Tag Archives: mindfulness

be the change: violent criminals

marshall rosenberg, the man known for his work in nonviolent communication, appears in the section off the cushion and into life in be the change: how meditation can transform you and the world). he works a lot in prisons.

the people there have done some stuff that i really do not like, like sexually molesting children. so i usually ask each one of them what need of theirs was being met when they did that. and i usually get back, “huh?” because nobody has ever asked them that question before. so i will say, “i’d like to know what need you were trying to meet when you were doing that.” then they’ll usually answer something like, “i do it because i’m a pervert.” and i say, “now you are telling me what you think you are. i am asking what needs of yours are getting met?” and they say, “what the hell are you talking about?” and i say, “i believe you are doing this for the same reason that i do everything. i think you are doing it because it is the best way you know of meeting some need you have. that is what i do every moment – the best i know to meet my needs. and i am confident that if we can get clear about what needs of yours are being met by doing that, i bet we can find other ways of getting those needs met that don’t create so much pain for you and others.

mindfulness is about attending to what’s right in front of us. right in front of marshall rosenberg is a person. it is a person with a past, who has done violence to a child, and a future, who may do it again, or become a priest, or die the next day. but right in front of marshall there is a person, and about persons marshall knows that they have needs. there is something starkly sober and yet infinitely loving about cutting to the chase like that.

“if meditation and mindfulness make me forget the horrible crimes people like that have committed – no thanks.”

“if meditation and mindfulness help me to be loving even in such a tough situation, i want it!”

i can understand both reactions. which one is yours?

be the change: leave a trail of beauty behind

in november, i told you about a book i was reading, be the change: how meditation can transform you and the world by ed and deb shapiro.  in the next few days, i’d like to present you with a few more excerpts from it.  the last part of the book, entitled “transforming us transforms the world” is one that i was immediately drawn to; after all, that’s what my work is all about.  as i said in a post a few years ago:

making lives better, making better lives – that’s the motto of my practice. making lives better: that means not just limping along through our days but actually taking our lives into our own hands and making something really good out of it. enhancing our lives wherever it’s possible.

making better lives means that once we’ve enhanced our lives, often we naturally want to pass this on. our cup runneth over, and now we want help make other lives better, in whatever small and big, silly and serious ways.

so let me present you with the words of some people who have similar thoughts.  here is judith ansara, who is quoted in the book as saying:

my meditation practice has evolved over the years so that it is not separate from another part of my life.  it is not separate from my reaching out to touch another, from getting my guests some tea, from working with a client, from being kind to someone in a grocery line.  it is the fabric of my life rather than something i do.  it is the awareness of breath, of sensation, and the intention to leave a trail of beauty behind me.  when i go to the grocery store, how can i leave a trail of beauty behind me?  when i am working with a client, how can i do that?  it is taking meditation off the cushop so that everywhere we go we leave a trail of beauty.

heroes of healing: thich nhat hanh

this is my contribution to jennifer mannion’s heroes of healing project. it’s a project where bloggers write about people who put helping others ahead of whatever might come in the way. the people on this list have gone against the norm and had to put mainstream thinking aside to get their message across. they have all faced criticism, some of them persecution but it did not stop them from pursuing their important work because they knew they were helping many in the process.

my contribution is about thich nhat hanh.

zen monk thich nhat hanh

thich nhat hanh, a zen master and human rights activist, was born in vietnam in 1926. he became a monk at 16. in the throes of the vietnam war, he chose to combine contemplation and activism, thus helping in founding the movement of “engaged buddhism”. among other things, and despite opposition on the part of the vietnamese government, thich nhat hanh founded a buddhist university, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in vietnam. after visiting the U.S. and europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to vietnam. he may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded martin luther king, jr. to oppose the vietnam war publicly. later, thich nhat hanh led the buddhist delegation to the paris peace talks.

in 1982 he founded plum village, a buddhist community in exile in france, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in vietnam and throughout the third world. in september 2001, shortly after the world trade center attacks, thich nhat hanh addressed the issues of non-violence and forgiveness in a memorable speech.

thich nhat hanh has published over 80 titles of poems, prose, and prayers. one of my favourites is the miracle of mindfulness.

through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future. dwelling in the present moment is the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

this is the central teaching of thich nhat hanh.

a video
this is part of a series of interviews with ram dass:what have i learned from thich nhat hanh?
i have learned so much from him. “the miracle of mindfulness” was the first buddhist book i ever bought. one of the things he talks about there is bringing mindfulness to washing the dishes. the image of lovingly washing a cup, with full attention, being aware of all that happens, has been one of my mental metaphors for zen buddhism ever since.

breathing in, the sensation of the cup’s shape and texture. breathing out, the light glinting off the running water. breathing in, the sounds of the dishes clinking against the sink. breathing out, the warmth of the water, juxtaposed against the air that feels cold on the exposed wet skin. breathing in, the smell of the dish soap. breathing out, compassion for my straying thoughts.

resources

image by pixiduc

(this post appeared in the amazing visions blog carnival)