Iris and I are still in Mandalay Myanmar. I admire what Iris is doing here. She is so very commited to giving that little bit of herself that can make a difference to other human beings. Now that Myanmar doors are open, philanthropic efforts have begun, most often not separate from a western capitalist agenda. Some doctors will come to Myanmar, often bringing cameras and media with them emphasising the numbers and good deeds that they have helped with and the money they have collected; appealing for more money. At one clinic here an American doctor arranged to come in to do three days of cataract surgery with his documentary team and then he flew out. To do this the clinic had to suspend an already established service that was doing ninety cataracts a day. Any complications were left for the team that was there prior to his intervention. Its not that it is bad thing to do but the question is how helpful is it. Often the help that is provided has much to do with the needs of the donator; to feel good about donating and to have proof that their money is making a difference. There can be quite gap between this and what others actually need.
Iris has come to realize the importance of a different, more intimate, connecting way of working with people in developing countries. It is her fifth year coming here and it has involved coming to know and empower local doctors through individual relationships with aspiring surgeons who do not have access to the teaching skills that she possesses. We are in the process of supporting a clinic here where Iris can train doctors to perform cataract operations. For a number of years she has been offering services, training a few doctors in Vitro retinal surgery a skill that is near absent in Myanmar.
Photograph taken by Gord Clements in Nepal 2009 For it’s always that way with the sacred value of life. We forget it as long as it belongs to us, and give it as little attention during the unconcerned hours of our life as we do the stars in the light of day. Darkness must fall before we are aware of the majesty of the stars above our heads. It was necessary for this dark hour to fall, perhaps the darkest in history, to make us realize that freedom is as vital to our soul as breathing to our body.*
—From ‘At This Dark Hour’, a speech given by Stefan Zweig to the US PEN Club in New York, May 1941
Our freedom has taken us to a precipice. Scientists predict we may lose half the species on the planet by the end of the century. They believe we have entered the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history. Number five took out the dinosaurs. This era is called the Anthropocene, or ‘Age of Man’, because the evidence shows that humanity has sparked this catastrophic loss. We are the only ones who can stop it as well. At this point in time on this planet the definition of freedom must come quickly to include all other beings on the planet.
Something must change in human consciousness if there is to be hope for the planet. I know that I must change and that I must remind myself at times not to be so self fixated that I forget. Pope Francis Christmas message is calling for “Mercy” extended to all beings is something to consider as part of a much-needed change in human awareness. http://nyti.ms/1GZUT7p
A close friend sent the card below to me the other day. I happened to be, at the time, reading about the stream of life; that everything that we experience is a part of us, although, ultimately we are consciously not aware of this interconnection. We often make an active effort to retain memories of another or direct our lives based on our past recollections. Not that it is wrong to do this, but in not being aware of our connection we have come to rely on our thinking and our memory to define what we are and memory of the past has come to play a substantial role in this.
My friend followed up with an email the next day indicating that her family is going for “power of attorney” because her memory and mental capacity are failing. I did not know that she had reached this point when I received her photo of the card and emailed my reply about us all being interconnected in response to the card.
These days, I am more conscious of this other truth in my experience of living. In that there is less of a need to remember. My contemplation and reflection has influenced my perception, increasing the awareness that we are not the separate entities that we have been conditioned to believe, as our conventional understanding see ourself and others to be. A perceived separation between mind and body perpetuated by our current world view could in fact be at the heart of much of our contemporary illness and other crisis.
All in the universe is changing but our current, dominant collective view often translates into a materially and mechanically focused perception that involves seeing ourselves and the world in a way that is fixed and or static, and more or less being isolated in that.
The reality of change is sometimes difficult for us to accept. There will always be the consequences of change that we have to cope with one way or another. But as humans we have been conditioned to believe that through effort we can change the inevitable. We have come to believe that we can keep things static and in this conditioned belief here is a denial of “what is”, We see only pieces of the puzzle and are busy in our effort to modify those pieces.
A more contemporary realization of science is that we are an inseparable part of this eternal cosmos that is ever-changing and vasty interconnected. Our interconnection as sentient human beings is much more than we perceive it to be. Our adaptive perceptual developments actually interfere with this more cosmic and comprehensive perception.
We are in fact more in flow with ourselves, others and the cosmos when we are in line with this more comprehensive way of being. It is not something that can occur through willful effort. It is only a piece of it, that can in fact perpetuate a piecemeal perception if we rely predominantly only on it. In doing so we do become separated in our awareness of deeper truth. We have to be willing to investigate and inquire into our habits and patterns if we desire to open to a more truthful way of perceiving our lives.
How do we realize the optimizing force inherent in existence so that it will resume its natural function of revelation and unfolding if the incredible potential within our being is to be realized?
There are many possible ways to experience and conceptualize our existence. How can we know for sure that our way is the right way?
I have an immense desire to know truth. And I have come to know that my way of seeing what is true has changed. That has to do partly with the limitations of knowing and partly to do with the fact that everything is constantly changing. I realize that truth can be a subjective experience and that how we perceive it to be, seems to change and unfold as we unfold. But it is the one thing that I love the most and it has led me to know that loving truth is the only thing that can lead to freedom.
At this time I am inclined to reflect on the truth as I see it to be in relation to our human conditioning. For almost all humans, a conditioning occurs through language, culture and other influences, that shapes our thoughts and in turn how we perceive and understand. It is an inevitable part of our upbringing in a dualistic world. If we hope to open to the truth of what is we must come to be aware of it and to understand how it has shaped and inevitably limited our experience.
Through that conditioning the intellect becomes compromised and in that, it acquires a discriminating, materialistic and reductionist way of understanding that contributes to distortion and confusion in the way we envision life and all in it.
The intellect must in fact come to be diverted away from the processed abstractions of philosophical or materialistic junk food if it is to gain access to any quality or depth of insight that is its nature prior to the conditioning. It is key that there is the realization that the intellect itself needs to awaken to the way in which it functions as a method, that obscures the nature of mind.
No amount of collected data or information acquired in this conditioned way will ever answer the question of what humanity looks to find about itself. A letting go and letting be; all part of another aspect of being in the world in a more whole way, can come to increasingly influence the intellect and to contribute to the development of a more comprehensive vision and understanding than we have known through our conditioned way.
I am settling into my third week here in Canada after being away for seven months. There has been adjustment involved. In Germany where I live I have had limited communication with individuals. Here the opportunity for intimate sharing is greatly increased and I have had an outpouring in terms of interaction and discussion with others in the these weeks.
In the last ten years I have traveled extensively to many countries. I have flown on over 150 planes and many taxis, buses, trams and trains and slept in so many different beds. There always seems to be adjustment involved and I am comfortable with that.
It seems to me that if we are authentically connected to ourselves and to the world we are in there is always adjustment involved. We are not static creatures. Change is always a part of our experience. We are always affected by the environment we are in and our own being, attachments snd where we are at in our openness and unfolding. We can negotiate that in presence/awareness and we can come to witness how we are in this experience,but to think that we can enter into a place of enlightened compassion and love where we can cope indifferent to all that is occurring in the world around us is unrealistic. New situations can serve as probes in bringing old habits and patterns to the light. In openess we can move towards a greater sensitivity to ourselves and to our environment and to an authentic awareness of our vulnerability. In no way do I ever feel that I have attained mastery over how I live. It is more of a getting out of the way allowing for a flowing along with what is. If I am not flowing in presence I find myself in suffering.
I often find it difficult to find words to express my experience. They never seem to be able to capture the humility, sense of gratefulness and mystery that are often a part of what I experience these days. There is something creative when using words simular to using paint to create a picture. Some times one is happy wirh the painting and at times obe is not so happy.
The greatest influence in my painting and creating, and my life searching has been a desire to live and eypress myself in a way that is authentic. Feeling grateful, humble and seeing the mystery all seem to be connected to this. Outside of these sensations I don’t really know what is true and what is not and I am very doubtful that anyone else does.
I have come to trust more in a place of direct experience within for that guidance than in investing too much time and hope in anything that might come from elsewhere. Attending to life through awareness has something that I have increasingly focused on over the years. I know that I have entered this intensely human aware experience when compassion, connectivity and a sense of self realisation are present. There is a sense of coming to intimately know something that can not be known through other efforts. It is only here that I have a sense of thriving in being a fundamental part of something authentic, that in awareness is extended to others as it deserves to be. In coming to be more in this place it allows for acceptance and change and an unfolding to occur in a way that is natural and real. From these depths within myself I am aware that I am an inseparable from all else here on this planet and further beyond it and from this wholeness all experience in life is more intimate and there exists a wisdom more relevant than anything I encounter that has been produced through our external ways of knowing that we have become dependent on.
The Irawaddy River sunrise By GordIris and I had breakfast in a little shop outside of the hospital this morning at 6 AM. It was a simple shop that served tea and Nan with peas.We have come to know the owner there over the years and he invited us there to visit before we left. People here rise with the sun and they go to bed as it sets. Watching the sun rise over the river, the young monks and nuns out collecting alms and listening to the birds sing in the morning one feels connected to the earth and to the others here regardless of the differences between us.
This does not occur in the same way in the west, especially so in Germany where people have their agendas, their need to hurry and to get to somewhere else. They carry with them their baggage about what they believe themselves to be, what they have pursued and become; so much so that the awareness of connection has faded. It’s not so much that I am against modernization and the expertise that it has created but more that I am saddened by how it perpetuates such a delusional veneer that interferes with life. Humankind has created status, classes and castes, race, religion, nations and many other classifications and divisions and we can be so extreme in the significance and importance that we attach to these concepts that we have created. And we continue to create more that promotes separation and division.
Things are not perfect here. But at least life allows for moments of letting go of all of our human inventions that serve partly as barriers to a clear seeing and there is an unspoken relating to others and to the whole that is once again realized in this.