"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Don't Just Do Something --  Sit There.
Then Do Something! 
Notes on The People's Climate March 


“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
―Martin Luther King Jr.


Betsy and I had set the alarm for 3:45 AM -- and only hit the snooze alarm once.  It was Time.

After coffee, a bit of breakfast, and a bit of last minute packing, we were in the car, driving an hour to Greenfield to join 52 other folks on a charter bus for the long drive to New York City.  Clusters of folks wielding placards, backpacks and coffee cups were already in the Big Y parking lot as we arrived, somewhere on Mr. Sandman's side of 6 AM.  

A few moments later, a whoop went up as a bus appeared, gleaming in the eerie lights of the parking lot.  Then a bit of confusion emerged as another coach arrived.   Then another.  Then another.  It seems that there were two buses full of People's Climate Marchers making a pit stop en route from Brattleboro, VT and another bus that would also depart from Greenfield now in the parking lot.  I was also aware that a couple of my 108 Housemates were traveling on yet another bus, one of several, leaving from UMass-Amherst a few miles to the south.   As the heroic bus captains sorted it out and we climbed aboard, I thought, "This is going to be big!"

I had no idea.  Big was an understatement. 

Although the first reports of the mainstream media attempted to downplay the numbers with headlines like "Thousands gather.......", by evening it was obvious.  Even the stridently right wing Fox News conceded that upwards of 310, 000 people had gathered on the streets of New York City, other accounts had it upwards of 400, 000.  With another estimated 200, 000 participating in events in other locations throughout the world,  the Peoples Climate March was the largest environmental demonstration in history. 

For me, the most striking moments of an long, long day filled with striking moments began at 12:58 PM when, as planned, the multicolored river of humanity that stretched for miles through the streets of Manhattan went totally silent.  Amazingly, nobody had to say "hush".  The sounds of silence itself swept over us -- in an instant.  What had in one moment been a exuberant throng of drumming and chanting and singing and whooping climate marchers was now a Silent Presence.   In the distance a solitary siren wailed momentarily, a fitting reminder of the situation which we are facing on this planet.   Then, it too disappeared, embraced by the Stillness. 

In those moments the One Love was obvious.  In that Silent Presence, the Heart of our concern for this planet and all its miraculous beings beat as One.

Then, at 1 PM, hundreds of thousands of human voices and church bells and drums and musical instruments erupted with a resounding roar.  With the speed and power of a bolt of lightning, sweeping uptown like a tsunami of sound and energy, that roar cascaded up Central Park West lifting the throng of us gathered at 86th Street into the One Voice that had emerged.

Though wordless, the message was clear:  It is time.  Our Planet must be Healed.
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I still get goosebumps as images of those few moments on Central Park West emerge.  As I sit here almost a week later, Pema Chodron's words on the mahamudra teachings of Tibetan Buddhism come to mind.  "If you want to pare all phenomena down,  all there would be are stillness and occurrence: space and that which is continually born out of space and returns into space -- stillness and occurrence."  She then went on to point out the suffering and struggle that emerges when we grasp for either.

I feel blessed to have felt the power of each of those seeming poles of Reality within the span of a few moments that day,  to have experienced the vividness of that boundless shared Stillness and surge of that shared Occurrence that emerged like thunder amidst the 400, 000 bodhisattvas gathered to demonstrate our concern for the denizens of this precious planet.  Hopefully, it will be part of what some have called the Great Turning, the badly needed shift in human consciousness that could prevent our collective demise.

Yet,  whether last Sunday's love song rings throughout time and space as a triumphant turning point or a prayer unanswered,  I feel a deep gratitude to have experienced the miracle of One Heart on the streets of New York that day.

Betsy holding our placard at 86th and Central Park West
I also feel blessed to have stumbled across the Teachings and Practice which enable me, more and more, to let go and deeply appreciate both the stillness of the meditation cushion and the hustle bustle of activity and activism of a fully engaged life.  The two are no longer experienced as fundamentally separate, they inter-are. *  

Like two hands held at the heart in gassho, each graces the my life.  



*A term coined by Thich Nhat Hanh to more accurately describe the interdependent nature of all phenomena

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank You!
Thanks to all who have the physical stamina, capabilities to speak loud for those who can not but are on the same page. Thank you for pressing on the most important issues. Cleaning up our one true home.