Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Sermon [Your Personal Song]

Hola mi Gente,
So-called progressives demand that we vote for the “lesser of two evils” as if were our sacred duty, because, you know… Trump (forgetting that the scariest candidate is Rafael “Ted” Cruz). I would submit, if I could borrow a phrase I heard investigative reporter, Bob Scheer say, that we’re not voting for the lesser of two evils, but the evil of two lessers.

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The Power of Attention

Sometimes we don't look at things as much as we overlook them. The most important tools to our happiness are right there in front of us waiting. But like an old friend who now suddenly appears as the person you have been looking for all along, we see the power in things we take for granted if we take the time to simply pay attention.

Being present, or paying attention, is a good example of what I'm talking about. We spend so much of our lives lost in memories of things past or pining for future fantasies, that we have no time for the present moment. The fact is that without now, we can't do anything. If we're not present, then we lose. The NY Lottery has an ad campaign with the slogan, “You gotta be in it to win it.” And so it is with life.

Most of us don't pay attention; we're too full of assumptions. We don't actually see our loved ones, we see our own projections. We don't really listen. In fact, we’re not wired to pay attention and  generally pay attention to what's negative -- great for survival, not so great for everyday life. In other words, our attention often operates in the background, allowing us to interact with the environment without much thought, and it can bias us to make certain decisions without us being aware of it. This is a good thing when we’re trying to figure out whether something is edible, fuckable, or if it will eat us. Standing around attempting to process all that information would have doomed us as a species.

However, this is not a good thing for higher order types of functions. Such as listening to each other, or not taking things for granted, or allowing the biases we were taught as children to function as prejudice. Training our attention as such practices as mindfulness meditation, provides us with awareness and the opportunity to take wise actions to further balance this negativity bias.

I had a teacher who used the following story to highlight the power of something as simple as listening. Some of the details are sketchy, but I think I've been able to preserve the core message.

In an east African tribe (I forget which) a child's life is not counted from the day it's born, nor on the day it is conceived, as in other cultures, but on the day the child is a thought in the mother's mind. As soon as the mother realizes she wants to have a child, she will go off alone somewhere, under a tree, for example, and she quiets herself and simply listens. Not listening for anything in particular, or asking for answers, or anything like that -- just listening.

Bare attention... 

She waits to hear the song of the child who wants to be born in her heart. And as she hears this song, she sings it to her herself. When she returns to her village, she teaches the song to her husband. In that way when they make love, when they connect in love, they sing this song in unison in order to invite this child to be born. Later, when the mother conceives, she sings this song to the life growing in her womb.

She teaches the song to her neighbors so that the first thing the child hears when it is born is its song in celebration of its birth. Later, as the child grows, if it falls and scrapes its knee, an adult will soothe the child's cries by singing its song. When the child grows into adulthood, the song is sung in celebration of their rite of passage. When there is a marriage the songs of both participants are sung.

Finally, when that individual grows older and passes from this existence the song is again invoked.

Imagine living in a society in which such attention and listening were truly valued and cultivated. A world where stopping and being present is like a hit song we all celebrate and dance to. What would your song sound like?

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

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