HeartWing greeting to you during the holiday season and why I appreciated receiving letters from you. I like acknowledging the importance of you in my life and feeling grateful for the memories of what we have communicated or done together. I also like reaffirming the beautiful shared hopes of humankind for peace, joy, and universal good will, and the desire (though often obscured) to see the Christ-ness in each other, and ourselves, and to honor it and express our love with gifts. This season heightens our awareness of our yearning for close connection with each other and with our own nobility. At this time of gift lists, we certainly also feel the conflicting pull of what Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson call the "forces of materialism and selfishness" (see "Toward True Intimacy and Hope").
In this issue (shortened so I could get it out during the holiday) are articles which I hope can help us, individually and collectively, to make 1995 the best year yet for our global family.
Thank you very much for your support of HeartWing and for all you do to make a difference in others' lives.
Happy Holidays And Every Day from my family and me.
HeartWing's purpose is to help us learn from, connect to, and more deeply value the heart and insight of each other, beyond any differences in race, religion, nationality, or gender.
To subscribe, send your name, address, and a donation to cover costs of publishing and postage for four issues to:
12715 NE 7th Place
Vancouver, WA 98684
Please also send your ideas, experiences, insights, etc., and indicate if I may publish your name and address. Thanks!
I encourage you to make copies of HW to share with others, but please notify me if you want to use sections of HW in other publications. If so, include how people can contribute and subscribe to HW. Do not reproduce for mass distribution or for profit without my written permission.
The text of the issue follows below. I include pictures of contributers whenever possible. Also, I often preface each article with my comments or explanation in italics. I'll indicate my words here by following them with my initials, "VC".
Learning To Be Close
From the editor [Victoria Clevenger - VC]
Once a group of us were sharing what our idea of heaven was. We each had some sort of idealistic vision, but I remember only what a philosophy professor from Germany said: "Heaven is sitting around and laughing with a group of friends." At the time I thought that was rather superficial and even limited. However, more and more I see the in-touch-with-self-and-the-moment-ness behind what he said.
Barry Kaufman (author of Son-Rise and Happiness Is a Choice, Summer '93 HW) wrote another beautiful book called To Love Is to Be Happy With. What a simple way to describe nourishing loving closeness.
But if much of our life experience has taught us to be closed instead of close, we often have to humbly learn how to create true and joyful intimacy with others--and with our own best self. My relationship with my husband improved a quantum leap when I finally began to allow myself to learn from him, to practice what Jon Townsend, an international conflict mediator, calls the "Platinum Rule": Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.
In my work trying to help teens and preteens make healthy choices, a bottom-line issue is the longing for emotional intimacy. We all need it, but it's not easy to achieve. We can learn, though.
Gertrud Yasutake writes: "Here is a good quote I found in the book Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World, by H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen:
In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. --Eric Hoffer."
Learning is a profound ability and joy. For me, it's the true entertainment, beside which other more passive activities seem like junk food. It's growth. It requires a conscious engaged mind, however, and too often we seem to be on automatic pilot, with controls that may have been set generations ago.
Learning and the change that can result also require courage. Just as in some inner city neighborhoods there is intense peer pressure against kids doing well in school, similarly many of us exist in social and cultural environs that don't encourage us to rise above the mediocrity around us.
I'd like to share some wonderful comments from clinical psychologist, Dr. George Pransky. Though he specifically is advising parents on how to relate with their kids, his insight is universally applicable. His basic assumption is that we all innately have healthy functioning available to us; we can always access what he calls our "commonsense," our inner wisdom and creativity, IF we are in what he calls a higher, responsive state of mind vs. a lower or reactive state, or mood.
He feels that giving children a warm, forgiving, lighthearted emotional environment is essential. In such an environment, the parent and child have a close rapport, the child tends to feel secure and happy, and, like a plant with plenty of light, warmth, and nutrients, the child naturally grows to be healthy and happy.
He says our healthy state of mind often becomes increasingly contaminated as we grow older and we may even lose touch with it. Then we operate on the lower levels of conflict and stress--and devote our time and energy to coping with these, rather than realizing that the healthy state is within our reach if we just relax and let go of our contaminated thinking. When in that higher state, we naturally do things well, and don't need parenting "strategies." Our "heart is in the right place," so to speak.
Kids are often more in touch with this innate wisdom and creativity, and Dr. Pransky says the best way to help our children become self- reliant is to encourage them to connect with and practice this commonsense. He advises us to parent from a deep trust that the child wants to be good, and if s/he is "misbehaving," it is because something needs to be learned--either by the child or by us, or both.
"So when you listen to kids, you can respect their commonsense, even though they don't have the experience you do and aren't the boss. This can lead you to a higher place possibly, or at least to a meeting of the minds with your kids, and out of that can come something better than you've already conceived of.
The wiser people are, the more respect they have for their kids, and in turn, the better is their rapport, the more they learn from their kids, the higher their kids' self-esteem, and the greater the kids' ability to use that commonsense. If you don't listen to them because you 'know better' and you don't let them practice their commonsense and their rapport, then you're leading them away from it and they'll grow farther away from it like you are.
"Inside of everything your kid, or anyone, says, there will be a grain of truth and you have to listen until that grain of truth comes out and you can say, 'Oh yeah, I can relate to that; I don't agree with it, but I can imagine a reasonable person saying that.' That's when you respect it. In every interaction you have, ideally, you get to that point of respect.
"Our state of mind affects the quality of our thinking. The important thing to remember is that if you clear your mind, you will have a healthy state of mind. The reactive state of mind comes from actively contaminating your healthy state of mind."
His description of three levels of parenting relationships apply to all relationships:
"The lowest level is where there's conflict, adversariness between parents and child; everybody's looking out for their own interests, and there's no meeting ground of commonsense or principle, just a tug of war. This reality has a lot of anger, resentment, and bitterness toward each other. Kids who grow up on this level have a chip on their shoulder, problems with authority, and low self-esteem, etc.
"Second is the reality of stress. This isn't conflict. This is families that are basically getting along and improving over time, but it's stressful. . . . Instead of giving others the benefit of the doubt, there's a little suspicion on people's parts. These families tend to try various 'parenting strategies,' but often these just muddle things up."
The highest level, of warm rapport and closeness, sounds something like what the German professor called heaven:
"At this level, there's a certain feeling of understanding and benefit of the doubt in the mentality of all parties, so all are capable of getting a lot out of each interaction. People don't struggle because when they see their mind is filled with a lot of ambivalence, they wait for their mind to clear so they can operate from a higher state of mind. Then people spend their time enjoying and learning from each other, having a good time, kidding, pipe dreaming and laughing, because they don't have to spend time dealing with the fruits of the lower states.
"The best indicator of how you are doing as a parent is how much enjoyment you're getting from being a parent. Enjoying it means you are close to your kids, and they have self-esteem because they see themselves as enjoyable to be around instead of a hassle. When you are laughing, it's easier to have access to your commonsense. That's why a lot of people who are excellent parents will say it's really easy.
This commonsense/wisdom is available in everyone, and when accessed, it's one of the most powerful forces in the human experience."
--"The Commonsense Parenting Series," George S. Pransky, MFCC, Ph.D., PO Box 498, La Conner, WA 98257, 206 466-5200.
Learning to be close to others and to our own truest self requires humility and courage. It requires going beyond an adversarial approach--"I'm right/you're wrong"--and recognizing that all of us are innately precious people. Several items in this issue explore these topics. I hope they help you experience commonsense and delight in all your relationships.
The (Not So) Wise Men
Contributed by Esther Batino
This thought-provoking poem may challenge us to think more deeply about the reality of Jesus' life, about what God actually wanted to happen then, and about learning a "wiser" way to encounter the Christ in our lives now. --VC
Was it but two thousand years ago
That a tiny star with a warm, bright glow
Cast its soft and wondrous
To guide three wise men by day, by night
To a place that was "oh so far"
Yes, all depended on that little bright star.
The sky was not like that of any night
Three wise men held captive by a little bright light
Mile per mile, step by step
Onward and onwards they went
Never a moment to rest or set up a tent.
A vision they had, a vision they'd seen
A mission from God, an incredible dream
Far in a far off land
Which to soon they would come
Was going to be born, the most Glorious of Sons.
A king, a champion, a leader of men
Oh yes, these three wise kings
From the East
Were most certainly invited to God's banquet and feast.
So mile upon mile, and step by step
Onwards and forwards with never a rest
Went these kings with a vision, a mission, a quest.
The time it passed as time is ought
Until the desert sea became a port
Of a city that was filled with many a man
The city of King Herod, called Jerusalem
And here they stayed and took their fill
Of hospitality from that king and city on a hill.
Their spirits warm, their tongues were loose
To King Herod they told the good news,
"Rejoice, rejoice, may your heart feel glad
We bring you good news, the best you've ever had
For soon to be born, now hear us sing
A savior, a saint, most worthy to be king."
Yes, these three men I told you are wise
Their tongues spoke truth with no disguise
And no, not even the tiniest of tiny white lies.
That little bright star with its wondrous bright light
If you looked very carefully and with all of your might
Seemed to quiver and flicker and sputter a bit,
And then another just as quickly and quick
Resumed its constant and unchanging job
Of guiding these wise men to meet the Son of God.
And onwards and forwards and step by step
Closer and closer they were to get
To their vision, their mission, their wondrous job
Of meeting and greeting the Son of God.
And finally with a most joyous cry
These three wise men did utter a sigh
"Here's the place, the hallowed ground of all men
Little bright star you shine more gloriously over Bethlehem."
"But where is the palace, the castle of the king?
Our savior, our master of everything?"
And twinkle and twinkle with all her might
Until finally no doubt she gave off her brightest light
And with all that she could and was truly able
The little bright star shone brightly over a stable.
The wise men, abashed and a little abent
Went into the humblest of places tired and spent
And there they saw in an old wooden manger
Not a prince, not a king, but to them "a stranger"
"Oh littlest one," (perhaps that's what they said)
"Art thou for what we have come?
Or have we misread, perhaps another place we should be instead?"
And so these wise men
To make their load light
(and darn it just darn it, maybe another star
Out there was bright)
Left frankincense and myrrh and gifts
For a king, yet left nothing, no nothing that
Wisdom could bring.
And the little bright star
Like a tear in the sky
Was heard, if you listened with all of your might,
To let out oh the smallest of small, little sighs
And then like the blinking of a twinkling of an eye
The little bright star fell down from the sky
--Peggy B. Weller
HW subscriber Tim Folzenlogan makes an interesting observation:
"Can you think of a single realm of human activity in which the participants do not strive to improve? Even if it's destructive, the human involved is looking to do it better. 'How to be a better couch potato: fluff that pillow, prop up that leg, move the peanuts a little closer.' But actually, for most people, I can think of one activity: a relationship with God. For many, their relationship with God just is what it is. Kind of on hold. It's there, but too ethereal to mold, shape or improve upon. Don't even want to talk about it. . . . What if we all sought God as earnestly as we do that dream home or promotion at work . . . ."
Tim also notes that as we become a global society, belief systems that may have had a good purpose once now should no longer obscure our essential connectedness:
"'As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end'--one God and we all just brothers and sisters in the same family."
Here, as in previous issues, are words that the contributor feels are from God. Whoever you feel their source is, I hope you are benefited by these excerpts. (Note: I think that what is referred to here as "original mind" is very related to what Dr. Pransky calls our innate commonsense/wisdom.) --VC
My children, let's begin anew. As I said before, little things can sometimes get in the way of our relationship together, and day by day goes by and we don't talk. And for you it seems not so important, for you think, "Well, tomorrow there will be time," but each day financial, familial, personal problems come up and after awhile I seem very distant to you.
Don't your own children come to you regularly and renew that sense of love they have? Is one kiss a year enough? No. The nature of a love relationship is to renew itself constantly to affirm its strength through everything that happens.
How much more important for yourself and Me to reaffirm our relationship day by day, especially when we have opened our hearts together. If you don't come to reaffirm, it's very heartbreaking. Getting into small and surface kinds of thinking lets you forget Me. That's what mediocrity is all about. And that's what this world is so much taken with today.
Mediocrity, especially in a nation like yours . . . In poor nations many times you find people of incredible faith who have gone to the bottom of human suffering and have found Me there. Of course, I don't long for My children to suffer, but often it's at that extension of themselves that they can find Me. As people become more prosperous, their problems become far more petty and selfish. That's when you get away from Me.
Do you have perhaps a mistaken idea about the meaning of humility? Do you believe that humility is some sort of self-degradation, a person who can't look Me in the eye? I tell you, My sons and daughters who were truly humble down through history were those who could look Me in the eye, because My eye looks right back to you and shows you who you are. And humility is the heartfelt longing to know truly who you are. It is not degrading who you are; that is a perverse form of arrogance that comes out of the Fall and prefers darkness rather than light.
And humility takes courage--to go beyond the patterns you've established in your life, going round and round like a broken record, and allow yourself to take a new step in your relationship with Me. Do you expect that relationship with Me?
[Tearfully] I expect and long so much for a growing relationship with you every day. It's like the story of Pinocchio. A woodcutter wanted more than anything a son who could respond to him. But he could only carve from wood a boy who couldn't truly respond to him. Then by the miracle of love, that little wooden boy turned into a flesh and blood child and brought the father such great happiness. This is really the story of the fallen world. So many Pinocchios who don't know how and can't respond to Me.
But I tell you [still crying] that you are living in an age when that response is called upon by My very direct approach to you, if you can only open your heart and expect that to be. Don't form ideas about what you think you can expect or what I will or will not do. Throw the door open and let the light come in. You don't have to create the light.
Those whom you truly respect in history are always the individuals who stood on their own two feet, who are often martyred, laughed at or mocked because they did not fit in with the crowd. [Tearfully] And yet they seem to have had this unearthly courage to stand and to say what they needed to say as they were guided by their hearts--and so often by Me. This is the quality that I look for in each and every child.
The strength to open yourself to new things, even when your old ideas or your old framework is threatened, is courage and is the substance of true humility also. Courage and humility go together. When you look at the courage of Jesus, you realize it was not based on some self- concept about how great he was, but on a genuine humility to Me. And with that he had no hesitation to bravely walk inside and outside himself into new territory. This is what makes a real son, a true son. It is not just a bloodline; it is also an attitude of the original mind that's coming forth. People all over the world are challenged now to exercise this courage.
I'm very sad to see those children of Mine who become caught by just holding on to one idea--even when that idea is true and good--and then are unable to open to any next step. You know we continue to open new doors, don't we, and you realize that I am not stuck by any one doctrine or particular idea.
You don't have to worry about abandoning truth. That's something like saying abandoning air. When you live in accord with your original mind, then you will freely interact with the truth. There is no way that you can deny it. The one thing you can deny is that state of no moving, no growing, of closed-mindedness. That's good to leave behind you.
There is a hunger throughout the world for a very real relationship with Me because, especially in the more advanced nations, there is a great poverty of spirituality and a great need for a renewal of the individual heart. This is what I am concerning Myself with at this time. That renewal, with very few exceptions, will not, truly, come from any of the existing church structures. It has to be a renewal that is given birth in My relationship with each and every person and will come in some of the most unexpected ways, as it has done with you.
That very sense that many have that they are not valuable to God, or that they don't have a connection with God, or that their prayers to God are abstract, or that there is no fullness in those prayers indicates that that sacred place in your own heart that wants to connect with MY HEART, as parent and child, has not been opened up by you. What seems to be a rather humble approach of "Well, I have to do many more things before I can enter that place with God" can actually become a situation of ignorant arrogance and hurt oneself and others too. So the feeling of humility before Me, the hesitation to enter in, is natural because you're coming out of a world that does have a lot of dirt and impurity, and you all have it within you. But don't hesitate. Please come in now and we will work together!
Why do you think the world is the way that it is? It's not because everyone is just an evil, evil person. It's because people are stuck in their patterns, and that is what allows evil to take root! Mediocrity is the growing soil of evil! And evil will grow out of mediocrity as surely as the sun comes up in the east every morning.
It is only when you, as an individual, will stand up and take responsibility for your relationship with Me that you will begin to look deep within and find that genius I put in that only YOU have, to be brought out only in relationship with Me!
Yes, it is possible for absolute mediocrity to encrust itself around the very Son of God, and that is what I, ultimately, cannot stand for. And to whatever heart I can break through and speak to [crying], I want to find a person who has the humility to look Me in the eye and the courage to take a step that mediocre thinkers wouldn't think of taking. And that will be the step toward reformation of who you really are, because you didn't know, before, who you really are. And you'll begin to see yourself through My eye.
So many people are living in fear of their lives being judged by Me or by Christ or by their spiritual leaders. They live in fear and insecurity and act out of this. That is what makes for mediocrity. Mediocrity is not a comfortable place, finally. It is a false place of false security. But at the very pit, below mediocrity, way down deep there is a raging, nagging fear that one must live with.
But I tell you, I want you to step into a world where there is no fear; there is absolutely no need for self-defense or insecurity. It comes down to how willing you are to share with Me and to allow yourself to sit on the judgment seat of your own life. And I don't just mean in terms of what's right and what's wrong, throwing this bad thing out and embracing that good thing. It's not a mental exercise. It's an exercise of the deepest heart, and it's there that you find Me. And when you find that relationship with Me in your heart of hearts, this judgment, as I said, becomes a very natural thing that you'll find great joy in. It is a process of a deeper and deeper embrace between parent and child, between you and I. [Very tearful] It's a time of rejoicing, or celebration: "the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord." Then you'll be able to see the mediocrity for what it is and know it will never bring anything good on this earth. I long for this relationship with you. I'm not so free to be casual when I look at the reality of My world . . . people abusing themselves and one another so badly. For every headline you read about the pain, I know of ten million realities that will never get into the newspaper . . . of My children being so badly hurt and tortured. You don't begin to know how painful it is in My heart.
And yet I know that the victory can come through each of your lives, one by one by one. You might say it's too slow. Wait a moment! I have a connection with every living soul on this earth! I can reach each heart as each heart will find Me. And that way the light will begin to come in many lives in the same moment.
Please heed what I say because it means everything to Me. These are not tears of sadness; they are tears of reunion. Maybe you didn't expect to reunite with Me, but that's really what it's all about. I love you.
Contributed by Christine Jacobson
Christine is a student at Washington University, St. Louis, MO. Her husband Lee will graduate in April '95 from the Logan College of Chiropractic. They are planning to practice in Washington state, as a marriage and family therapist and chiropractor, respectively. --VC
At the beginning of the year, the last item on my list of "New Year's Resolutions for 1994" was: "Write something for HeartWing," because I value this soul-connecting publication very much.
It is now October, three-quarters of the year has flown by, and I finally feel ready to write a few lines, with the readers of HeartWing in mind. . . . First I frantically brainstormed a few possible topics which would convey a "slice of my life" . . . . and came up with proverbial titles like: "If you can imagine it, you can achieve it." "If you can dream it, you can become it." Then this little voice murmured: "Relax . . . this is NOT a research paper! This is just a chance to let your heart speak! So, I took a deep breath . . . sat more comfortably in front of my computer, and . . . here I am.
You see, after going back to school full-time and full speed for almost four years, the tendency is to primarily have give-and-take with your left brain! In fact this is what has happened to me. I first set the goal of getting a bachelor's degree in two years instead of four, and now am working on a master's degree in social work (it takes 50 semester hours of academic work and 1000 hours of internship). Also, because my school is rated the second best school of social work in the country (I often wondered why), there is great pressure to excel. To add some extra pressure, I am confronted every day with students 15 years younger than I am, prompting me to be done with graduate school as soon as I can. Like many other baby boomers, I first needed to experience Life before wanting to learn its theories.
Well, I know now that I am NOT Superwoman, because after such a race for the accumulation of knowledge, I am "burned out." However, for the first time since going back to school, I am finally comfortable with an occasional "B".
I painfully realized that you can only go so long neglecting areas of your life, and that there comes a time when balance needs to be reestablished. In my case, I took time: for my studies and my son (always), for my internships (always), for my husband (most of the time), for enriching my spiritual life with group meditations and books of interest (continually), for friends (often), for house chores and cooking (sometimes), and for quiet times to talk and listen to God while still AWAKE (rarely).
The rating of this last statement has recently changed from rarely to daily: a few weeks ago, I felt such a burning desire to sit down alone, light a candle, and sit quietly while my son was napping. Usually I use that time to either study, catch up with laundry, or do whatever demands our lives of "double full-time student/parents" brings. However, this time I had NO choice: I felt such a need to meditate and pray. Since then I have been looking forward to three o'clock in the afternoon . . . like I never have before. I feel that God, our loving parent, has also yearned for me, as parents do for their children when away from them; I would even say that He has missed this special time with me and longed to see me coming back to Him. Because of exams, I had to skip my date with our Creator two days in a row, and I felt something was badly missing: I did not experience the feeling of wholeness which the days before had brought. Now I truly know what this dear friend of mine in St. Louis, a Nichiren Buddhist, told me when I met her three years ago: "Balance is the key!"
Learning True Love
Contributed by Manuele Mayer
I borrowed from Manuele the book Learning True Love, by Sister Chan Khong. The author is a Buddhist nun, of whom Manuele says,
"She is very powerful, energetic, selfless, and intensely focused on her work. She recently opened up to the beauty of Christianity when she had a kind of enlightenment experience while in a Catholic church in Rome."
I wanted to share my experience of the book with you, beginning with a memory:
It was like a scene in a movie. I was in a London restaurant with my Japanese friend, Dr. Bong Ho Lee. It was December 1968, around the height of the Vietnam War. Bong Ho and I were both studying in different London universities that year. He had spent the previous year doing postgraduate work at Harvard, with a focus on the Vietnamese War. I was still searching for the "truth" about the war, and felt he might be best able to provide it, since his country wasn't involved and he had just done an academic study of the war. His goal was to be Secretary-General of the United Nations, and I trusted his insight. Calmly he explained the different forces involved, drawing on a napkin to try to clarify his points. I don't remember the details of what he said, but his main point devastated me: it was that basically the war was a tragic mistake and that we should have supported the Vietnamese Buddhists, because they could have helped end the civil war which the U.S. took sides in. At the time I didn't really understand what role the Buddhists could have played; I just felt miserable that, as with most wars, millions of lives were horribly impacted--and it was a mistake.
Now, after entering the world of Sister Chan Khong, as she recounts some of her many experiences trying to bring peace, love, and change to her beloved Vietnam, I more understand the power the Buddhists could have had, if they had been properly supported not only by the U.S., but also by the South Vietnamese government. As Maxine Hong Kingston writes in her foreword, "Sister Chan Khong, Thich Nhat Hanh, and twelve other monks and nuns established and held a position that was neither nationalist nor communist, neither North nor South. They were a means and a hope for enemies to communicate and to end the war. This miraculous, strong pacifism did not die though its practitioners were jailed, tortured, murdered.
"I am amazed and grateful that Sister Chan Khong teaches us how to access strength from the invisible. The Buddhists, trained in non- duality, were able to see that there are not two sides to Vietnam, and thus act wholeheartedly, a vision of the entire country in mind."
Sister Chan Khong provides a beautiful example of rising above mediocrity and of applying spiritual wisdom to politics (see "Toward True Intimacy and Hope," p. 13). --VC
Here are a few scenes from her path toward learning true love:
A grenade thrown into the campus temple where many Buddhist social workers lived killed or seriously wounded 18 people. Her eulogy for them:
"We cannot hate you, you who have thrown grenades and killed our friends, because we know that men are not our enemies. Our only enemies are the misunderstanding, hatred, jealousy, and ignorance that lead to such acts of violence. Please allow us to remove all misunderstanding so we can work together for the happiness of the Vietnamese people. Our only aim is to help remove ignorance and illiteracy from the countryside of Vietnam. Social change must start in our hearts with the will to transform our own egotism, greed, and lust into understanding, love, commitment, and sharing responsibility for the poverty and injustice in our country."
In 1973 she was able to meet with the Swedish Prime Minister, Olaf Palme.
"I invited him to be 'inside the skin' of a young person growing up in our war-torn country: when she looks around, she cannot seek help from the French, the Americans, or the communists--all those governments are perpetrating the violence. The only people she can trust are the Buddhist monks and nuns. I told him that we had started a movement among monks and nuns to help poor people, without taking money from any warring party."
When she was later told that the Swedes' rule was to fund programs only through government agencies, and it would be difficult for their government to support a religious group, she said,
"Rules are invented by humans to serve humans. If you see that a rule prevents you from serving humans, why don't you break it?" They found a way.
When dealing with representatives of the U.S. State Dept. or the peace workers, she often felt completely frustrated.
"Then I remember the Buddha's teaching that knowledge can be an obstacle to understanding. These people were so sure of their knowledge about Vietnam that they were unwilling to open themselves to any other description of reality."
Sadly, after the war ended in 1975, the communists seized all the resources she had solicited for the Vietnamese poor from all over the world, and she heard that if she came back into the country, she would be jailed or killed.
"How desperate I felt! Since the age of eighteen, I had worked to bring relief to the poorest people, and thousands of young friends had become involved in this work. My dreams had been realized--the bombing had stopped, the Unified Buddhist Church was helping poor peasants, and thousands of hands were reaching to remote areas of Vietnam to support hungry and orphaned children--and then, overnight, the fruits of all my efforts vanished completely.
"I had not joy or energy to live. Every time I thought of Vietnam, I wanted to die or to sleep and never wake up. I felt as if my heart were being squeezed by strong, violent hands. For months, all I could do was practice going back to my breath, following each in-breath and out-breath with my mind, because I would sink into deep despair every time I stopped doing that. Returning to Vietnam was still impossible. After decades of war, all the country had to show for it was a dishonest, totalitarian government! I could never fulfill my dream of real social change in my country."
However, she did go to the Vietnamese embassy in Paris to try to persuade the new government to allow their project of sponsoring orphans to continue.
"I had not great hope, but as I entered the room, I did my best to view the Secretary of the Embassy as a future buddha. The Buddha taught that everyone has the capacity to become an awakened, enlightened being, so I thought, 'I have come to try to work with this difficult, future buddha.'"
She did receive permission, but in fact, no money ever reached the orphans.
Still, over the years she has continued her work for her country and also helped to bring an understanding of "mindfulness" and practical ways to build peace for oneself and for the society to many people in the West.
"We never wish to 'convert' anyone to Buddhism. We only wish to offer everyone the light of awareness ("buddh" means aware) to shine onto their own roots so that they understand themselves better and more deeply."
She learned that American
"children here, even though most do not suffer from hunger, suffer greatly from psychological, physical, and sexual abuse inflicted by alcoholic or mentally disturbed parents and other adults. . . . Reports of childhood sexual abuse and even involvement in the 'sex industry' have moved me deeply. After listening to such stories, I have to practice walking meditation for several hours to restore some calm.
"Without having bombs dropped on their heads, these people's hearts are like fields devastated by 'bombs' of cruelty and ignorance. I have learned how to relieve suffering by listening attentively to these friends and discussing with them ways to transform their lives. I now see this kind of suffering can be even greater than the suffering from lack of food."
Though she is officially seen as a war criminal, she concludes,
"I don't feel any anger or hatred towards the rulers of the country. Instead, great pity and sadness arise in me. Their perceptions of millions of Vietnamese are far from reality. Because of erroneous views, they have already killed, tortured, and mistreated millions of people. When will I have a chance to share with them the arts of listening and looking deeply that I have learned from studying with Thay [Thich Nhat Hanh]? When will all the world's children, and adults, learn to live together in peace?"
Following her ordination as a nun, she was given the name Chan Khong, True Emptiness.
"In Buddhism, the word 'emptiness' is a translation of the Sanskrit sunyata. It means 'empty of a separate self.' It is not a negative or despairing term. It is a celebration of interconnectedness, of interbeing. It means nothing can exist by itself alone, that everything is inextricably interconnected with everything else. I know that I must always work to remember that I am empty of a separate self and full of the many wonders of this universe, including the generosity of my grandparents and parents, the many friends and teachers who have helped and supported me along the path, and you dear readers, without whom this book could not exist. We inter-are, and therefore we are empty of an identity that is separate from our interconnectedness."
"Dear readers, I thank you for your patience in reading all of these pages. I am with you just as you have been with me, and we encourage each other to realize our deepest love, caring, and generosity. Together on the path of love, we can try to make a small difference in someone's life. What else is there to do?"
--Learning True Love: How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam, by Chan Khong, (Cao Ngoc Phuong), Parallax Press, P.O. Box 7355, Berkeley, CA 94707, 1993.
Toward True Intimacy And Hope
From the editor
Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson recently came through the Portland/Vancouver area to promote their new book, Spiritual Politics, Changing the World from the Inside Out. I spoke with them and read their book. The following includes insights from both the interview and the book and some of my thoughts.
Years ago in a San Francisco park, I began talking with a man in his late 20's who, like me, was enjoying the lovely spring day. I found out that he had a law degree and was about to also become a doctor. Impressed, I asked what was most important in his life. He thought for a moment, and then replied seriously, "Sex." His response totally surprised me, but I saw it was sincere--and not a come-on. "Why?" I asked. I've never forgotten his answer. He said soberly, "It keeps despair pushed back."
Yes, the temporary "intimacy" of a physical union can "push back despair," at least for that moment. But we hunger for much more--for closeness between husband and wife, parent and child, values and actions, and perhaps ultimately, between our ideals and our reality.
Can we bring these together?
Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson have spent their adult lives seeking ways to change the world and can convincingly answer YES. In their new book, Spiritual Politics, they generously share the wide- ranging insight and perspectives they've gained regarding the application of spiritual wisdom to political action to aid in both individual and planetary transformation. A handsome and distinguished- looking couple, they spent six years writing this book, which reflects much of their own journey.
After burning out as political activists in the 60's, they shifted their efforts to internal change.
Corinne: "To really be an effective change agent, you have to change yourself, and I found I couldn't just keep pointing fingers at government or business, people who were being greedy or power- tripping. I had to clean up my own act."
They first met at the Findhorn community in Scotland, and their experience there taught them the importance of connecting with one's own inner divinity and showed them that international people can live together cooperatively. In 1978 they felt guided to form their own ecological spiritual community in Massachusetts, called Sirius, where they still live, though they also spend time working and teaching in Washington, DC.
Why did they write the book?
Gordon: "Political activists and spiritual growth seekers both need the other. Those concerned with personal growth are kidding themselves about going farther if they don't offer some kind of service in the world, and political activists can benefit greatly by learning the deeper causes behind events. We outline many different groups and activities that don't get reported in the media but which are finding new ways to operate. We think the core of the problem is that we are locked into an adversarial win-lose process in our political life. . . . There's no real listening going on, so it's a politics of confrontation, or trying to destroy your opponent rather than working out creative solutions."
The Ageless Wisdom they bring to the political process refers to the fundamental inner truths connecting all the major world religions, like the interconnected-ness of all life, compassion, karma, and seeing events as offering a lesson to be learned. They practice what they teach. Right before their national book tour, an arsonist burned down their home.
Corinne: "You get a major lesson about the impermanence of the physical world when everything goes up in smoke in 15 minutes. We've gone through every emotion--mourning, anger, fear--to learning to let go and trusting we'll receive what we need."
Their book is rich with insight and practical example. Here are a few glimpses:
Gordon, on current cosmic changes:
"At this time there's a shift in astrological energy from Pisces Sixth Ray to Aquarius, the Seventh Ray energy, which helps create new forms for civilization. One way it shows itself is in people experiencing their own inner divinity."
Corinne, on forces of darkness:
"The forces of evil try to keep us from embodying more light, love, and unity. They push us toward materialism and the divide-and-conquer mentality and move people to feel anger, resentment, or jealousy to cause distance and separation between them. Native American warriors say it is not the enemy that destroyed them, but their own inner weakness. Our own weakness gets magnified by these forces as we move out to do more major work." Gordon: "The principle of free will is sacred, so you can identify as evil any forces that try to interfere with people's freedom, to manipulate or oppress them, whether the pressure comes from a government or from a religion. Most people get affected by a generalized stupor, the hypnosis of materialism or television consciousness which encourages you to buy and consume and procreate madly. Once you become more conscious, you choose to act for the highest good of the whole and recognize opposing forces more clearly."
Gordon, on the impact of thoughts and feelings:
"Our collective thinking affects both other people and the natural world. For example, when the United States was trying to get the Filipino people to keep Clark Air Force Base, the Mount Pinatubo volcano, perhaps affected by the smouldering resentment of the Filipinos, erupted and completely destroyed the base."
Corinne, on the souls and personalities of nations:
"Nations, like individuals, can also be self-centered. According to research on how nations voted at the United Nations--for self-interest or for the good of all--the United States didn't score well. As more nations align their personality with their soul and true spiritual destiny, a compassionate and just new world order will emerge.
From the book:
"Those individuals who change crisis into opportunities for transformation and achievement are the hope for the world. Hope acts like a spiritual magnet which draws inspiration from high sources. Hope is not an emotional attitude, but a clear intuitive knowing that recognizes good can triumph when charged with courage and unshakable determination."
"There are three distinct groups in each nation: most widespread is the conservative element that resists change but provides stability; second are the creative innovators and problem solvers who are inclusive in their consciousness; the third includes people who feel lost and bewildered, many who destroy themselves through drugs or other addictions or who are hopeless and despairing, including the vast masses of poor around the world."
"It behooves us all to work together to create a climate of consciousness in which violence and horror in films and television become repulsive to most people because of the refinement of their heart qualities."
Corinne, on what each person can do:
"We encourage people to adopt a leader, write letters, and send them a lot of love and light in prayer and meditation to help them align themselves with their higher self and the good of all. We also include 15 things to do to aid planetary evolution."
They outline groups working behind the scenes, some laying the groundwork for the incredible developments in South Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland.
They also include several meditations for helping on the national and world levels, and ten "Principles for Public Life --'May the Best Person Serve'" that could be a code of conduct for public officials.
What do we do with all this?
One thing is certain: As they write, "If we begin where we are to improve the lives of those around us, we can help create 'heaven on Earth.' . . . It is up to each of us to develop right relationships with others if we are to truly heal our world."
A primary vehicle for both spiritual growth and world healing can be our own family and its "politics". Creating close, joyful "right relationships" within this unit demands the best of ourselves and trains us to relate well to the global family of man. Much of the call for "family values" may come not so much from a nostalgia for some past experience--real or imagined--but may indeed originate from the inner voice of our Soul urging us to finally realize the innate blueprint in our hearts.
We disregard this voice at a price. Stress and anxiety have many causes, but perhaps fundamental is the tension between what is and what could be in ourselves. True intimacy on every level becomes more possible when we are intimate with our highest self and bring that to others. Hope shines as we understand this journey is everyone's destiny--joy to the world.
Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out (Ballantine Books, New York, 1994) would make a great gift for those who wish their lives to be a gift to the world.
I also wanted to share an experience I had when I decided to pray for our nation's leaders. I started with President Clinton, and then prayed that he, Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole could somehow unite closely together, centered on a sincere faith in God, and thus come up with some wonderful new direction for our country. As soon as I had the thought to pray for their unity, I felt such an internal surge of tears and emotion, as if Someone really wanted to encourage and thank me for praying that way. --VC
Shared hopes vs. Hidden agendas
Contributed by Don Maruska
895 Napa Avenue, Suite A-5
Morro Bay, CA 93442
[In the printed HeartWing, with permission I publish the full address of the contributor so that others can contact him/her if desired. I've eliminated most of the addresses in the e-mail version, but am leaving this one in case you want to contact Don about his book. --VC]
How do you tell if someone or some organization is good at making decisions? Ideally, the decisions result in the hoped for benefit for all involved, a "happy ending." How is humankind doing? The unfulfilled hopes of so many people for a safe, abundant, and happy life, both throughout history and today, indicate we still have a lot to learn.
Decision-making is often not a fun or win-win process. However, Don Maruska and Art Stevens offer a way to make group decisions that is both "fruitful and fun." I spoke with Don about his method, and was impressed by its depth, comprehensiveness, and applicability to all kinds of situations. I also like that this process can help us identify what our real hopes are, feel safe to share them, and be open to receive that vulnerable part of another. I think it aids in accessing the common-sense Dr. Pransky describes [see "Learning to be Close," p. 3] as well.
Don has an MBA and JD and has been CEO of three Silicon Valley companies and an advisor to legislators and multinational corporations. Art has a Ph.D. in political science and now is also an Episcopal priest and counselor.
The following is excerpted from some remarks Don made to the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.
Don writes, "I'd welcome reactions from you and your readers." --VC
How we reach decisions is the most important factor in group performance. How we decide, much more than any individual decision, tells 1) who we are, 2) the quality of our relationships, and 3) our potential for continued growth and development together.
Unfortunately, typical decision processes undermine effective action and reflect a widespread addiction to conflict and control. Underlying most decision processes are fears and expectations which create a feeling of scarcity that drives us into win-lose confrontations with one another.
An alternative approach that we have found to be dramatically effective is based upon shared hopes rather than fears. Whereas fears feed our anxious egos, shared hopes draw us beyond ourselves and empower us to be our best and most creative selves with a cooperative spirit.
Shared hopes express why we are together. A business might hope to create products to fulfill specific needs; a family business may also want to build a company to share with the next generation.
To engage our hopes and realize fruitful results, we need a decision process that translates shared hopes into action. The method we have found effective is built around the following key principles:
1) fully involve everyone who has a stake in the decision
2) concretely connect with your shared hopes
3) really hear one another's feelings to get at the true issue vs. the presenting issue
4) engage each person in stating negatives and positives about each option, without too much or too little ownership of any one option, and
5) call upon each participant to choose the best option to fulfill the shared hopes.
Applying these principles in easy to follow steps, groups achieve impressive results: 1) newly formed teams gain focus and momentum, 2) organizations with long-standing conflicts find common ground, and 3) bickering families rediscover the joy of being together.
In comparison with other approaches, this decision process is 1) frequently faster, 2) more open to new solutions, 3) better at building a quality decision, 4) more effective in gaining successful implementation, and 5) more flexible to respond to changes. For businesses, these benefits can translate into improved performance and a better bottom line.
What is especially appealing to me is how I can use the same basic method in my work, with my wife and daughter, and in my community activities. As a result, I feel a deep sense of integration in my life with each area supporting the others. And, since it is relatively easy and fun to use the process, I feel encouraged to apply it in all of my decisions, large and small. I have learned that I can let go of my own desire to control, and I can trust this process to guide us to more fulfilling results than I would have imagined.
(If you are interested in their new book, Inviting Healthy Decisions: A Guide for Work, Home and Community, please contact Don at the above address. --VC)
Contributed by Judith Parry
These touching vignettes are taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul, (written and compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL). Please get a tissue now! - -VC
A Brother Like That
A friend of mine named Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it. "Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.
Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas." The boy was astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn't cost you nothing? Boy, I wish..." he hesitated.
Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.
"I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."
Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, "Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?"
"Oh, yes, I'd love that."
After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow, said, "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"
Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again. "Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked.
He ran up the steps. Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car.
"There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. And some day I'm gonna give you one just like it. Then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about."
Paul got out and lifted the lad to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three began a memorable holiday ride.
That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when he had said; "It is more blessed to give . . ." --Dan Clark
A little girl named Liza was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save Liza."
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in a bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?"
Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all his blood.
Judith asks people to pray for Tacco Hose. Tacco's spinal cord was injured three years ago when her son shot her, thinking she was a deer in their orchard. Since then she has been unable to walk and in constant pain. Though she and her husband have come to a totally fresh and deeply intimate relationship with God through their ordeal, still perhaps our prayers can help to ease the pain. --VC
On December 9th, Jennifer and David Hager ["Christopher," Spr/Sum '94 HW] had a healthy, 8 1/2 lb. girl named Laura.
I have a very busy life with mounds of reading, but I am so thankful I took the time to read HeartWing. It is absolutely wonderful. Thanks to the many readers and their contributions, it offers much insight and spiritual reinforcement. I definitely want to share this with loved ones. --Sabrina Charlins, North Highlands, CA.
Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents