My grandson sent this to me recently:
It is our nature to be powerful, joyful, vibrant, full of energy, and in command of our experience. Conditioning can only control us AFTER we have been beaten down into a weakened state.
The great trick of conditioning is that once we have been beaten down by outside forces, conditioning convinces us to use our own strength to keep ourselves down. This is the only way it can have any hope of controlling us.
It is because of conditioned mind’s single-minded effort to redirect attention to maintaining its position of control over the life force that animates us that, in our practice, we encourage an even greater diligence in keeping attention and awareness here/now with life. To that end we offer a wide range of practice supports—most free of charge—that those wishing to wake up and end suffering can avail themselves of. Practice Everywhere reminders (which come with technical assistance for anyone new to this sort of thing), Daily Peace Quotes, Transform Your Life (the perpetual calendar of quotes and awareness exercises) is now available as a free iPhone app, Open Air talk radio’s thousands of hours of archives, The Voices cartoons, Peace Practices, these blogs… Then there are things like Reflective Listening Buddies and at-home working meditation retreats, the 30-day retreat in the back of Making A Change for Good that have a small cost.
In short, there are enough practices to occupy a person’s attention around the clock, enough fun, interesting objects for attention to keep the willing practitioner grinning constantly. (The grin, of course, is what happens when a person is living Here/Now.)
But, sadly, people—good, sincere people—continue to get talked out of availing themselves of all those grins and instead allow conditioning/self-hate to use the strength of their very own life force to keep them in bondage.
I don’t know how many of you have a sense of what the monks do day in and day out. If you’ve been around for any length of time you probably have a strong sense that they do a lot. They do. They work 24/7 doing their own practice and offering practice to others. Briefly (keep in mind that these are only the big rocks in their job descriptions), Michael is in charge of all things food, Amy handles the logistics of practice (who is where when doing what), Sequoia does communication between practice central and the rest of the world, Melinda facilitates and combines psychotherapy with Zen practice, Dave oversees practice, training, the Monastery itself and too much more to imagine, and Jen is in charge of keeping and coordinating the big picture of every aspect of practice(!), our financial wellbeing, and the Africa Vulnerable Children Project. This leaves only Alex. What in the heck does Alex do?
Like everyone else, Alex has a long list of services he performs, but what he brings to practice is a willingness, enthusiasm, and creativity that keep us all inspired. If you’ve seen him you know that he is always “decorated” with the various reminders he wants at the front of his conscious awareness to keep him inspired. There are pictures of the children he’s partnered with in Kantolomba, the Peace Quote of the day, the exercise from Transform Your Life, and whatever else he’s currently working on. He’s done the 30-day retreat from Making A Change for Good repeatedly since the book came out. He draws a Voices cartoon every week. He’s invented an iPod shuffle earbud reminder system that will be unveiled next month with the new book What You Practice Is What You Have. The guy is non-stop! Oh, and he’s that great singer on the Open Air commercials, the author of “Stop, Drop, and Breathe.”
But here’s what has inspired me to write this blog: He, and his alter-non-ego Awareness Junkie Man, are launching a campaign to raise $5000 for the children in Kantolomba. If that money comes in, Awareness Junkie Man (complete with goggles, cape, and, we fear, tights), will walk across the Golden Gate Bridge on October 2 at the 9th Annual Bridge Walk. This I want to see!
So, I am proposing a matching grant. I will match donations up a thousand dollars that come in by the 21st. Are you in? http://www.livingcompassion.org/donations
Oh, and one other insight I had this morning. Tomorrow is the last day to get a t-shirt for the Bridge Walk. This one is a stunner (drawn by Alex), and we want everyone who would like one to have one. If the voices are telling you you can’t afford it, here’s my offer to you. Email the registration office at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, and t-shirt size, and I will cover the cost for you. (In case anyone is having a suspicious moment, these funds are not coming out of donations. I have a part-time job.)
I hope you will join us in person, in spirit, or both in making this Bridge Walk the biggest and best ever. A lot of great people and really adorable children are counting on us. http://www.livingcompassion.org/bridge-walk