For anyone going though or trying to understand grief in life, I am honored to share with you an Essay written by my Mentor Michale Stone... may his words of wisdom offer at least some insight into this unavoidable passage of life that is awaiting us all...
The very spiritual core of me has been shattered with passing of my dear friend, my teacher, my Buddhist and Mindfulness Mentor: Shoken Michale Stone !!! Through all the trying, heartfelt as well as most existentially meaningfull times in my life, he and his teachings have been the only constant, most grounding thing in my life! And now he is gone...
Last summer during my silent retreat with him, every night we would recite the Zen Chant, and now I am saying it for him with tears running down my face:
"Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken... Awaken!
Take heed, do not squander your life."
His international Sangha community without borders is forever going to miss his most insightful, most authentic, deeply lived wisdom that grew out of lifelong dedicated meditative and mindful practice and service.... my heart is scarred by impermanence...
He wrote once:
"When we lose people, friendships, health, or we're dispossessed from a place we loved, we may think it's a temporary process of mourning that we are in. But maybe loss shows us some basic truth about who we are: we are tied to others and to place. Those bonds form us. It's not like there is an "I" that exists over here and a "you" over there somewhere. When I lose you, I lose me too. Grief challenges the very notion that we are separate selves. We do not always succeed at being whole. The faces of others, the touch and smell of them, our memories of places we have lived and loved - all of this undoes us. It should. Falling down is necessary for waking up to our shared humanity."
~ Michael Stone
If you feel you are a student of life and looking to learn more about how Mindfulness, Meditation and Buddhist philosophy can make you more intimate with life experience, I sincerely suggest you check out the body of his work, which at its essence has a deep wisdom grown out of personal practice. May his work continue to inspire many...
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The cult of progress is everywhere. Science continues to plod ahead at ever-intensifying rates of speed. Technologies develop faster than most people can possibly take the time to understand. Politicians rely on false conceptions of “change” and “moving forward” to secure a place among the hearts of the simple-minded common person. Welcome to the progress of our age: material progress. What you see is what you get.
This ideology of material progress strongly relies on a dissatisfaction with the present. It is thus the philosophical credo of perpetual unrest and unhappiness. If we cannot be peaceful and mindful in the present, we certainly can’t be peaceful and mindful in the future! The modern world’s false tenet: right now is unpleasant, so if we work to move forward, things will get better. The doctrine says, “All we have to do is speed everything up, make more jobs, more technologies, more scientific advances, more money, more of everything. Then everything will be ok.”
This is metaphorically comparable to the socially estranged and spiritually bankrupt billionaire sitting alone in his fancy mansion of gold and gadgets and going, “If only I had more gold and gadgets. Then I’d be happy.”
True progress eludes humanity since we have deluded ourselves and others into believing that human history is determined by material circumstances. The influence of this concept led to more human deaths in the 20th century alone than any other single philosophical idea in history. The cult of historical materialism has led humans to believe that religion and spirituality are disposable tools used to achieve tangible goals, not metaphysical tools for cultivating the values that give life meaning: humility, love, loyalty, awe, and self-discipline. Matters of heart and spirit have gone neglected; they are perceived as secondary to the outrageous notion of external progress at all costs. Even meditation practice has been warped and bastardized by the modern mentality as a tool for efficiency.
What will save us in our materialistic, scientific and technologically-obsessed stupor is a return to the spirit and a return to nature. Progress has been ill-defined. It doesn’t mean real human spiritual progress. Humans are the same— if not worse— spiritually as they were before the Internet, TV, cars, electricity, the phone, modern plumbing, the Enlightenment, WWII, WWI, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, etc. You get the idea.
The issue here is that when we think of the material world as the most important indicator of progress, we allow materialism to progress at the expense of spirituality. We rely on our senses more than ever, neglecting the extra-sensory metaphysical world of spiritual intuition and natural force. Thus, we only recognize what we can experience on a sensory level. Deeper matters, the truly important stuff, remain covered by layers of sensory stimulation.
The result of all this? People become groomed by default to be dissatisfied with life no matter what, since they begin to equate the stuff of life with life itself. They don’t reflect and they don’t look within. And what do we have today? A massive world population of technologically advanced people whose spirituality has decayed to such a degree that they can’t stop to reflect. Real spiritual discipline is terrifying to unruly decadent 21st-century technophiles.
Let us work together to revise the false march towards material progress— a march towards a cliff’s edge. Instead, let’s direct our attention inward, cultivating the values of spirituality as they have always been cultivated by thoughtful humans. Instead of speed, efficiency, disruption, and material optimization, let us reorient our values towards compassion, mindfulness, gratitude, honesty, and discipline. All that is required is a balance. Right now, the balance skews towards material progress. If we can collectively begin a push towards real internal spiritual growth, we may reverse this destructive cycle. The natural spiritual potential of your mind is more powerful than any external invention should you choose to cultivate it.
Very nice article on the power of Art Activism and how arts can effect social change! As artists we need to be reminded of the amazing tools and the language we have within us, that can, does and will- not only transform but also FORM new revolution of consciousness! As Artists (side by side with other Civil Activists), we need to foster our tradition of Art not just being "a thing", but A WAY TO CHANGE!
To all of my Artist friends and those I do not know in person, may you go forth and use your Art to effect and create positive social change!
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