Ram Dass wrote a letter some years ago to a family who had lost their young daughter, Rachel. Although he wrote it to these two parents specifically, everything in this letter applies to anyone who has lost a child.
Dear Steve and Anita,
Rachel finished her work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and peace amidst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror and desolation.
I can’t assuage your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is Rachel’s legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.
Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to Rachel, and thank her for being with you these few years, and encourage her to go on with whatever her work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience. In my heart, I know that you and she will meet again and again, and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was.
Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts – if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which includes her manner of death. Now her soul is free, and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space.
The Gender Equity and Reconciliation process seeks to heal the profound wounds around gender, sexuality, and relational intimacy. It brings together people of all sexual orientations and genders to jointly confront gender disharmony to reach healing reconciliation. Will and Cynthia have developed the method over 26 years, introducing the practices in nine countries.
Gender reconciliation’s startling successes in South Africa have played a role in transforming that country’s AIDS and HIV policies, and exciting new academic research on the program is underway at two South African universities. Learn more about the work of Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix via their organization, Gender Reconciliation International.
Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix with Bishop Desmond Tutu
This powerful presentation is well worth pausing for.
Valarie Kaur – Activist, lawyer, filmmaker
Valarie Kaur is a social justice activist, lawyer, filmmaker, innovator, mother and Sikh American thought leader who founded the Revolutionary Love Project — a movement that envisions a world where love is a public ethic.
Why you should listen
Valarie Kaur is a civil rights activist, award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, faith leader and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. Her social justice campaigns have helped win policy change on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, marriage equality and internet freedom. She founded Groundswell Movement, the Yale Visual Law Project and Faithful Internet, initiatives that equip new generations with tools for social change. During her work inside supermax prisons, on the military base at Guantanamo and at sites of mass shootings, she identified a surprising key element for social change: the ethic of love. She now leads the Revolutionary Love Project to champion love as a public ethic and wellspring for social change.
Kaur earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School and Yale Law School. She lives with her film partner and husband Sharat Raju and son Kavi in California, where her family settled as farmers a century ago. She is a member of the California Bar.
This 30-minute talk is thought-provoking and worth pausing to watch.
Does a socially just society require a radical feminist overhaul of dominant patriarchal structures? Dr. Robert Jensenis a professor of journalism at The University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of many books, and he writes opinions and analytics on foreign policy, politics, and race for popular media. His work has appeared in papers and magazines across the United States.
Babbitt (1922), by Sinclair Lewis, is a satirical novel about American culture and society that critiques the vacuity of middle-class life and the social pressure toward conformity.
The word “Babbitt” entered the English language as a “person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards”.
Great advice from Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
Claude Bristol is a name not often heard these days, yet his message on the power of believing is timeless and draws on the teachings of Buddha, Jesus, Phineas P. Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others.
The Magic of Believing (1948) – Claude M Bristol
For a two year period, I was church editor of a large metropolitan newspaper, during which I came in close contact with clergymen and leaders of all sects and denominations, mind-healers, divine healers, Spiritualists, Christian Scientists, New Thoughters, Unity leaders, sun and idol worshipers – and, yes, even a few infidels and pagans…
I have read literally thousands of books on modern psychology, metaphysics, ancient magic, Voodoo, Yoga, Theosophy, Christian Science, Unity, Truth, New Thought, Coueism, and many others dealing with what I call “Mind Stuff,” as well as the philosophies and teachings of great masters of the past.
Much has been written and said about mystical powers, unknown forces, the occult, metaphysics (beyond science), mental physics, psychology (the science of mind), black and white magic, and many kindred subjects, causing most people to believe that they are in the field of the supernatural. Perhaps they are for some. But to me, the only inexplicable thing about these powers is that belief makes them work…
Claude Bristol was a hard-headed journalist for several years, including stints as a police reporter and as church editor of a large city newspaper. In this post, he met people from every denomination and sect and later read hundreds of books on psychology, religion, science, metaphysics and ancient magic. Gradually, Bristol began to see the ‘golden thread’ which runs through all religions and esoteric teachings: that belief itself has amazing powers.
Having spent years thinking about the power of thought, he had assumed others knew something about it too. He was wrong. Strangely, he found that most people go through life without realizing the effect that strong belief can have on reaching their goals – they leave their desires vague and so they get vague outcomes… (continued)
More on Claude Bristol – The Magic of Believing was written, he says, for ex-servicemen and women who would have to adjust to civilian life and try to prosper in it. It was published when he was in his 50’s and followed the success of a small book he published in 1932 entitled T.N.T. – It Rocks the Earth… (continued)
“It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects.” – Nikola Tesla.