Archive for the ‘Manjushri Teachings’ Category

Manjushri on Post-Election

Posted on: November 13th, 2016 by PennyGill 6 Comments

Conversation with Manjushri, post election
November 11, 2016

Oh, Manjushri, these have been very tough days since the presidential election. Many have asked me if I have received a teaching from you about all of this. And though my grief is deep, and I have wept a great deal, I must say, the results – though shocking to me – did not give me new information about the deep values of a significant part of the American electorate. We are an immature society, a society that countenances violence while it tells itself a story about its own exceptional qualities and its right to impose itself on other nations. It often seems to me to be arrogant, self-congratulatory, and focused on the pursuit of wealth over many other possible values. We praise freedom from and ignore the possibilities of freedom for. Perhaps in some way, we deserve what we have done to our republic, for surely, we have done it. And surely there is a very great deal about how we govern ourselves and manage our affairs which could well be changed, often radically changed.

I come to you this evening with a very heavy heart, full of worry for our poor earth and the cascade of environmental destructions and for those Americans with the least access to power – people of color, the poor, Moslems, the ill, immigrants, the unemployed, and surprisingly, so many women and children. Once again, I am deeply concerned about the American role in the global world, our foreign policy, and our global economic institutions and policies. We are a challenging presence in the lives of many other nations.

And once again, I am impossibly stretched between these matters and the call of the Teachers to greater consciousness, to opening our hearts, to recognizing our interdependence with all beings, and to lives shaped by both wisdom and compassion. I wish I were brave enough to ask you to direct your shining sword against our ignorance, but I am not.

Perhaps you could grace us with some strong and clear advice about how to understand our grief, even when it seems self-righteous, and how to gather ourselves up to get back to our essential tasks in these precious lives of ours? Or is there another way to address our deep confusion? Anything you might be willing to say would be a very great gift to all of us.

Ah, yes, student whose energy I have come to know well, yes. Some words for you and your friends. First, and most important, do not be afraid! You have received many teachings about fear; they always remind you that fear is an enormous obstacle to clear thinking, deep understanding, and creating solutions to problems. Of course, you are afraid, all of you. So, take up the arduous practices of the fear-work: name the fear, most importantly, and say it to another. This slight moment of self-acknowledgement shifts the energy of fear significantly. Then, conversation may follow, or sending oneself compassion for the suffering that comes from fear, or inquiring into the roots of the fear; all are helpful.

Second, inquire into a simple question: what in my community or my country is an obstacle to recognizing your deep connections with each other and with all other species? This is the simple question about your awareness of interdependence, simple and extremely powerful, if you allow it to lead you deep into the many institutions and practices common in your society. Again, this may be done singly, but it is much more powerful to do this in conversation with others.

Third, ask yourself/yourselves, which relatively focused piece of this great puzzle will you commit to changing? Be clear about how it relates to the larger picture, but do not overwhelm yourselves with a grandiose goal. The possible projects are unlimited, but what matters most, at the outset, is that you join with a few others, promising to stay focused on some important dimension of change in your community and to support each other in the process. In all likelihood, the most important outcome will be to create seeds of resilient, open-hearted community, which in turn will begin to undermine the real sickness of American society, its embrace of competitive individualism.

Young people may need some assistance with this; elders may need support to trust their relevance, but all people, winners and losers in this election cycle and all the rest, can recognize there is much work to be done in their world. Becoming active, moving through the passivity and discouragement, is essential, before anything else can even be contemplated.

So: that is a brief outline of what you might do. I must once again re-frame the moment for you. You experience defeat, rejection, and powerlessness. You are appalled at those who would reverse much progressive social change from the last decades. Let go of all of that. It is not helpful. Instead, recognize that this very upset – a perfect word – suggests opportunity. Structures that seemed impossible to change now seem weak, even tottering. Normal practices and behaviors that seemed of little interest now carry much greater weight, in your view. Grand questions are on every page and in almost every beleaguered mind. All this is very helpful! Everyone is awake, on edge, at the same moment. It is a superb opportunity to re-evaluate, re-imagine, re-shape, and then, re-build.

And none of this is possible, unless you uncover and release your fear. Begin with that work, share it, and move to focused, achievable tasks, on behalf of yourselves and your community. It is a very pregnant moment. Do not waste it, please.

Thank you very much.

Checking In

Posted on: April 5th, 2016 by PennyGill 1 Comment

I am so happy to report that What in the World Is Going On? has engaged readers in the Tibetan community in India, Bhutan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Italy, Germany, Norway, Great Britain, and of course, the US. I will be jogging behind it, as it goes out into the world, with ever more astonishment and joy.

As a Lenten practice this spring, I began to copy treasures from various file folders into a lovely, big black book. Here is one I thought you might find worth pondering; I have. It is by Paul Ferrini. And I think it speaks beautifully of Manjushri’s main point: Heal your fear and open your heart center!

The Rewards of Partnership

As long as there is growth and honesty in your relationship, it is worthy of your commitment. This doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. Even in the best relationships, doubts and fears continue to arise for both people. However, mature people learn to hold those doubts and fears with compassion. They learn to be patient with and accepting of each other.

In time, the hard shell around your hearts begins to crack open. Where fear used to hold you back, you learn to take baby steps forward. You learn to walk through your fears and stretch your hand out to your partner. You learn to heal together and to trust each other.

And then you experience a gentleness born of the struggle, a sweetness born of the pain. Then there is a twinkle in your eyes when you look at your partner. It isn’t the same twinkle that was there when you first met. It is a different one. It tells of your journey through fear and projection into the heart of acceptance and love.

Shower of Spirit: Summer Rain or Fierce Thunderstorm?

Posted on: November 19th, 2015 by PennyGill 1 Comment

Manjushri speaks of the Shower of Spirit now drenching us, bringing us a new energy, an energy of a higher frequency. It has been difficult for me to really understand what that means, and I have looked for concrete evidence and images. Last summer, for example, there was a period of more frequent and intense solar flares, and I wondered if that was somehow related to this Shower.

Probably not. But it is a good example of how I automatically try to ground a Teaching about Spirit in my three-dimensional, visible world. But Shower of Spirit surely refers to a different aspect of energy, not material, not visible to the human eye, and maybe quite unrecognizable to a normal person like myself.

I’ve been pondering this all summer and fall, at my island cabin. I think I did learn one very helpful aspect of this Shower of Spirit: I used to envision it as something comforting and welcome, like a soft rain in early summer. But not so.

For me, the Shower of Spirit has come to mean a time of intense inner and outer transition, painful losses, and some inescapable interior pressure to speak ever more truthfully from my deepest self. No more self-censorship or circumlocutions. I realized that the Shower of Spirit is actually a goad, a relentless wake-up call, and an invitation to much more transparency and deeper integrity.

There is nothing easy about this process, but perhaps it is a necessary step to recognize my embeddedness in the great web of interdependence and compassion. No soft summer shower, but thunder and lightening, as well!

Which Place on Earth Do You Most Love?

Posted on: April 12th, 2015 by PennyGill No Comments

I’ve been discussing Naomi Klein’s superb new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, with my first-year Mt Holyoke College students.  Klein argues that our only hope of really solving the terrifying consequences of climate change is to radically change how capitalism functions today, both in the US and the world.

In the first 2/3 of the book Klein shows the intricate relationships between the corporate drive for profits and growth and a political system increasingly serving that corporate agenda.  In the last third, Klein reports on the myriad examples of local resistance, of local communities around the world organizing to protect their land, water, air, and lives from the destruction caused by the hunt for ever more fossil fuels.  People mount this stunning resistance our of love for their own place on earth.  Their love for their land and their community dissolves their fear of corporate invasions, threats, and claims over their land and resources.

Last week I asked my students to be quiet for a few moments and to think of a place on earth they so love, they would fight to protect it.  To my dismay, only about half of them could identify a beloved place.  And I was saddened as well; how can one live in this challenging world without a beloved place?

It resonated deeply for me with Manjushri’s teaching about the relationships between fear and love.  So much of our self-destructive behavior arises from fear.  Fear must be addressed with kindness and clarity, and love and compassion are far more powerful energies than fear.  It is a deep truth well born our in Klein’s powerful new book.

The Place I love

The Place I love

Kwan Yin on Current Middle East: Supporting Reform

Posted on: November 25th, 2013 by PennyGill 2 Comments

Recently, I asked beloved Teacher, Kwan Yin, about the Middle East.  Are there solutions within reach?  How can the incredible stresses Islam is under in all these different situations lead to deep awareness of all that is at stake? What could allow a return to Islam’s fundamental core teachings about living good lives in harmonious communities, and thus begin the slow turn in search of non-violent ways to resolve conflicts and pursue more equity and justice?

The great tradition, the great river of Islam, has raced now to its ultimate barrier and opponent: itself.  Along with its powerful teachings about self-control, submission to the divine, and generosity to one’s neighbors were planted seeds of impatience, the use of force to achieve unity, and a certain hard-heartedness.  Shutting out women and girls from the whole religious and spiritual enterprise has made it ever more difficult to leaven the ferocity of the pursuit of virtue, which might allow gradual transitions from within the tradition.

Now Islam has come up against itself, and it is in profound shock.  As is common in such situations, people retreat into the known and  secure practices of earlier times.  But they are not sufficient in a world of drones, chemical weapons, cell phones, and instant communication.  People meant to be followers now can inform themselves and judge for themselves what is to be preserved and what, of all that has led to this inhuman catastrophe, must be transformed or discarded.

There are two things for you and like minded colleagues to do: wrap the Muslim world in your kind energy, to create a safe container for this profound self examination which must be underway. And do all you can to keep the other powers, especially the US, Russia, and Europe, out of the region.  This can and must be resolved by the people who live there.