Belonging / Wholeness
September 2016 Graduate Meeting

Videos for this meeting:
Gateways to Remembrance by Tara Brach [20 min]
Sanctuary (6 min excerpt) by Jack Kornfield [6 min]

In Gateways to Remembrance, Tara Brach suggests that what is often the most important thing near life's end, feeling connected to others, is also the most important thing during the whole of our lives, but that we sometimes forget that. She says that "the treasure we seek is closer than we imagined", and that "it's in the field of relationship that the magic happens". In Sanctuary, Jack Kornfield tells a wonderful story of the spontaneous and surprising emergence of cross-species community initiated by a chimpanzee.

    ... circles of trust ... are a rare form of community - one that supports rather than supplants the individual quest for integrity. That is rooted in two basic beliefs:
    First, we all have an inner teacher whose guidance is more reliable than anything we can get from a doctrine, ideology, collective belief system, institution, or leader.
    Second, we all need other people to invite, amplify, and help us discern the inner teacher's voice for at least three reasons:
    The journey toward inner truth is too taxing to be made solo: lacking support, the solitary traveler soon becomes weary or fearful and is likely to quit the road.
    The path is too deeply hidden to be traveled without company: finding our way involves clues that are subtle and sometimes misleading, requiring the kind of discernment that can happen only in dialogue.
    The destination is too daunting to be achieved alone: we need community to find the courage to venture into the alien lands to which the inner teacher may call us.
           - from A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer

    Anyone who has been part of an inspired demonstration, such as a protest against nuclear weapons or a candlelight walk for women's rights, knows the exhilaration of being part of something larger than oneself, united with others for a cause. Even baking whole wheat rolls in a shelter kitchen or organizing an office to recycle its computer paper, people have experienced the satisfaction that comes from being part of community working for change. This basic sharing of space and purpose can remind us of the simple truth that we are all members of the world community, here to help one another on our common journey home.
    Working in groups has the advantage of fulfilling our yearning for community. Many of us in the white mainstream of this country come from dysfunctional, nonnurturing, unloving families. Our rituals and traditions are largely gone, and our sense of belonging has weakened; the emphasis in our culture on competition and individual achievement has eroded our sense of community and solidarity. No longer tribal, we still need support, loving care, and interaction with a variety of other human beings; as is better known among other subcultures, it is rare for a single relationship or the nuclear family to satisfy all human needs.
           - from Compassion in Action by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush

    Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.
           - from Dreaming the Dark by Starhawk

    Nothing is inconsequential. Each grain of sand holds amazing secrets. Each event contains mysterious messages. Every encounter with another being is a point of contact upon which the universe pivots. When we enter into this frame of mind, reality as we see it becomes a vast opportunity to experience the interconnectedness of all creation. From this perspective, we come to the realization that every piece is integral in the unfolding of creation, including us.
           - from Free Will and the Mind of God by David Cooper

    When we are free of mental concepts and our senses are awake, the sounds, smells, images, and vibrations we experience connect us with all life everywhere. It is not my pain, it is the earth’s pain. It is not my aliveness but simply life – unfolding and intense, mysterious and beautiful. By meeting the changing dance of sensation with Radical Acceptance, we discover our intrinsic belonging to this world. We are “no thing” – not limited to any passing experience – and "everything”, belonging to the whole.
           - from Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

    Wholeness experienced first hand cannot be tyrannical, for it is infinite in its diversity and finds itself mirrored and embedded in each particular, like the Hindu goddess Indra's net, a symbol of the universe, which has jewels at all the vertices, each one capturing the reflections of the entire net and so containing the whole. Some would have us worship, uniformly, at the altar of oneness, using the idea of unity rather than an ongoing encounter with it to steamroller-like, flatten out all differences. But it is in the unique qualities of this and that, their particular individuality and properties - in their eachness and their suchness, if you will - that all poetry and art, science and life, wonder, grace, and richness reside.
    All faces resemble each other, yet how easily we see in each uniqueness, individuality, an identity. How deeply we value these differences. The ocean is a whole, but it has countless waves, everyone different from all the others; it has currents, each unique, ever-changing; the bottom is a landscape all its own, different everywhere; similarly the shoreline. The atmosphere is whole, but its currents have unique signatures, even though they are just wind. Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.
           - from Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn