We’ve been star gazers since the beginning of time. Our ancestors found wisdom, mystery, awe and guidance in the stars.
I was in Haiti three years ago, and there is no money waste there - no energy to waste. I still get chills all over my body as I remember gazing up up at the skies and seeing the Milky Way stretched out before me. And her we were, our pale blue dot, floating in this ocean of stars.
When we become able to take on a cosmic view, when our bodies can understand the radical uniqueness of this sphere called earth, floating in an ocean of space, we might finally be able to do what it takes to save it and ourselves.
I have seen it over and over again. Activists and organizers are rallied by anger, find a positive expression for it, and eventually get stuck trying to live a life for justice that is fueled by it. It becomes depleting. The opposite of life giving. That’s the biggest problem with anger, that it is not a sustainable fuel… READ MORE ON THE #IISC BLOG
It’s the spring equinox! “One of two times of the year when when the plane of Earth’s equator passes the center of the Sun. At this time the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun.”
Powerful transition into Spring - what is it that has been gestating within you? What will you bring into being?
“Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female being, refusing to privilege one over the other. The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys. Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion. Males cannot love themselves in patriarchal culture if their very self-definition relies on submission to patriarchal rules. When men embrace feminist thinking and practice, which emphasizes the value of mutual growth and self-actualization in all relationships, their emotional well-being will be enhanced. A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving.”
― Bell Hooks
Powerful to be here in India today, I’ve had a chance to glimpse into the national dialogue spurred by recent events.
Yesterday, here in Vieques, we reached a successful a beautiful conclusion to an often intense three-year process with the Barr Fellows. This morning I’m off to India!
I have no way to prove it, but it is quite possible that I’m the first person ever to make the trip from Vieques to Varanasi. Here are a few words about my destination:
"Varanasi is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India.Varanasi is also known as the favorite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva" -Wikipedia
"Slowing down is not about having a chilled out life. Slowing down is about becoming more effective in our evolutionary project. Slowing down is about tapping resources that we have neglected. Slowing down is about building a better world together."
Our three-year journey started in Haiti, only three days after my wedding. I’m in Puerto Rico to facilitate the last retreat that the Barr Fellows Class of 2011 will have as a cohort, here in Vieques, starting Wednesday. It has been quite an experience!
I can’t quite speak of what’s unfolding. Not because it is secret, but because it is so nascent. I’m in the middle of a journey. And this one is a big transformation. The last big one was about seven years ago.
I know it’s about presence and about embodiment. I know it’s about love. I know it is about attention and about energy. I know it’s about God. I know it’s about purpose and I know it’s about voice. I know it’s about shedding another layer of fear. I know it’s about releasing another layer of shame. I know it’s about unbinding what has been bound. I know it’s about liberation.
I’m here. And this thing is so dynamic! There more it reveals itself, the more vast it becomes. Life. What a gift!
My heart flutters with joy. I’m a husband. I’m a father. I’m a friend. I try to do good in the world. I’m a lover of this divine play.
Ohhhh! There is churning! And God knows that I have churned! And I am churning right now, and I’ll be churning some more. But that’s how milk becomes butter – and I’m game.
I want to love more, and I want to cling less.
I got myself a new moon this birthday, and I know that’s most auspicious! Here is what I plan to do between 39 and 40. My intention is to pay attention. To pay attention to my energy. I might play with it, I might tweak it, I might try to better manage the ebbs and flows of it. But that’s not my main intention.
My intention is to pay attention. To notice my energy. Not to fix, not to improve, but to notice, just to notice. Over and over again. Everyday. And to keep a simple journal of what it is that I learn. That’s my main intention. To pay attention to my energy. I’ll let you all know what I learn.
We had just finished a life changing couples’ retreat. It was truly a peak experience. We spent the whole of our time at a place called Mar de Jade, in Chacala, Mexico, about two hours away from Puerto Vallarta. When we went to get our boarding passes, a whole other adventure began. Samantha would not be allowed out of Mexico because the airline could not be sure that she would be welcomed back into the United States.
It was actually pretty simple – she wasn’t carrying her green card. Samantha knew she did not have her green card on her when we left the US. But she had consulted our lawyer, and she received incomplete information. Samantha had proof that her green card replacement was being processed, and proof that she had submitted her biometrics. We were told that these would be enough for us to get back in. Unfortunately, we were not told that she needed a special stamp on her Singapore passport from the US Department of Homeland Security.
We were stuck. It was a Sunday, and Monday was a Holiday, we would not be able to talk to the US Consulate until Tuesday. We had been away from Darshan, our two-year old son, for 9 days, which added a whole layer of emotion to the situation.
We had a sweet time in Puerto Vallarta, and we would not have gotten to see it otherwise. We kept our spirits up and made sure to be the first in line at the US Consulate on Tuesday morning.
The consulate was not able to help us!
We were left with two options, flying to Tijuana and taking a bus to the border or flying to Mexico City and sorting things out at the US Embassy.
We got to the US Embassy right before closing on Tuesday afternoon, only to learn that the service we needed would not be available until Thursday.
And this is where you all come in.
We felt so much love and support from our community. We felt your love, your prayers, your support, your good energy. We also received a lot of offers for help. A number of you offered to put us in contact with immigration lawyers. Someone offered to have food for us as soon as we got home. Another person gave us a thorough tip on how they gamed the system when similarly stuck.
In the end, we accepted help from Jeffrey Thomas, who stepped into our situation with incredible care and vigor. He put us in touch with a friend of his at Senator Warren’s Office. This amazing friend of his was able to get a letter to the US Embassy and facilitated our ability to get out on Wednesday instead of Thursday. We also had some fun walking about and eating great food in that phenomenally powerful city.
It was not the end of our adventure.
When we entered Houston, Samantha and I were split up. She was not allowed to use her mobile, so I had no idea what was going on. I later learned that she was aggressively interrogated and we were stiffly fined. But we made it onto our plane, in the very last minute, and after sprinting through terminals.
Here is what’s insane – we landed at midnight, and the same Jeffrey Thomas was at the airport to meet us! We got a ride home! Talk about service and love!
We did not get to see Darshan until the next day, but today we are very happy to be together again.
We are deeply grateful for your love, prayers and energy. We are also aware that as stressful as our situation was, it was truly a “first world problem,” a problem that we had to face only because we have so much privilege in the first place. As we express our gratitude we ask you to send loving energy, and wherever possible, to take action, on behalf of those global migrants who are forced to leave their homes because of our unjust global economy.
There are too many people who are split from their families for years at a time. There are too many people who can’t cross borders at will. There are too many people that have to settle for slave labor just because they want the best for the next generation.
Let’s take a moment and send them love. And more importantly, let us think of new ways to stand in solidarity with them.
Appreciating St. Augustine extensively quoted in our newspaper of record - here is an authentic experience of the divine mystery:
“It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God.
Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God — a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.”
I’m declaring today the beginning of a journey. Today we honor the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., our prophet and truth teller.
Next week I go on a four week sabbatical, an honor after seven years of service at IISC. That sabbatical is anchored by a couple’s retreat in Mexico. Samantha and I are about to take things to the next level.
I return from sabbatical on the week of my birthday, which will also be my last week as a full time employee of IISC.
Right after my birthday I’m off to work in Puerto Rico, the land of my birth. I am planning on spending some quality time with my Abuelo before I begin facilitation of a retreat in Vieques.
After a week, I will leave Vieques for India, the land of my spiritual birth. I will be in Varanasi, Lord Shiva’s City on the banks of the Ganges and in Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first teaching. I will be part of the First International Noble Truth Experience, an effort that “aims simply to bring together people of diverse backgrounds who live engaged lives, to explore ways to truly benefit others.”
Love and partnership, the birth of the body, and the awakening of the soul.
I will return from India to take part in a local ceremony with a close group of friends, then I will begin a three cleanse and will get ready to launch The Thrive Workshop in April.
“We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Look back in your own life and notice how often you have gone through the same experience.”—
This quote truly resonated for me. I would take it a step further and say that our very personality type, at least our archetype, and here I’m thinking of the enneagram, also determines what we pay attention to.
So much happens every day of our lives. We need to choose what to remember, what are the beads in the garland that we are putting together? We have a filter for experience. The first layer of that system is personality - which is almost impossible to change.
But the next layer is belief, and belief can change, belief must change if indeed we are to evolve.
I’m learning so much about learning just by watching Darshan learn. It is all very hands-on, not at all theoretical. continual observation, imitation, experimentation and iteration. It is also about taking your time, it is about being patient. It is about stubbornly trying to do it yourself but also knowing when to ask for help.
I got into a car accident today. Thank God everyone is ok!
We couldn’t get out of DC last night. We ended up finding a 6:30AM flight and found a fun hotel for the night. The only problem was that the hotel had a maintenance issue, and so we didn’t have hot water! No clothes to change into, no deodorant, no toothbrush (YES! These are first world problems!!! These are the “problems” of privllege).
We had an IISC Board & Staff Retreat today, at the Essex Conference Center in the North Shore. We were supposed to come in and out of DC on the same day, so Jen left her car there yesterday morning. We were exhausted so I offered to drive, I could tell Jen was tired and I tend to be a morning person. Essex is about an hour away.
On the way there Jen flinched twice. She felt I was getting too close to the car in front of me. My driving was stressing her out, which was killing the whole point of my offering to drive! I literally acknowledge that aloud and then decide to keep 10 feet away from the car in front of me.
The exit onto 128 was coming up in a mile and we had to switch four lanes in a busy highway. I sped up to get between two cars to my write when I heard Jen SCREAM! Impact! Air Bags! Hollering! Green juice everywhere. Smoke.
“Get out of the car,” I hear Jen scream and we pop out in shock, each reacting our own crazy way for a few seconds before we start to try and figure out what to do next. Jen’s car is totaled. We can’t see anything wrong with the car in front of us. The guy is perplexed and doesn’t give off any emotion, not a word. We call the cops. A woman approaches, a third car had been hit, no visible damage, she had already called the cops. It was cold as a polar vortex.
I won’t go through every detail, but it was the best interaction I’ve ever had with a policeman. The tow truck guy, who ended up giving us a ride, was also really nice. And the most amazing thing was the good citizen who pulled over, saught to comfort me by naming my shock and offering help, and went on to invite us to sit in his warm car until the cops came. Consider doing that next time you see an accident and no one looking out, I definitely will. It made a huge difference.
Grateful for Eileen Mayko, our friend, and the member of our leadership team who came to pick us up and offered the greatest and sweetest comfort. It was awesome to go from such shock into such a loving community of people who are authentically seeking ways to have more positive impact in the world. That’s what we did all day today!
It is all so intense. The car is totaled. My insurance is going to go up and my toe hurts from slamming the break so hard. It feels awful to crash someone else’s car. I feel vulnerable and I shiver at the thought of something like that happening with Darshan in the car. I am unbelievably grateful for grace and for life and for friends and for family and for love and for this next breath. It feels good to be alive tonight.
Where does a circle begin? There is something arbitrary to the way we measure time. And yet we do have a feeling that we are somehow moving forward, that the universe is still expanding, that this whole thing is going somewhere.
Where do you want it to go? How do you want to evolve?
What’s magical about marking a new year has nothing to do with the Gregorian calendar that the West has imposed upon the world. What’s magical about it is us. The millions of us who for a brief moment bring all of our attention together to mark a clock striking midnight. That’s the power of it. The attention we give it. All of us, together.
In my family and culture midnight brings love, kisses, hugs, noise, remembering and looking forward. As all of it is happening I like to imagine that a brief portal opens up and a shower of possibility descends upon us, and the space between dream and real is erased for a brief moment.
This New Year celebration is an extra special one. Not just because 2013 was a time of [pretty rough] transformation, but because the moon is colluding with us. How often do we get a new moon on January 1?
The new moon is good for planting seeds, it is the beginning of growth. I’m not big on resolutions, but I try to live with intention, and new moons are great for intention. New year, new moon, new intention. May I grow closer to God, become a better husband and father, align with evolution itself, and get a couple of steps closer to fulfilling my life’s purpose.
Happy new year, may 2014 bring us closer to that vibrant life giving space at the intersection of love and freedom.
The days are getting longer, the sun is making its way back. Feeling blessed by last night’s solstice chant down at our house. Powerful. Really Juicy.
Heart swells with love and gratitude. Feeling blessed by the people who chose to celebrate with us. The musicians take the prize, they kept us going three hours straight! Drummers, harmonium players, lead singers – thank you for blessing us with your gift.
It felt right to have our house filled with our family of choice. It was good to be with children, young people and elders. It was good to be visited by other lovers of God, devotees who seek to have the magical nectar of chanting. It was great to have amazing organizers and activists, people who devote their life to justice, share in the sacred space with us.
It was so good to have so much food and drink. We were visited by a magical Indian musician who made a brief appearance to blow our hearts awake. The musical groove for after the chant was mixed specially for us. Everything came together beautifully.
Our teacher says that when you engage the yoga of meditation, your home becomes a place of pilgrimage, your meals become sacred offerings and your friends become gods and goddesses – this is how we felt last night. And we are grateful.
I’ve been reflecting on the fact that we had a solstice chant last year. That chant was inspired by the “2012” end of the Mayan calendar brouhaha. We came together to celebrate the end of something old and the beginning of something new. But we could only speculate about the what. A year on, it is easier to reflect on the true meaning of that day.
Here at the Riveratan household we are fond of saying that the 2012 “end of the world” really did come our way, a set of old patterns had to end. The process was far from easy. I keep telling my friends that 2013 was the hardest year I’ve had since 2006. Things got ugly.
I only have intimations as to what’s next, and only a sense of what this change will really look like. But I do know this – everything has really changed. And I don’t think we are alone in this experience. It seems that throughout 2013, anytime I spoke with anyone who was even toying with the idea of becoming awake, they too were going through a tough transition.
I’ve used different metaphors, a snake shedding a skin is never pretty, catharsis is a thorough thing. But my heart is bigger, and I find myself within my body. I am able to love more and I am able to cling less. I trust. I’m ready. And I am deeply grateful to be on this journey with human beings who chose to live like this.
“Take a moment to think about the stories you tell over and over again. What is your motivation to continue to tell them? Do they make you feel stronger as a person in the retelling,or do they leave you feeling like a victim?