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

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Self Help The World

 

World Social Forum pic by Velcrow RIpper

 

 

Another world is possible, this very moment, when we choose to live it.  It begins with your very next breath.   Awakening is not something that happens in the future, someday – it happens in this moment, moment to moment.  There is nothing standing in your way, in our way.  When we begin to live another world, today, we will soon discover that new world reflected all around us.   As more and more of us choose an uncompromising life, a life that is truly lived, a life beyond sleep walking, avoidance or the numbing anaesthesia of fear, the more attainable that world is for everyone else.   The field of possibility expands exponentially each time one of us chooses to step up to the plate and  shine.

The real “secret” is not that through  our focussed intention we can get ourselves a new car, a new tv, a new lawnmower, or a new blender. That’s old news, and not very interesting.  Fortunately, since we live in a time of financial uncertainty, there is no correlation between the amount of “stuff” we have and happiness. Studies have proven, this.   Often, in fact, the reverse is true – too much stuff or focus on stuff, causes stress and worry, unhappiness and fear.  What’s worse, a tiny percentage of humanity uses the vast majority of resources, suffering because of our greed.     This is also old news.  But it bears repeating – again, and again and again.   Because we forget, again and again and again.

The truth is, when part of humanity suffers, we all suffer.   If part of me is bleeding, then all of me is bleeding.  If my heart is stuttering, my body is faltering.  We are inextricably linked, part of one vast system of interconnecting systems.   Global events are local events. Climate change, stock market collapses, environmental illness, all strike us, our families, our friends – people we know.  People we are.  It’s not just happening to “them” anymore.  We can no longer avoid the consequences of our imbalanced lives.

 I’m not suggesting we all become ascetics.  I believe we should all have our needs, and our reasonable wants met.     Every person on this planet has a right to good food, clean water, a safe environment, health care and education, at a minimum.  Plus some cool stuff.   There’s enough to go around, if we change our priorities, especially those of us from the wealthier nations.

But first we need to get our priorities straight.  Let’s put that law of attraction to it’s proper use – generating more and more Love in this world.    The real secret is that when we become Love, the world showers that Love right back at us, and around us.   The real secret is that by transforming ourselves, we transform the world.  I call it “self help the world.”  It’s a tremendous win-win situation, a pathway to true, deep, and lasting happiness.

Imagine a World

“Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk.  

Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run.

Obama ran so we could fly.” – JayZ

 

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Imagine a World where each and every one of was committed to discovering who we are truly here to be, committed to unwrapping our gifts, to living from our deepest being.  Imagine a world where we support each other in that quest.  Imagine a world where we see in each other our potential to become – Buddha to be, Gandhi to be, Einstein to be.   Imagine a world where we greet  each other with compassion and an open heart – Dalai Lama to be, Amma to be, Mother Theresa to be.   Imagine a world where we thirst for justice and respect – Mandela to be, Ang San Su Kyii to be, Joan of Arc to be.   Imagine a world where we stand up for the planet as part of who we are – St. Francis to be,  Julia Butterfly to be,  Al Gore to be.   Imagine a world where we dare to be ecstatically different – Rumi to be, Mary Magdalene to be, Wonder Woman to be.   Imagine a world where a black man can become president of the United States of America – Rosa Parks to be, Martin Luther King to be, Barack Obama to be.  

Imagine a world beyond imagined boundaries of race, class,  colour or creed.  Imagine a world where each person reached just a little bit further, towards compassion, sustainability, harmony and creativity. Imagine a world that stretched even further, to the place where ecstasy lives.   Imagine  a world of celebration for life in all it’s joy and all it’s pain. Imagine a world where nothing stands in the way but fear itself.   Imagine a world where fear is just a passing fancy, replaced by unyielding hope, undying trust, indestructible vulnerability.   A  world where everyone and everything that happens to you is part of an extraordinary opportunity to learn and grow and evolve.    Imagine a world that reflected back all the love in your heart, beaming right back at you, blinding you with it’s brilliance. Imagine a world where the extraordinary life you are here to live is here.  Your Fierce Light shining bright.  Imagine if you could start living that life, right now.

You can.  Yes, you can.

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BE YOUR OWN OBAMA!

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As we move closer to the date when Barack Obama steps into power, there is an enormous sense of anticipation.  There are those who are floating on cloud nine, and there are those who are down in the basement of cyncism.   Somewhere in the middle lies a place of hope, possibility, and realism.   Right in the midst, in that liminal zone between rose coloured glasses and dung coloured glasses is a pair of clear lenses that can help us stay the course.

Yes we can!  And yes we will.  It’s up to us, not anyone else, not Obama, not your mama, not Santa Claus.  Change begins first and foremost in your own heart.   This is one of the central principles of Spiritual Activism – one by one, drop by drop, we fill the bucket of change, with our sense of personal responsibility, of heart felt compassion, the kind that comes from a deep authentic impulse.   This means we don’t change because we feel we ought to, because our mother told us so, because it will impress someone (even ourselves), etc.  That kind of transformation is short lived and brittle.

The kind of change that I call “Fierce Light”  comes from getting in touch with who you really are.  This takes some work, cause a lot of what we think we are,  is coming from the outside, from culture, from our history, from our fears and desires.   When you strip all that away, who are you really?

At last weekends Zen retreat with Roshi Enkyo , we did an amazing excercise, which she borrowed from Joanna Macy (who is featured in Fierce Light).   You can try it for yourself if you like.

With a partner, sit facing each other, in a comfortable, sacred space.  One partner begins by asking the question, and the other answers, then you switch.

Take a moment to get centered and calm.   Look into each others eyes.  Sometimes the hardest part!!!  If it’s easier, you can wear a pirate patch and just look into one eye.  Just kidding.  Try to keep your gaze soft and unintrusive, and try to maintain eye contact throughout the excercise.

Become aware of your breathing.  

Partner one asks: “Who are you?”

Partner two answers with whatever pops up.  Try to be spontaneous, loose, not premeditated, clever or right.  Simply speak whatever comes out.

Partner one responds, “Thank you.  Who are you?”

This continues for five minutes.  Then take a few moments to reflect on all the possible answers that emerged, before switching roles.

It’s a powerful, simple practice, that flipped my lid.  I was everything from a slug to the planet to the person in front of me, to a brother, son, soul, cell, spiral nebulae and so many other things.  Amazing all of who I am. Some of them not so pretty. Some of them incredibly beautiful.  Some of them just plain silly.

I asked another Zen master I met in Boulder recently, Junpo Roshi, what he thinks spirituality is.  He said, “Embodied Compassion.”    To him, that is the core of it all.   What are we here on this planet to do?  Embody compassion.  Who are we?  Compassion on two legs.

There’s a different answer to what that might look like for everyone. But if we all were to step up to the plate, and start moving through the world from a heart centered place, grounded in real compassionate action, we would begin to see the fruits of this massive spirit of possibility which the world is feeling right now.  Right in the midst of this spirit of crisis, enormous flowers of change are blooming.   And that’s an exciting place to be – in the midst.

So who are you?  And how do you embody compassion?

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HOPE ON A TIGHTROPE

* Cornel West on the Election of Barack Obama: “I Hope He Is a Progressive Lincoln, I Aspire to Be the Frederick Douglass to Put Pressure on Him” *

Princeton University professor of religion and African American studies, Cornel West, speaks about the election of Barack Obama, his selection of Eric Holder to be Attorney General, the possible selection of Lawrence Summers to be Treasury Secretary and the role of the progressive left to push Obama. West is the author of the new book Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom.

Listen/Watch/Read
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/19/cornel_west_on_the_election_of

 

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 OBAMA’S UNYIELDING HOPE

“Unyielding hope” – Obama is a meliorist (even if he, knowledgeable as he is, may have to look that word up).  The meliorist is the one who holds dear the conviction that we can, through our own efforts, make better lives for our selves.  The meliorist is neither the pessimist who sees gloom nor the optimist who sees brightness as automatically given.  Betterment is our doing, our energy, our achievement: so says the meliorist.  That Obama is a meliorist makes him a pragmatist and an American of the best variety our history has to offer.” – REQIEUM FOR CERTAINTY BLOG 

The Fierce Fire of Radical Authenticity

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“All of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout from the heart—perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakable public example—but authenticity always and absolutely carries a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacent. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you.” – Ken Wilber

Radical authenticity – isn’t it time?   Last night at the Fierce Light workshop I led in Toronto, there was a buzzing in the air.  Change is afoot, magic is alive, in the midst of the tremendous uncertainty of this era, in the wake of the Obama phenomena, we are experiencing a downpour of possibility.   This is a time when things are getting better and better, and worse and worse, faster and faster. The change we need, as Obama repeatedly says, is not going to come from one leader. It’s going to come from us all. And it starts inside the human heart, not in the head.  We of course want to utilize these great weighty brains evolution has given us, but as an adjunct to our true source of wisdom, a soul level wisdom.  We stand on the threshold of a new era, an era in which each and everyone of us is called to our highest Self, our True Self.  Why settle for less?

Andrew Cohen teaches that if we can get to a place where we operate from what he calls the “Authentic Self” for 51% of the time, we no longer need to apply will power. It will just maintain itself, without continual effort.  Awakening is tangible, real and possible. Not a pie in sky ideal.  It happens right now, this very moment.  You don’t need to wait until you have succeeded in annihalating the ego.  For most of us, that ain’t gonna happen anyways.  So more realistically, all you have to do is choose to align yourself with your highest impulses, and disobey the cavetching fear mongering smalling of the ego.   Not that this is an easy thing to do – in fact, it’s nothing less than heroic.  But I believe we can do it – we can all become what Redvolution co-director Sera Beak calls a  “Spiritual Super Hero.”

I asked the room last night if people were familiar with the difference between the ego and the true self, if they noticed a distinction, if they were aware of this fracture.  Most said yes.  Then I asked, what percentage of the time are you operating from that True Self.  100 % of the time?  No one raised their hands.  70%?  50%?  40%?  20%? 5%?   The numbers were pretty low.  Not surprsing, given our enculturation, the teachings that the media and society instill in us of  fear, contraction, and a sense of lack.   We’re always lacking something.  The answers the corporations offer is – fill that lack with stuff.   

In the wake of economic uncertainty, those materialistic solutions are less and less appealing.  So where to do you turn?  Where do you find meaning?   What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Obama’s Fierce Light

Here’s a moving video clip with Congressman John Lewis, speaking on election night.  Congressman Lewis is featured in my new feature documentary on spiritual activism, Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action.  He is the last surviving speaker from the March on Washington, during the American Civil Rights movement, and lead the historic march across the Selma bridge.  Today, that dream of Martin Luther King Jr, of Congressman John Lewis, of millions and millions of compassionate souls, has taken a great leap forward.

From the perspective of spiritual activism, of the stories behind Fierce Light, the election of Barack Obama is a powerful, powerful affirmation that the zeitgeist we set out to capture in the film, is very very real, one that is being felt around the world, and one that is reflected on this historic occasion.   A man who stands for authenticity, internationalism, equality, compassion, hope and integrity, has been chosen by the american people, over the old paradigm of spin, manipulation and a politics that speaks to fear and hatred.  It is a huge step forward, and a show of true democracy.  In the midst of so much crisis, ecological, financial, and humanitarian, a new source of hope has emerged.

Yep. Yes. Yessss. We can! We did! We will!

I’m in New York City, on election day, and the count down has begun. What will happen? The polls give Obama a lead, but no one here is taking anything for granted. Will small mindedness and fear, the lowest common dominater power of the collective ego, win the day, once again? Or will hope and the possibility of real change finally get it’s chance to revitalize the American political landscape? The global political landscape?

If he makes it in, then I think we will finally see authentic leadership in action. As much as he’s had to placate the American penchant for war mongering and sabre rattling, I believe that once the dude has got the reins, he will tap into something we all hunger for: authenticity….

Come on people! Take a chance on change!!!!

As we drive through Times Square the count down has begun. For some reason, the famous “Naked Cowboy” is up on the podium with his guitar in front of the CNN news monitors, as the results slowly come in we wait with bated breath…

I am praying….

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256 facebook status updates…variations on this theme:

Velcrow is thrilled, moved, misty eyed, and ecstatic that Obama is in! A ferocious yes we can!!!!

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“Today we become the nation we dream of being, a place where everyone can rise to the level of their true worth, with no false barriers. Today truth triumphs over lies, hope over fear. Today we become the people who can do the great things that are needed to restore health and balance and abundance for all. Today we take the dream and make it real.” –Starhawk