“I spoke about our relationships as flowers that need watering with love and communication to grow… we all need a friend to remind us…. Nourishing and healing communication is the food of our relationships…. We may not even know what we said or did that started to poison the relationship. But we have the antidote: mindful compassion and loving communication. Love, respect, and friendship all need food to survive. With mindfulness we can produce thoughts, speech, and actions that will feed our relationships and help them grow and thrive.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Art of Communicating”
According to Dr Brene Brown, empathy is feeling connection. It involves seeing from the other person’s perspective, staying out of judgment, recognising the emotions of the person, and communicating that.
Empathy is entering into that sacred space in which we say to the other person “I know what it is like down here. You are not alone.”
Empathy is a vulnerable choice in which in order to connect with the other person, I need to connect with something in myself that knows the other person’s feelings.
Sometimes it helps to not draw a silver lining in the clouds to try to make something better at that time. What makes something better is connection (of love and understanding), which may involve admitting that we do not know what to say or do too.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” (Romans 12:15-16)
I like what Max Strom wrote here in his book “A life worth breathing” about the rising popularity of yoga as a promising sign of the global awakening, bringing healing and unity around the world and challenging the consumerist culture.
“Many are turning to yoga not only to exercise, but also as an alternative to the experience of a spiritual gathering they cannot find in a church, synagogue, mosque, or on a website. The reason for this lies in the chief difference between religion and western yoga: Yoga is usually offered in a non-dogmatic format, which makes it inclusive as opposed to divisive.
Because of its message of healing, unity, and a simpler life, yoga may be one of the great rays of hope for our future.
It is my opinion that the shift we are witnessing is no less spontaneous, magnificent cultural/spiritual revolution. A new world culture is developing before our eyes at an astounding rate as yoga is being embraced…
One of the seminal messages of yoga is that we do not need a “bunch of stuff” to make us happy; instead yoga teaches that we already possess everything we need to be happy within ourselves… The corporate powers do not understand this movement, as corporate ideals are often diametrically opposed to this philosophy. There is no way to sell things to a populace that already feels it has everything it needs. How can you market the philosophy of non-materialism? Pleasure you can sell; joy you cannot.
For what we seek is within; and in yoga, this is where we dive headfirst.”
(From “A life worth breathing” by Max Strom)
Here’s adding to the excerpts I shared above from the book, which I find encouraging:
“In my view, the reason for yoga’s non-dogmatic approach to healing and spirituality is that the first purveyors of yoga who came to America wanted to make it more accessible for westerners, so they excluded much of the traditional spiritual components. What is fascinating is that even though their intention was probably self-serving, the unintended consequence was that students were led by the practice – without dogma – to a more pure spiritual practice. This is because yoga takes one’s spiritual life and vitality into one’s body, healing it while removing stress and pain.
Any yoga teacher in the world can attest that yoga is visibly de-stressing and healing countless people each day. This new wave of peace and tolerance can be felt rising, and not just in America; the wave has now stretched across the seas to Europe, the Far East, and the Middle East. International power cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore, Berlin, London, Istanbul and Tel Aviv all offer yoga classes in impressive yoga centers. Lives are being changed, relationships healed, and souls inspired to reach beyond themselves and into the possibility of a greater world through peace, non-dogmatic spirituality, and a joyous conscious life.”
(From “A life worth breathing” by Max Strom)
I think this may be why the status-conscious and consumerist-oriented Christian churches are trying to discourage their followers from taking yoga classes because when people realise their own divinity and experience peace and healing within, and when people unite as one around the world, there is no more need for tribal religions and no more dependence on weekly religious services to find peace and healing, which is bad news for these institutional churches but good news for the individuals who have found inner tranquility and freedom to think for themselves and be their authentic self.
Here’s sharing this recent video message, which I find timely and timeless. Ralph Smart revisited his message about how we are not alone in not being able to fit in the society or the family because there are many kindred spirits going through similar sufferings as us, and we can take heart in knowing that in our personal retreats from the world, we are actually reconnecting with the universe within us, and experiencing the freedom to be ourselves and express who we really are 100%, knowing we are infinite beings on a human journey.
In the above video, I noted that the speaker was sharing his reflections on Slavoj Zizek’s “The fragile absolute, or why the Christian legacy is worth fighting for”. I applaud him for being an open-minded atheist who is willing to look beyond differences and have an open dialogue with Christians on how they can work together to form an alternative community that opposes the societal ways of oppression, discrimination and consumerism. As a non-believer, he has a surprisingly good grasp of the gospel about the mission that Jesus and Paul were preaching and promoting, such as the universal truth that we are all one, for there is neither slave nor free, rich or poor, and so on, for all are one in Christ.
I also like his interpretation of Jesus’ words about hating one’s father, mother, brothers and so on, which is about unplugging from the old system of discrimination and injustice and hating this system, and actively challenging instead of passively accepting it. Indeed, we can pursue the mission of Christ by the way we live, such as creating an alternative community that is based on equality and universal brotherhood, regardless of our differences in ethnicities, backgrounds and belief systems.
- Thoughts on “In Defense of Blasphemy: Negotiating the Sacred” (themysteryofchrist.wordpress.com)
- Christ Not Christianity (themysteryofchrist.wordpress.com)
On 12 March 2013, I went to watch the movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful” with my colleagues. It has been about a couple of years since I last watched a movie. For some reasons, I didn’t enjoy watching this movie. As a matter of fact, I hardly watch movies nowadays, compared to, say, 20 years ago when I was a teenager. Maybe I have grown up somewhat, and my perspective of life has changed. I still appreciate good, thought-provoking and meaningful movies, which are perhaps few and far between. I also appreciate documentary-movies such as “Zeitgeist: The Movie”, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and “The Living Planet” as these are insightful and interesting, reminding us that we are all equal and we are all connected in the universe and there is more to what we see in the physical world.
“We are here to awake from the illusion of separateness”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
So, when I watched the movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, I felt that the whole premise of the story presentation didn’t quite sit well with me because it appeared to be based on classism, colonialism, imperialism, moralism, monarchy, hierarchical mindset, racial supremacy, and a dualistic mindset of good and evil. With due respect to the actors and actresses who have by and large done fairly well for their respective roles, and I do love fantasy stories that are filled with charm, magic, wonder and adventure, what struck a dissonant chord in me is that somehow the movie came across as a shallow fantasy movie based on racial stereotypes and superficial appearances.
For the past few days, I have been wondering whether I am being overly critical and sensitive to have such an unconventional view of the movie because it seems that the movie is generally well received by the masses in terms of box office figures. So, I decided to google the movie title and add “racism” as a key word, and I am somewhat heartened to know that I am not alone in detecting undertones of racial superiority and discrimination in the movie.
For example, one article noted that “Oz: The Great and Powerful, is based on the novels of L. Frank Baum. Baum was a white supremacist; a flaming racist who called for the extermination of all American Indians.”
Another reviewer wrote:
“I would like to think, as a society, we are beyond such childish and outdated tropes. I wanted Oz the Great and Powerful to take me back to the original movie, not the original time period in which it was released. This movie is damaging. Perhaps I’m over thinking it and taking it too seriously, but this is what we need to start thinking about when watching films, especially films aimed at children. What stereotypes are reinforced? What agenda is being pushed? Even if it’s not intentional, I think it’s high time we embark into a new era of films made for children, one in which expired ways of life and existence aren’t the norm. We should be challenging kids to think harder, imagine deeper and progress at a slightly faster pace. I’m sick of boring. I’m sick of mind numbing nonsense. You should be too. Oz the Great and Powerful is hindering progress with silly messages, racist stereotypes and sexist gender roles.”
(“Oz the Great and Powerful” Movie Review by Justin Taroli)
Yes, we need progressive movies, not retrogressive ones. As the world becomes more globalised and we are awakening to our oneness and interconnectedness, we need to find new ways to express art and entertainment that are not based on stereotypes and discrimination but rather diversity and equality.
“All of us are made of the ‘same stuff’, having evolved from the same First Source. To use an analogy: When the ocean first appeared, and then expanded, it was not created as something other than its drops. A drop of the ocean is the same as the ocean. It is the ocean, in smaller form. No single drop is other than the ocean. All the drops of the ocean are One Thing: THE OCEAN.
It would not, therefore, be inaccurate for one drop of the ocean to say to another drop: ‘We Are All One’. The second drop would simply say, ‘Of course we are. Just because we have been singularized does not mean we are other than each other, nor are we other than that of which we are a singularization. We are all the same thing, The Ocean, in singular form.’
This is also true about human beings. We are all the Same Thing, simply individuated. We are not separate from That From Which We Have Emerged, nor are we ‘other than’ each other.”
(From “The Only Thing that Matters: Book 2 in the Conversations with Humanity Series” by Neale Donald Walsch)
- Why Oz the Great and Powerful Is A Major Step Back For Witches and Women (jezebel.com)
- “Oz the Great and Powerful” Movie Review by Justin Taroli