“Be formless, shapeless, like water,” said Bruce Lee, echoing the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu.
Written over two thousand years ago, Sun Tzu’s classic treatise Art of War uses water as a metaphor for strategies in managing conflict.
We are facing growing issues surrounding water, conflict and survival. March 22 is World Water Day, and the start of World Water Week. The focus is to promote peace in transboundary water management through cooperation, not conflict. International waters are key natural resources ensuring our global future. Where they touch on more than one country, or are intercepted by a nation upstream, they are also a source of tension.
Conflicts arise among leaders, as these transboundary issues are deeply rooted in emotions –- water is necessary for survival. And it defines a culture’s opportunity for advancement. The challenge is not only to provide a sustainable clean water system, it is also learning to manage and share resources in an equitable way. Understanding historical water disputes and related treaties provide signposts for conflict resolution and aides in developing strategies for the future. Focusing on cooperation and joint action is essential to vital transboundary waters.
The resolution process requires a tremendous effort, great skill, programs and money. It also calls for awareness. Here’s how you can get involved
Lao Tze said, “The highest good is like water. Water nourishes the ten thousand things.”
Both water and cooperation are precious. Water is life. Communication is the path. No fighting.
It is a day of global awareness…celebrating women — past and present, with the courage to make their voices heard. And for the future — the songs and struggles of daughters everywhere in this world, who deserve the human right to live their lives in balance and in peace…
Peace in our lives. Peace in our homes, our streets, our cities and towns, our countries, our world. OUR world.
Equity in our lives. Equity in our homes, our streets, our cities and towns, our countries, our world. OUR world.
Speak the truth even if your voice shakes….
Having lunch at a coffee shop, I overheard an angry man raging at the woman he was with, calling her a “Gestapo” because she asked him a question. It seemed that she had caught him in a lie, and was quietly looking to have a conversation with him. She told him she was hurt. His discomfort exploded in a volcano of expletives and insults. He hurled words at her like sticks of dynamite and seemed to delight in lighting the fuse….
Gestapo? The Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, exerted a torturous and murdering force over innocent men, women, and children. Their brutality was devoid of humanity.
If I had to give an account of what I witnessed, he was the oppressor: he shamed and humiliated. He was the one wielding the power and force. Everything he said was loud and menacing, inappropriate, poisonous, contemptuous, controlling. Every time she tried to speak, he’d bully her, and tell her to shut up. There was no empathy, or acknowledgement of her discomfort, only his. Though he was caught in a lie he couldn’t deny, he was “explaining” what was wrong with her, and how “distorted” her thinking was. He told her that he was sick of her behavior, and that he was the one who was hurt.
She wasn’t reactive — she did not fight him or insult him, she did ask for an apology. He refused.
Her discomfort, in fact, seemed to fuel his rage. He demanded that she apologize to him — and take responsibility for causing his fury: he said it was her fault. Perhaps what was most disturbing was that once he finished his self-absorbed rant, he was composed. He insisted she not ruin another outing with her “negativity”. He insisted she stop pouting, and “let it go”. They were, he reminded her, out for a relaxing lunch together.
Though there was no physical confrontation, or argument, it was one of the ugliest examples of verbal and emotional abuse I’ve witnessed.
What do you think?
May 2013 be filled with new perspectives and reasons to smile….
MAY YOU FIND A JOYFUL SURPRISE AND PEACE IN THE MOMENT…
In astronomy, the seasons move in celestial cycles. As the earth rotates around the sun, it also spins on its own axis, which tilts towards the plane of its rotation (about 23.5 degrees). The northern hemisphere receives less direct sunlight. Days of less and less light, moving towards the birth of winter and a new year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, unmoving on the horizon solstice translates from latin “sun” and “standing still”. The northern hemisphere experiences its annual winter solstice. This marks the shortest day. It is also the longest night. Then, the sun will again ascend in the northern sky as the days begin to grow longer. It is the Earth returning to light.
In the days growing shorter, with darkness falling around us, we enter into our own dark time of sorts. The darkness is considered the space where secrets lurk, and creatures stir –- the vampires and monsters, the underbelly’s destructive and chaotic forces. Our own fears and failings are in that darkness too. It’s a time for assessing who we are, and where we are – in our selves, in our homes, in our community, and in our world. It is a burning and bruising time to examine our collective spirit.
It is an intensified time of natural disasters and man made crisis. In a year of endless suffering – hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, fiscal woes, foreclosures, job loss, war, and violence, it seems that what lurks in the secret, dark corners, at great expense, is being flushed out. Many of us have been knocked down and heart broken in the process.
On the darkest day in the celestial cycle, today is a day of mourning for the loss of lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
During the shortest day and the longest night of the year it is a time for illumination. Turn on a lamp, light candles, build a fire: it is a time for rational conversation, compassion and change. The sun, from its lowest point, will follow night and make it way back up into the northern sky. There will be a little more light every day.
And so, light warriors — the question is: will we use it wisely?
Our lives are filled with shifts: seismic, paradigmatic, geographical, sociological, personal, and spiritual shifts. Big and small. And our lives are filled with sound: rhythm, and repetition – music, chant, song, verse, and spoken word.
Today is filled with the feeling of a shift. We are aware of the date, and we are in the moment: 12/12/12. Some might note that it is an end…there won’t be another repetitive date for lifetimes, not until January 1, 3001. A door, closing and transformational. Others may say its a number sequence filled with magic and mystery. A portal, open and transformational.
And many of us woke up to the news of Ravi Shankar’s passing.
While Bruce Lee is credited with opening a door to the world of martial arts and to Eastern thought through Chinese philosophy, George Harrison also influenced a cultural shift that would define a generation.
George Harrison was a seeker, looking for a deeper meaning to life beyond the material world and the confusion of fame. He played an instrumental role (pun intended and unintended) in changing how we listen to music, raising our awareness of the global community, opening a door not only to Indian and to world music, but also to Eastern philosophy through Indian thought, practice and meditation. The bridge between East and West was built, note by note, through his friendship, mentorship and collaboration with legendary virtuoso Ravi Shankar.
Pandit Ravi Shankar, from Varnasi, an ancient and holy Indian city, had played with Western artists like John Coltrane prior to his meeting Harrison, though it was his musical collaboration with the Beatles that sent his career soaring, elevating him to cultural ambassador, and introducing classical Indian ragas to the world. He played Woodstock, Monterey and organized the first-ever music fundraiser, held at Madison Square Garden, The Concert for Bangladesh. (The 12/12/12 Benefit Concert for Hurricane Sandy is rightfully part of his legacy, also held at MSG). During his career he played classical Indian music, but also experimented with different genres and collaborated with many artists. His soundtrack for the Apu trilogy by Satyajit Ray is as haunting as are films (see them if you can).
He remained, throughout his life, an electrifying force and powerful presence in world music. Sounds and shifts. Endings, beginnings. A door, closing and transformational. A portal, open and transformational.
Ravi Shankar (1920 – 2012)
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
Cheshire Cat: That depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t care much where…
Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which was you go.
Alice: …So long as I get get somewhere.
Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if you only walk long enough.
Maybe you’ve encountered a rift in the earth. One tectonic plate sinks beneath another. It’s not the kind of ground breaking you had in mind.
Or the way might be flooded and you can’t get through. It’s not the image you had of yourself, rising up from the sea foam like Poseidon, or Aphrodite on the half shell.
Or maybe you are trapped, mesmerized by the reflection of your own image in the floodwater. It’s not what others meant by staying fluid. You might be like poor Echo, pining away watching someone else watch their reflection in the water.
Even simpler, maybe the compass rose has lost its petals and you realize you are traveling in the wrong direction.
Have you ever found yourself lost like this? Are you lost, right now, like this? Does it feel like the intersection of blood and guts? Which way do you go?
Go this way, and it’s the blood of the walking wounded, or the sacrificial lamb. Maybe that lost little lamb is you. Or maybe you will be the one to hurt someone else down the road. It’s the easier path to take. No apologies necessary. Losses cut. The escape route.
Or go that way, with guts – it’s taking the long, winding road. Perseverance. Compassion. All options and consequences considered. A harder path to walk.
None of it’s easy. Free will? It’s a bitch.
Maybe the journey takes us along all of the paths. The road is filled with seekers, navigating blood and guts. May the rose ride up to meet you, may the wind be at your back… We are Whitman wanderers walking towards a glowing inner light*.
(*Don McLean, Homeless Brother. If you aren’t familiar with his work, you should get acquainted – Don McLean)
While walking through Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, I came across this poem written on a window that had been cemented over. Even though it is not English (it’s Italian), it evokes a dark mood, with its sloping black S words on a cement wall. The alliteration creates a snaky hissing sound, and the words seem to reveal dreams with the weight of a serpent, writing, eschewing vanity (smiling monkeys “spit on mirrors”), vulgarity and its slippery steps, slinking and sinking into the night’s moon…and silence. Is this a dream of awakening — an uncoiling spiral of kundalini energy? A anxious, sexual dream filled with innuendo? What significance does this hold for the writer? What compelled him to write his dream on the wall?
I also read author and blogger, Dr. Jean Raffa’s post on the significance of dreams. It’s a exploration in brilliant decoding, explaining the meaning and symbols a particular dream revealed to her. These are the things that propel us towards spirit, their unfolding and synchronicity plug us in to a deeper awareness. But, they require an intimate relationship between our consciousness and our attention. In today’s world, we wade through information overload and a pull towards material possessions. Information is not knowledge. Objects are not symbols. They distracts us from tapping into discovery of the self. In the truth of that discovery, even when it’s painful, we have a better sense of the world and our relationship to it.
Both the wall poetry and Dr. Raffa’s blog reminded me of Paul Simon’s tune, Sound of Silence, with its recounting of a dark and moody dream. The image and symbolism remain with him when he wakes up. The song, written by Simon when he was only 21, is a cautionary tale of how our distraction, apathy and materialism point us in the wrong direction. Lack of awareness is isolating, and ultimately leads to a breakdown in communication. That kind of silence is never golden and a neon sign can never supplant our divine spark.
How about you? Do you focus on symbols, or objects? Are you brave enough to decipher and share share your dreams?
Sing with me, sing for the years,
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears…
Steve Tyler‘s song has always haunted me. How could someone so young instinctively understand the arc of our human life in all of its mystery, and express it with such mature perspective? What? This rambunctious rock and roller?
“I know nobody knows, where it comes and where it goes….” The words takes us into the depth of our mortality; life and time are ephemeral. That wake up call comes to us at a tender age, when we lose a pet, a friend, or a parent: you means this all ends?
The mortal coil winds into our awareness, spiraling around us in our knowing, and, in our not knowing. While we are here, we seek a meaningful experience. We want to make some sense of the mystery. Sunrise, sunset.
Max Frisch said, “Time does not change us, it unfolds us.” Our life lessons are experiential, and they are book taught: they keep us grounded. Our dreams house our spirit, our mythology, our creativity, our divinity. Even in uncertain skies, our dreams teach us to fly.
We are rocking the mortal coil.
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