An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
As I alluded to in the entry, The Mindfulness Revolution, any good revolution needs a manifesto. So here it is, part one of ten. There is a book out called the Mindfulness Manifesto and I confess that I haven’t read it. Here is my version. To adumbrate, here are the ten chapters that comprise it:
- Start Right Here, Right Now
- Put Yourself in Context
- Put That Big Brain to Good Use
- Get Beyond Yourself
- Be Good
- Embrace Change
- Practice Happiness
- Attune, Resonate, Integrate
- Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid
- Be Self-Reliant
2. Put Yourself in Context
The universe has been around for a while; the Earth too. Billions of years. Time before time.
The earth is 4.5 billion years old. The universe is 15 billion years old. Modern humans have been around for approximately 100,000 years. We are one of the 20 humanoid species to survive. If you do the math, humans have occupied only fraction of a sliver of time on this planet.
Despite our insignificant place within the cosmos we take ourselves so seriously.
The universe and Earth will carry on without us, even if we manage to do some catastrophic damage to it. If we don’t wake up in some collective fashion, and soon, we’ll probably ruin the party for everyone and everything else.
In the movie, Contact, the main character Eleanor Arroway considers the one question she would ask an alien intelligence, should she have the opportunity to meet them. She replies, “How did you do it? How did you survive your technological adolescence without destroying yourselves?”
For our individual selves, the same contexts apply. We have the context of our entire life and this moment is just a sliver of a fraction of that. Do we need to take it so seriously?
Can we do this? We’ll see. Perhaps if we don’t take ourselves so seriously and considered the broader context and weren’t so fixated on being right (instead of just being), then we’d have a better chance.
Each moment that goes by when the stars are just faint images in the background or a quaint romantic notion we are asleep to the bigger context that holds us. Each moment that we turn away from the sky we become disconnected from the arc of the cosmos. When our vision extends to the tip of our nose, we die to the trivial, lost in our stories of me and mine.
Consider this context: Some how over billions of years life evolved on this planet and to our knowledge as of yet, nowhere else. Consider further that our particular configuration of biology can consider itself, contemplate its own existence, study itself and other things, understand it to some degree through science. This set of facts should just blow our minds everyday, yet how often to we consider this precious and fragile set of circumstances?
Of course, we don’t want to spend all our time being in awe of the larger context, we have things we need to get done. What I’m suggesting, inviting, even demanding is that you spend at least some time every day recognizing what it means to be a human being.
Our brains like to take things out of context and make a big deal out of something. When we take a perception, judgment, even fact out of context it can lead to distorted interpretations.
Recognize where you are in space and time; place yourself in your body and notice how this body is in constant exchange: air, water, food with the world around it. And, of course, there is social exchange too.
Awe should arise from this contemplation. Gratitude should arise too. See if you can bring a trace of awe and gratitude into your next meeting, into your next conversation. Perhaps this awe and gratitude can squeeze out the rumination on whatever story you are currently preoccupied with.
The vastness of the Earth and the universe can be appreciated by a mind that can become vast when it relinquishes the banal (“Does she like me, Am I getting enough?, Will things go my way, Will I have to be uncomfortable (God forbid I have to be uncomfortable, that should not happen to ME, and I must avoid it at all costs) … “)
We are all just fleeting specs of dust in time. Don’t take yourself so seriously!
Waking Up is a Revolutionary Act: A Manifesto for Mindful Living was inspired by Experience Life magazine, Editor-in-Chief, Pilar Gerasimo’s, articleBeing Healthy is a Revolutionary Act: Renegade Perspectives for Thriving in a Mixed Up World, and its accompanying A Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed Up World. Visit http://RevolutionaryAct.com, the website devoted to Being Healthy is a Revolutionary Act: A Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed-Up World and download your own copy of the manifesto and join the movement! Read more about Experience Life here.