Musings of the InsightLA teachers
I'm in San Francisco at the Wisdom 2.0 conference asking how to bring wisdom and compassion to our use of technology. There are many competing views on this. It is like the ancient story about six people who are blind touching different parts of an elephant and describing what they discover. Touching the side, one says it is like a wall, the trunk is like a snake, a tusk is like a spear, leg, a tree, ear, a fan or tail, a rope. They get into a fight about the truth each has seen. A wise woman witnessing this calmly explained to them, "All of your are right. The whole elephant has all those features each of you named."
Each of us carries part of the truth through our unique perspectives, but we need each other to see the whole picture, the whole elephant. Mindfulness offers us a way to do this, like a Super power. It suffuses what we see with clarity and compassion, revealing the panoramic nature of interrelatedness and interconnectedness, of consciousness itself. When we learn to open our consciousness, we can step beyond our fixations on what's often a limited, partial and particular view.
Here at the conference, we see technology, too, as a Super power - social media and the digital world have the potential to hugely enhance our ability to communicate and understand different points of view. But without mindfulness and technology being wed, in the way the current online world is designed, we are at the mercy of algorithms constantly filtering what we see, restricting and narrowing our view. These 'filter bubbles' polarize and silo us, making it increasingly difficult to look at people and current events in all their rich, nuanced diversity - with a wider lens of unfiltered awareness.
With mindfulness we can step back and see with a broader perspective. Whether in our use of technology or in our personal and collective problems, seeing the whole elephant is wisdom, and wisdom brings compassion. Wherever you are, step back. Let yourself see the whole picture, and with an open heart and mind see the miracle, diversity, and kinship of all life.
Retreats are powerful. They give you a chance to reset, refresh, and de-clutter your mind. They offer time to resolve unfinished things in your heart, to learn to see yourself and the world with eyes of compassion and forgiveness.
Retreats help to attune to your inner rhythms and to the immense current of universal life flowing through you as you. On retreat you can let your guard down, let your heart open and your body-mind unwind. In the safety and refugeof community, you learn to relax and rest in the richness of life as it is. And at the end of the retreat the benefit is visible: whether it's a day or a week or longer, everyone looks younger, more open, clear-eyed, and radiant.
As practitioners at InsightLA, you benefit from the practice and presence of those around you in your classes and sitting groups. There is a nourishing energy and support in sitting together. This is further strengthened in retreat. Take a moment now and ask yourself: is it time for a retreat? Can a retreat serve you? What might be stopping you from taking time to support your being in this healthy way?
If you can, take the opportunity - and plan to include a silent retreat in your life this year! Retreats can be healing, transfomative and profound, so I encourage you to dip your toes in and explore. You'll be glad you did!
P.S. there is a daylong retreat with me happening next Saturday February 17th. Or better yet, mark your calendar for our 6 night residential Insight Meditation retreat in April.
Even after decades of teaching about the dead-end of hatred, I confess: I hate moving. Even when I'm moving to a more spacious and suitable situation, there is a hazy aura of loss, a premature nostalgia for the place I'm choosing to leave.
Our Los Feliz sitting group is moving to a new home on Monday, February 12th, after years of meeting in a classroom at the Philosophical Research Society. Our new space is not far away; we'll be meeting in a beautiful room nestled in the soft green lawns of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. There's ample room for us to grow, to warmly welcome newcomers to our community in a protected environment - and also plenty of free parking! A sacred historic site, the cemetery is called a "Library of Lives".
The move is thrumming with new possibilities. This is our life, vibrating with unending movement, ceaseless change, impermanence. The fleeting moments we call our days unfold in all of eternity. Teaching at the cemetery last year, all of us who meditated there felt the powerful presence of our ephemeral humanity against a backdrop of eternal peace. We sit among those who have walked this way before on our journey from the unknown to the unknown. We sit together - and we move together, as a community - just like each star moves in a constellation.
And yet, change can be hard. We are sticky creatures, quick to bond with familiarity. Letting go is our practice, but we don't have to like it! How is it for you when life changes? Do you resent and resist? Or do you seize an opportunity to wake up to a deep and profound truth of our life?