EVOLVE LOVE STORY 1

EVOLVE LOVE STORY ONE
I’m thrilled to release the first in a series of short “Evolve Love Stories” we will be releasing over the next few years, throughout the production of EVOLVE LOVE. This first one features the wonderful Nnimmo Bassey of Friends of the Earth International at the World People’s Summit on Climate Change, in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Gaviotas: Village of Hope by Seth Biderman and Christian Casillas

One of the locations we are considering for my upcoming feature documentary, EVOLVE LOVE: The Meaning IS Life is the eco village of Gaviotas, in Colombia. EVOLVE LOVE asks the question: how could the climate crisis become the greatest love story on earth? This article from the inimitable YES! Magazine chronicles a recent journey to this remote eco-shangri la.

Gaviotas: Village of Hope by Seth Biderman and Christian Casillas.

Krishnamurti On Love and Meditation

Thanks Alan Muskat for bringing this lovely excerpt from the work of Krishnamurti to my attention…

“In the space which thought creates around itself, there is no love. This space divides man from man, and in it is all the becoming, the battle of life, the agony and fear. Meditation is the ending of this space, the ending of the me. Then relationship has quite a different meaning, for in that space which is not made by thought, the other does not exist, for you do not exist.

Meditation then is not the pursuit of some vision, however sanctified by tradition. Rather it is the endless space where thought cannot enter. To us, the little space made by thought around itself, which is the me, is extremely important, for this is all the mind knows, identifying itself with everything that is in that space. 

And the fear of not being is born in that space. But in meditation, when this is understood, the mind can enter into a dimension of space where action is inaction. We do not know what love is, for in the space made by thought around itself as the me, love is the conflict of the me and the not-me. This conflict, this torture, is not love.

Thought is the very denial of love, and it cannot enter into that space where the me is not. In that space is the benediction which man seeks and cannot find. He seeks it within the frontiers of thought, and thought destroys the ecstasy of this benediction…

If you set out to meditate, it will not be meditation. If you set out to be good, goodness will never flower. If you cultivate humility, it ceases to be. Meditation is the breeze that comes in when you leave the window open; but if you deliberately keep it open, deliberately invite it to come, it will never appear…

It had rained heavily during the night and the day, and down the gullies the muddy stream poured into the sea, churning it chocolate-brown. As you walked on the beach the waves broke with magnificent force. You walked against the wind, and suddenly there was nothing between you and the sky, and this openness was heaven. And that evening, walking there on that wet sand, with the seagulls around you, you felt the open freedom and the beauty of love that was not in you or outside you but everywhere. You felt this suddenly, like a great wind that swept through you and over the land. There you were denuded of everything, empty and utterly open. The beauty of it was not in the word or in the feeling, but everywhere about you, inside you, over the waters and in the hills…

After the rains the hills were splendid. Still brown from the summer sun, and now all the green things would return. It had rained all night and the beauty was indescribable. The sky was still cloudy and in the air was the smell of sumac, sage and eucalyptus. It was splendid to be among them, and a strange stillness possessed you. Unlike the sea far below, the hills were completely still, and your mind too was washed empty. All through the night it pursued you, love’s stillness, and when you woke, long before the sun, it was still there in your heart, with its incredible joy, for no reason whatsoever. It was there, causeless, and it would be there, all through the day, without your ever asking or inviting it to stay.”

Krishnamurti, Meditations 1969

NEW YEARS EVOLUTION

Happy New Years!

I love this transition time – it’s a great time to shed old snake skins, and move into new possibilities. A great time to renew commitments and abandon the ones that no longer fit. A great time for looking back, with gratitude, on the past year. My dear friend Carly Stasko loves to ask herself: what are the three things I am grateful for today? She does this at meal times, but on New Years, she looks back over the year and asks – what are the three big things I’m grateful for this year? We shared this practice at a dinner party together this week, and it was very moving.

Don’t tell Carly, but after she left we did a round of complaints – just one each. That was kind of satisfying in a different way, but left me feeling like I had eaten too much MSG or greasy foods or something. :)

May your coming year be blessed, blissed, and rampant with possibilities, transformation, and joy. And may you have the wisdom to catch those curveballs the universe throws us on occasion, hold them as long as need be, then throw them right back, with glee.

It’s also that time of year when we’re supposed to be making a bunch of New Years resolutions that we’re never going to keep and that are just going to make us feel bad about ourselves for the next year. 
 
Well my first New Years Evolution is to stop feeling bad about myself for any of my shortcomings – just let that go.   But first I have to do a very un-male thing and accept that I actually have a shortcoming or two.  Let me have a peek….yikes!  I do.  I gots some. Damn.  So much for that mask of rigid perfection I thought I had to wear.  

Hey – its actually kind of relaxing to drop that.  Let’s you breathe a little easier.  So- I herby accept my weak spots, I hereby see my blind spots, I hereby love my broken bits.  I  accept them, love them, and love myself.   It’s okay ego – you aren’t perfect.  You got spots.  You got dots.  You got some work to do.

So my next New Years Evolution is to shine a light into my shadows, light a torch into my unconscious,  and see all of me, the dark and the light, the good, the bad and the ugly, and allow myself the room to grow.   I hereby renew my fierce commitment to evolution.   Spiritual evolution.   

 I renew my commitment to moving from a place of Love – and letting that Love come from the deepest well of my being, from a place of absolute freedom – freedom for myself, and freedom for everyone who comes into my path.  

I want to give from my heart, and receive with my heart.

I want to continually ignite in myself a lived understanding of the true masculine, the loving masculine, the giving masculine, the healing masculine, the empowering, powerful, free, connected and spacious masculine. Free me from Glen Beck, George Bush and Osama Bin Laden as male role models.

I want to become aware of my power – stepping into my true power that never needs another’s power, or needs to power over another.

I ask to be free from the hypnotizing lies of domination and destruction, of fear and manipulation,  so we can reclaim our souls, our selves, our lives and our planet and walk again in creativity and wonder, in collaboration and delight, in hope and inspiration,  thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for this incredible world.

 
This Space Free.
 
 I commit to inspiring and awakening the highest truth in myself and those that care to join in, to being a solar powered bio fueled love bug bringing light and wonder to this world of turmoil and transformation.  

I commit to stop using the phrase “in this world of turmoil and transformation” all the time.

I commit to clearing, and re-clearing, to creating true spaciousness so I can to allow the divine in, moment by moment, day by day, year by year. I commit to serving with all my power, from a place of loving power, helping to be a source of radiance in this world of turmoil and… (damn! I almost broke that one already.)

I commit to loosening up, to laughing a lot more, to not making so many commitments all the time, especially on New Years, when it’s such an obvious thing to do, instead to cover it all in one foul swoop and say:  I commit to coming from the deepest place of authenticity I possibly can, at all times, and when I forget and my ego takes over, to bouncing back as soon as I notice, or until someone I love tells me to wake the f~ck up.  I commit to saying, “thank you” when they do, unless it gets over the top and too damn much in which case, in the interests of self love, I commit to walking away, with my heart full of love, from any situation, relationship or scenario which is just not good for me.

I commit to opening my heart wide, to being truly spacious, to letting go, to not holding on, to not taking, to not grasping, to not clinging, to allowing what is to be, and what isn’t to not be, to allowing what wants to be to manifest without trying to outthink, double think, or triple think the divine, to getting out of my own way so the universe can do it’s part, to doing my part, to loving the process, to seeing it all as a process, to not obsessing on the goal, to lighting my bonfire and burning down the house, till there’s nothing left but love and ashes, and building it all up, over and over again, each beautiful castle nothing more than a glittering wedding cake to the divine, offered with love to the whole party, no guest list needed, with fearless surrender and profound willfulness, secure in the knowledge that all is good, all is good, all is good.   

I swear I’m not just making idle promises here, but really laying it on the line – the time has come to let loose the full potential that I was gifted with here on this earth, to really live it, to dare to stare into the sun with my eyes glowing fierce and uninhibited and reverently irreverent, fearless and truthful, joyous and mournful, tasting the agonizing ecstasy that is life on earth with every pore of my body, mind and spirit sizzling, sizzling, sizzling.   Let nothing stop me, not even the cynics and the killjoys who would piss on my parade, not the gatekeepers who have locked their own  gates, not the gates I myself have locked, let me blow up them all to smithereens with divine inspiration, smash down the old altars, tear down the walls, gleefully, lovingly, unstoppable.  Sizzling, sizzling, sizzling.

~Velcrow Ripper, New Years 2010

(Updated – first released in 2009)

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Few phrases are more powerful, more freeing, more transformative than those two simple words – Thank You. Try using these words with someone you are having a conflict with. Whether you speak it to yourself or to the person, it will have a powerful effect.

I was recently in a conflict with a dear friend. One of the speakers from the Living in the Fire of Change conference, the wonderful Mary Tidlun of the Tidlun Foundation, gave me a Mala – a set of prayer beads – and explained that they were “gratitude beads”, hand made and given to her as a gesture of thanks from a group of women in Kathmandu who had been recipients of her activist work. She in turn passed them on to me, with the suggestion – “do a round of thank-you’s on these beads for all your friend has given you, send thanks for the gifts you are receiving in this conflict, for what it is teaching your soul.”

And so I did. The effect was tremendously powerful. It helped me move from a place of contraction, to a place of expansion. From a place of the armoured heart, to a place of appreciation and deep compassion.

Today I find myself constantly doing rounds of “thank you’s” on the beads, for different people and situations, as a regular part of my contemplative practice. It awakens my true heart, and frees me from isolation, from fear, from closing down. Being grateful can be tough – you don’t get to hide behind the victim role. But who really wants to be a victim anyways? Just your ego, which relishes the job. Surely we can do better than that!

Making up my own prayer of thanks has been a powerful tool for me. It changes to meet the needs of the day, but there is always something or someone to thank. Especially those who make life – shall we say – interesting.

You could try it yourself: find a set of prayer beads, and using your thumb and fingers, count through each bead, pausing to say “thank you” as they move through your fingers. Direct your gratitude to whoever or whatever feels right at the moment.

Mala’s – or prayer beads – are available in any spiritual store. Or you can order them on-line at places like The Dharma Shop.

GRATITUDE PRAYER

Here is a gratitude prayer by Native Elder Seqouyah Trueblood, a new friend and companion on the path, which I filmed recently at the Living in the Fire of Change Conference. You can listen to this as a meditation, as part of a morning or evening ritual, or at any time. Take these words to heart, and carry them with you. You could use his words as an inspiration to create your own gratitude prayer. Any sentence that begins with the words “Thank-you” has the power to become a sacred prayer.

LIVING IN THE FIRE OF CHANGE
CONFERENCE ON SACRED ACTIVISM AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION

http://www.livinginthefireofchange.com

MORE GRATITUDE RESOURCES:

DAILY GRATITUDE:

http://www.dailygratitude.com/

GLOBAL GRATITUDE:

http://www.worldgratitude.com/

GRATITUDE AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE:

http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/practices/practices.php?id=11

__________________________

Obama on the Death of Senator Ted Kennedy

I just got this email from President Obama – he drops me a note on occasion (well, I’m on his mailing list :) – on the loss of Ted Kennedy. What a legacy that Kennedy family has left us.

Velcrow — Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy. For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives — in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education’s promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me. In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that’s one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy. I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I’ve benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom. His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we’ve all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today — to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family. Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still. Sincerely, President Barack Obama

What is a Spiritual Progressive?

Fierce Light Visionary Van Jones speaking at the founding conference of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

WHAT IS A SPIRITUAL PROGRESSIVE?

The Network of Spiritual Progressives, co-chaired by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Dr. Cornel West, and Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister seeks to promote a spiritual progressive agenda. Below is their explanation of what a spiritual progressive politics is:

We in the NSP (Network of Spiritual Progressives) use the word “spiritual” to include all those whose deepest values lead them to challenge the ethos of selfishness and materialism that has led people into a frantic search for money and power and away from a life that places love, kindness, generosity, peace, non-violence, social justice, awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation, thanksgiving, humility and joy at the center of our lives.

So we include in our meaning of “spiritual” all dimensions of life that cannot fit into a scientistic or narrowly empiricist frame. We reject the notion that all that is real or all that can be known is that which can be subject to emprirical justifiction or can be measured. On the contrary, we know that love, kindngess, generosity, awe and wonder, art, ethics, and music are just some of the obvious parts of life that cannot be understood or adequately captured by scientism and which we value. We call those aspects spiritual. So it’s easy to understand that someone can be spiritual and yet not be particularly interested in most existing conceptions of God or religion. Of course, there are many others, including some of the founders and leaders of the NSP (but not by any means all of them) who do find their spiritual nourishment in their relationship to God or their religious tradition, and they too are part of our community.

But there is a huge problem when social change movements stay away from anything that calls itself spiritual.

We believe that many of the secular movements that exist in the world today actually have deep spiritual underpinnings, but often they are themselves unaware of those foundations, unable or unwilling to articulate them and sometimes even holding a knee-jerk antagonism to explicit spiritual or religious language. This antagonism limits their effectiveness, though it derives from legitimate anger at the way that the language of spirituality and religion has been sometimes used to justify war, oppression, sexism, racism, homophobia, ecological indifference, or insensitivity to the suffering of the poor and the homeless of the world.

Solidarity means that we affirm our responsibility towards each other within our families, within our nation, and within our spiritual/religious community–and also beyond the narrow boundaries of ethnicity, religion, and geography.

We affirm the obligation to actively resist injustice and refuse to take part in it even when we can’t prove that our resistance will produce change. In solidarity with the oppressed, we wish to see the democratization of economic and political institutions and a redistribution of wealth so that all people can share equally and sustainably in the benefits of the planet.

At the same time, we will challenge the lack of a spiritual dimension in the agendas of our allies in progressive social change movements. That gap has allowed the Right to present itself as the force that cares about spiritual issues. And the Left’s failure to address spirituality has led many to believe their hunger for a larger framework of meaning and purpose must be separated from their involvement with social transformation.

Social change activity gets focused on a narrow political agenda that lacks the depth that can inspire sustained commitment or nourishing involvement. Imagine an international group of people who would see themselves as allies to each other in advancing this way of thinking, people who are unashamedly utopian and willing to fight for their highest ideals, yet unashamedly humble in knowing that we don’t know all that we need to know to do the healing that needs to be done.

Imagine that this group would help each other in our individual as well as group activities, affirming what is good and brainstorming with us about how to create a movement that gives equal priority to our inner lives and to social justice, that takes loving and caring as serious goals for social healing, and that rejects the utilitarian and materialistic assumptions of the contemporary world and actively fosters awe and wonder in its participants. Imagine that you could be part of creating that.

Industrial Strength Spirituality

GUY DIXON
From Friday’s Globe and Mail
May 14, 2009 at 4:34 PM EDT

If rockers were the cultural gurus of the sixties, and techies like Steve Jobs and Nicholas Negroponte were the nineties’ watered-down version, documentary filmmakers may very well be emerging as the new prognosticators of where we’re headed.

Velcrow Ripper, the 45-year-old filmmaker with the part-punk, part-New Age pseudonym who lives on the Toronto Islands, is a clear example. His widely praised 2004 documentary Scared Sacred, a tour of war-devastated lands, was intended to be less a documentary and more of a meditative piece and call to arms.

And so is his second film in a planned trilogy – Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action. The new film takes Scared Sacred a step further by trying to get at the motivation for activism, examining how inward-focused spirituality can compel people to act outwardly, protesting against injustice and environmental degradation.

While filming Scared Sacred, Ripper found that what got people through horrific, wartime tragedy was a sense of personal meaning. “I witnessed it firsthand. Those who had a sense of meaning, whatever it was that gave them that, were the ones who survived. Those without any meaning were the ones who gave up,” he says.

“One of those sources of meaning was to take action, to actually try to stop what had happened to them from happening to anybody else. And I began to realize that the relationship between sources of meaning – a depth of understanding in one’s inner life – and taking action to create change is a really harmonious thing. The spirit and the action, they go together really well. In fact, they are meant to go together.”

This kind of talk has made Ripper the doc community’s version of a star. He gives lectures and conducts workshops to share his vision of spiritually conscious activism. Still, he rejects the idea that Fierce Light simply preaches to the choir. Instead, he deliberately lets emotions run high in the film to move audiences – even if not everyone agrees with its political assumptions.

“The theme of Fierce Light is about coming from the heart, as well as the head. It’s going to be unsatisfying if you go to it looking for facts, facts, facts. The reason I did that is because the film is about soul force … what I call almost an industrial-strength spirituality.”

Yet Fierce Light doesn’t aim for a kind of Chicken Soup for the Soul self-help airiness, nor does it reach transcendence like the 1979 documentary masterpiece Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy. Fierce Light never strays from its street-level, activist core.

The filmmaker grew up on British Columbia’s idyllic Sunshine Coast and was raised in the Baha’i faith, which is based on the spiritual unity of all religions.

But even that was too confining for him. As a young punk rocker, he felt torn between spirituality and activism. At a hippie gathering, surrounded by kids called Feather and Crystal, someone gave him the nickname Velcrow, with an added “w” to lend a measure of mystique. (Velcrow’s friends know him as Crow.)

“As I went along, it became clear in many activist circles that you had to stay in the closet as a spiritual person,” Ripper says. “Spirituality wasn’t something that was part of the picture. There had been a real rejection of religion because of fundamentalism and the human-rights abuses done in the name of religion.”

However, something new is afoot, his films argue, and that’s what Ripper is becoming a figurehead for: It’s the interest, building for years now, among those on the left – an acknowledgment that spirituality seems to be at the heart of activism.

As Ripper adds: “My Facebook profile has a quote from Antony Hegarty, the New York musician, that says, ‘Hope and sincerity are the new punk.’”

Shambhala Sun On Fierce Light

Fierce Light: An Interview with Filmmaker Velcrow Ripper
By Elena Johnson

What do the American civil rights movement, an exiled monk’s return visit to Vietnam, and a community of people trying to save an urban farm in L.A. have in common? According to Canadian documentary film-maker Velcrow Ripper, they are all examples of what he calls spiritual activism, and they are just a few of the inspiring stories featured in his latest film, Fierce Light.

“Spiritual activism,” Ripper explains in a recent phone interview from his Toronto home, “comes from the heart. It’s beyond polarity. It’s coming from a place of compassion, of hope. It’s based on what we are for, rather than what we are against. It’s what Ghandi called soul force, and what Martin Luther King called love in action.”

He says, “I wanted to find that hope in the world, to interview the people that were doing that work – activism with a spiritual basis, a sense of interconnectedness.”

Fierce Light includes interviews with former civil rights movement leader John Lewis, exiled Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, Dalit lawyer/activist Leela Kumari, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, eco-philosopher and Buddhism scholar Joanna Macy, and actor/eco-activist Daryl Hannah, among others.

The film also documents several political actions in progress, such as the movement to save the largest urban farm in North America from impending demolition, the yearly protest at the controversial U.S. military training institution once known as the School of the Americas, and the efforts of a group of two thousand Hyderabad Dalits to resist violence and oppression, as well as Thich Nhat Hanh’s second return visit to Vietnam after 40 years of exile.

I first heard about Fierce Light during the Vancouver International Film Festival in October, and decided to attend the world premiere. The film went on to garner the NFB Most Popular Canadian Documentary Award and a Special Mention for the Nonfiction Feature Film Award at the festival, and has now been screened at several international film festivals. It will be released to theatres in May.

Ripper feels that in making the film he was tapping into a zeitgeist. In fact, he says that spiritual activism has been called the largest political movement in history. During his research for the film, he interviewed Paul Hawkins, author of Blessed Unrest, a book that examines hope within the worldwide movement for social and environmental change. Hawkins calls spiritual activism “the movement of movements” and describes it as “humanity’s immune response to a world in crisis.” He has compiled a list of organizations engaged in some form of spiritual activism, and his total is now well over a million.
Ripper is no newcomer to documentary film-making or to world travel. He has directed or done sound work for 28 other films, and made his first documentary, Iran: the Crisis, in 1979 at the age of 16. His recent films are characterized by a narrative style and by his deeply personal approach – engaging with a question that concerns him, and seeking the answer.
“The term ‘fierce light’,” he explains, “plays with the collision between seeming opposites. The title is like a Zen koan that I slowly unpack… Where is the fierceness, within the light?”

Ripper used to describe himself as a Sufi-Buddhist-Bahai-punk-rocker, but says he’ll never belong to one particular tradition. However, his most consistent teacher is Zen Buddhist Roshi Enkyo O’Hara, based in New York city, and he says his life is deeply informed by Buddhism.

I ask him if Buddhist principles such as non-harm and compassion are common characteristics of the movements profiled in Fierce Light. While he describes the film as “inter-spiritual” in scope, he acknowledges that compassion and non-violence are clearly at the heart of the political actions in the film.

“The American civil rights movement is a profound example of this – standing up with love in your heart, and protesting violence with non-violence. The powers that be didn’t know how to deal with this. The idea of responding to love and non-violence with violence was very unsettling.

“Another central concept,” he says, “is the idea of interconnection – or interbeing – which is similar to the Ubuntu theology that Desmond Tutu speaks about.”

Tutu, a Nobel Laureate and a former leader in South Africa’s struggle against Apartheid, says that Ubuntu means that one person’s humanness is intertwined with another person’s humanness. “What dehumanizes you,” he explains in the film, “inexorably dehumanizes me. And what elevates you, elevates me.”

Ripper also traveled with Thich Nhat Hanh and members of his sangha on their second return-trip to Vietnam. Their intent was to conduct a series of healing ceremonies to heal the wounds of war and to offer teachings and retreats. I’m curious about the effect this experience had on Ripper.

“Thich Nhat Hanh is such an embodiment of fierce light,” he says. “He is the most peaceful and gentle man you’ll ever meet. And yet he is fierce – he has a sword that will cut through ignorance and illusion, and that’s what he’s here to do. His style of Buddhism is completely connected to humanity and the earth; it’s not about transcendence. He’s the person who really coined the term ‘engaged Buddhism.’”

Ripper also notes that this experience influenced his style of filming. He says that, for him, cinematography always involves being in the moment, trying to connect to the beauty that’s around him, and trying to pass that on to others through the film itself. But when he was filming the monks and nuns, he says, he was especially aware of being focused on the present and on walking mindfully, for example, rather than rushing from shot to shot.

“There’s actually a quality of documentary film-making that requires stepping into the present,” he says, “and letting go of preconceptions – allowing images to unfold, without clinging or grasping. It’s very much like a Buddhist approach.”

When I saw Fierce Light, I was particularly struck by a motif that recurs throughout the film: a person with their eyes closed, as if in meditation, opens their eyes and smiles widely. When I ask Ripper about the intention behind this, he explains, “All over the world, almost everywhere I went, I asked people – strangers – to close their eyes, and when they opened them to look straight at the camera and imagine that they were looking at the most beautiful thing they could ever imagine. These people, in the film, they’re looking out at the audience with this love in their eyes.” His intention, he says, was for the audience to feel they were being looked upon with love.

“But this action, of the eyes opening, can be interpreted differently by each person who sees the film,” he admits. He says it could be interpreted as a call to action – to get up off the meditation cushion and put your beliefs into practice. It could also be felt as the opposite – to take some time out from your activism and sit down on the cushion.

“We need that deep inner knowing,” he explains. “We need that meditative centre. That’s what gives us the strength and the soul to deal with the world in crisis. But we also need to be active and get out in the world and make the change.”
He says he hopes the film itself can provide an experience of awakening for people. “I hope that it breaks people’s hearts open, but in a way that opens us to change, a way that gives us a sense of hope, possibility and inspiration, as well as a sense of urgency.”
Ripper’s current favourite quote is “Hope and sincerity are the new punk.” That’s from Antony Haggard, lead singer of New York City band Antony and the Johnsons.
“It’s not so uncool anymore to be sincere and hopeful,” says Ripper. “The days of post-modern irony – the snark effect of the 90s – that’s withering.”
He adds, “This is going to be more than a movement. I think it’s the leading edge of a global shift in consciousness.”
* * *
Fierce Light will be released to theatres this month and to DVD in September. For more information, see http://www.fiercelight.org.

New Fierce Light Clip!

Here’s a new clip from Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, my new documentary on spiritual activsm. It’s opening in theatres across Canada starting May 15th!
This piece focusses one of the film’s themes: that both spirituality, and activism, can take place in our everyday lives, at any moment. In fact, why not in every moment?

It features bell hooks, a brilliant visionary, cultural theorist, and Buddhist thinker.   bell hooks has long been an inspiration for me. Her book “All About Love” has been hands down the most important book I have ever read about relationships – both societal and intimate. She is a mover between the worlds of critical thinking, spirituality and activism, a synthesizer of ideas who, in the face of immense resistance from  academia, is not afraid to say the word “love” out loud.  When we met  in her home in a small town in Kentucky she was gardening in her backyard. To sit in her presence was to bathe in radiance.

 

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