Monday, March 26, 2007

Compassion In Action: Let's Get Real

Media reports chaos: war, torture, killing, lying, profiteering from others’ misfortune, systematic neglect of people and the environment--all touted as necessary problem-solving strategies by governments around the world. Unpleasant surprises pop up. The U.S. government using a chemical weapon, white phosphorous, against Iraqi people and secretly spying on U.S. citizens. Genocide in Darfur. Displacement and death in Lebanon, Gaza, and Israel. The U.S. government continues making proclamations about Iran that look similar to those it made to justify invading Iraq. In attempting to censor the press by expanding the Espionage Act of 1917, the U.S. government attempts to curtail citizens’ first amendment rights, and has eliminated the right of Habeas Corpus for non-citizens. Ours is a problem-studded universe. A political maelstrom in which combat strategies abound.

When we question local and world leaders about the absence of compassionate strategies, we receive a myriad of answers based on the assumption that this is the nature of existence. When we suggest strategies for humane solutions, we’re told either that we don’t have all the information and therefore, that we don’t understand, or that we’re traitors for disagreeing with our governments’ policies. We’re often told that the information we need is classified. Cutting off access to information about what our governments are doing denies us the opportunity to act responsibly, to check misuse of power. A cosmology of chaos, fear, and secrecy is constructed. A political cosmology that discourages us from taking action, from being responsible participants in our lives.

Thousands of years ago many cultures had the view that a deep harmony structures all existence. An ordered existence in which people, animals, plants, and elements work together in harmony to solve problems. Even today Indigenous, religious, Buddhist, and shamanic communities use compassion as a core principle in solving problems--compassion in action.

All around the world shamans have carried on the ancient tradition of compassion in action through their effective healing and divination practice. But some religions and governments systematically wiped out this method of problem-solving by jailing and killing shamans. Is it because there are no religious or governmental intermediaries between the shaman and the source of compassionate strategies?

Although Buddhism is different from shamanism in many respects, the practice of compassion is core. In Tibet Buddhism was an essential element of the culture, as shamanism was in communities around the world. In 1959 there were more than 6,000 monasteries in Tibet. Within twenty years the Chinese government had destroyed all but eight, and had tortured and killed over 100,000 monks and nuns.

We can offer many hypotheses for the destruction of these and other communities the world over, but it appears that because it is outside politics, compassion is seditious.

Compassion is a neutralizer, offering different perspectives. Compassion counterbalances impulses of greed, domination, and fear. The more compassion fills us, the more we may be willing and able to seek kinder non-combative solutions to our personal, local, national, and world problems. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa is an example.

While governments cut off our access to information, compassionate practices encourage us to ask questions and interact in a world of infinite information, thus, offering us the opportunity to discover humane strategies and to take responsible action on our own behalf. Agency in our daily lives.

“Journeying” like a shaman to the spirit world for compassionate strategies, and thinking like the Dalai Lama won’t guarantee cessation of death, destruction, torture and war, the cynical strategies of world governments. But we can exercise our individual choice and try. Taking action can set a wave of compassion in motion, making war and destructive strategies more unsavory, thus, more difficult to employ.

Sometimes we spontaneously feel compassion. Seeing an old person struggle to cross the street, an injured animal, a person with no shelter. Global atrocities. Many of us have felt the deeply moving experience of someone expressing compassion toward us. It is an instantly transforming moment filled with grace.

We can also do specific things to activate our compassion-- think about it, talk with others about it, meditate on it, let ourselves feel, study one of the compassionate ancient traditions, start our own. We can join the beings that are devoted to helping one another solve problems, restoring harmony and health to them and slowly perhaps, to the world.

The opportunity is available to experience a radically different cosmos. A relationship in which we direct our path in a new way, bringing compassionate solutions and actions to our lives and to the world. We can continue an ancient tradition of compassion in action. The newly elected U.S. Congress has this opportunity. Will they stand up and speak compassion? Make compassion public.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and on any other posts. If you'd like to comment, click on "Comments" at the bottom of the post. Then write in the box. When you're finished, click on "Publish." That sends your comment to my email address. It does not show up on the blog. If you would like your comment to show on the blog, let me know and I'll post it in the "Comments."
I look forward to hearing from you.

c Alesia Kunz

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Jumping In: The Spirit World

What about we just jump in? Into the world of spirits.

What is the spirit world? It's a world where spirits live. People and beings who used to live in the Middle World, where we live now, who have passed out of this world into another. Our grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, dogs, cats, trees, plants. All inhabit the spirit world.

We can talk with them. And they wish to talk with us.

The most incredible information is that the spirit world is inhabited by compassionate beings. All the spirits are compassionate beings. I have learned many things from this world but by far the most important for me is compassion. Each time I enter the spirit world I am shown compassion. As a result, my compassion blossoms. With every contact I make, the color of my compassion spreads and deepens. It is a remarable gift.

c Alesia Kunz