Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘freedom’

S.E.E.I.T.

Everything happens so fast. In the blink of an eye, sensations, emotions and thoughts come and go. We usually remain unaware of these reactions to internal and external experiences, and remain as slaves to our conditioning from culture, family, and ourselves. To break these unconscious chains, we can learn to pause, look closely at what is happening and make choices. Psychologist (and holocaust survivor) Victor Frankl summed up our situation, and opportunity, when he said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.”

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Mindfulness meditation can be one of the ways to take that pause, that moment or breath, to stop and look at what is happening. But, what if what we witness, or observe, is overwhelming and/or jumping from one thing to another? What do we do when the sensations, emotions and/or thoughts are arising and passing, seemingly all at once, or in rapid secession?

One of the means that can be used to decipher, and simplify our experience is by naming or labeling what we see moment to moment. There are a number of aphorisms and techniques that are available for such practice. Here is one called S.E.E.I.T., which can define and refine our observation and understanding of what we are aware of.

S.E.E.I.T. encompasses everything and anything that may come into our consciousness or awareness. S stands for Senses. E is for Emotion. The second E denotes Emptiness. I is the letter for Intention. And T is our Thoughts.

Senses include all that can be felt, heard, tasted, smelled, spoken or seen.
Emotions are a spectrum including sadness, joy, grief, pain, laughter, anger.
Emptiness is when there are no emotions, thoughts, senses or intentions.
Intention arises as desire and/or wishes and motivations.
Thoughts can be seen as P.U.F.F. (Past, Unfolding, Fantasy or Future).

Each of these aspects of our mind, and our experience of living, can be separated further into more distinct categories, and labels for objects of our awareness, but S.E.E.I.T. more than suffices for beginning and experienced practice. It is a way to remember, a means to slow down, pause and see what is happening in our body moment by moment. It can assist our understanding that what is going on internally and externally is not who we are, but what we are experiencing in the present. It is a step towards not only creating “space” between stimulus and response, but also identifying what happens in that space and giving us insight and freedom to choose.

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Drinking in Land of the Buddha

Drinking in Land of the Buddha
by Gabriel Constans

Gautama Buddha once said, “Desire is a trap, Desirelessness is liberation.” Obviously he had never tasted a smoothie, or he would have said, “Desire is freedom, and the best desire of all is for smoothies.” Over the last few years, many Buddhists have been known to be secretly converting to Smoothism. This is a simple, satisfying meal, which, like Buddhism, is nourishing and easy to digest.

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Yield: 5 cups

1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup coconut milk
1 banana
1/2 cup shelled, unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/2 pineapple, peeled and chopped

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on low speed for 45 seconds.

Pour into small bowls, serve and discover true enlightenment.

China’s Most Famous

Gabriel –

You may not know his name, but my friend Liu Xiaobo is a global icon for freedom. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights.

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Today, this hero remains in jail, as China’s most famous political prisoner.

Xiaobo is serving an 11-year term for his activism demanding that the Chinese government make his country more democratic and make its courts more independent. His wife, who has never been convicted of any crime, is under house arrest. This is not just.

I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for my work fighting the racist Apartheid system in South Africa. I am humbled to share the Nobel legacy with someone so brave as Xiaobo.

Today, with more than 130 other Nobel Prize winners, I am calling on the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to release Liu Xiaobo from prison and his wife, Xia, from house arrest.

Click here to join us and call for their freedom by signing the petition I started on Change.org.

This is an historic moment in China. Every 10 years, the Chinese government hands over power to a new generation of leadership. As of a few weeks ago, Xi Jinping has succeeded his predecessor, Hu Jintao, in leading China — and hopes are that he will open China to reform more than any of his predecessors.

The Chinese government doesn’t usually listen to voices from outside the country. (Or voices from within the country, for that matter!) But the world has a singular opportunity to push for change when China’s leadership changes over every 10 years. This is our chance!

Humans are wonderful, and we can do amazing things when we act together. I have seen this time and time again with my own eyes.

Click here to sign my petition now, and call on China’s new Premier Xi Jinping to release Nobel Peace Prizer winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Brothers and sisters, we are going to move mountains together!

God bless you,

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Cape Town, South Africa

Tweet To Jail In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

Is tweeting a crime in Bahrain?

Ask @NabeelRajab. After tweeting a sentence shorter than the one you’re reading right now to Bahrain’s Prime Minister demanding political change, Nabeel Rajab was arrested.

Is protesting a crime in Bahrain?

For taking that same message to the streets through organized protests, Nabeel was once again charged and this time, sentenced to 3 years in prison. In fact, since May of this year, Nabeel – a prominent leader of the human rights movement in Bahrain – has been kept in a small, dark cell.

Tell Bahraini authorities to free Nabeel Rajab now! Send a message by Tuesday and we’ll amplify your voice during our upcoming demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, we know that Bahraini authorities aren’t just after Nabeel Rajab. They want to tear down everything he stands for. They want to intimidate others so that no one will stand with him. They want Nabeel Rajab to sit in that small, dark cell and feel alone.

But that won’t happen. Nabeel Rajab will never sit alone in darkness because Amnesty International will always be there to shine a light. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

Nabeel’s peaceful actions for freedom in Bahrain — from tweets to marching in the streets — exemplify why he is a signature case for Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights event. That is because whether you show solidarity by writing and mailing letters, updating your Facebook status, organizing rallies or taking any solidarity action in between, you can make a difference in the lives of this year’s 10 Write for Rights cases.

Mark your calendars, because from December 5 – 16, we will build upon Amnesty’s 51-year tradition and incredible history of writing letters to save lives. Thousands will gather in classrooms, coffee shops, community centers and more; united by the power of the letter and for the cause of writing for human rights.

But we start building momentum today. Your action for Nabeel Rajab right now will fuel our special demonstration in D.C. on Tuesday to draw attention to Bahrain’s disgraceful treatment of Nabeel Rajab and its crackdown on human rights. For every 100 actions taken, we will hold a special place so that we can represent our full force — that means you! — when we hit the streets.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see how your actions will add power to our work to free Nabeel. Take action to free Nabeel Rajab now so that we can add your voice to Tuesday’s special demonstration.

The spark for this year’s Write for Rights begins with you, but the flame that burns for Nabeel Rajab and others who defend human rights will last forever.

In Solidarity,

Beth Ann Toupin
Country Specialist, Bahrain
Amnesty International USA

Suu Kyi In D.C.

Dear Gabriel,

I wish you could have been with me when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition leader and former prisoner of conscience in Myanmar, electrified the Amnesty Rights Generation Town Hall this morning at Washington DC’s Newseum.

Today’s heart-stopping moments are too many to recount – here is a small sample:

Aung San Suu Kyi spoke with unflagging conviction and courage, filling me with pride for the role Amnesty supporters like you played in securing her release and sustaining her spirits over the last 23 years.
Alex Wagner, our moderator from MSNBC, recalled how as a child visiting family in Burma she drove by Daw Suu’s compound with a feeling of fear, admiration, and yearning.

The entire audience proclaimed ourselves “all Aung San Suu Kyi” and held up a mask with her picture on it; the next moment we each turned our mask over to reveal the faces of other prisoners of conscience who remain behind bars.

Indeed, it’s been a long road, yet our journey is not over. Strengthen our work – donate to Amnesty International.

Aung San Suu Kyi is free, but prisoners of conscience around the world are denied their basic freedoms. We take up their cases with equal vigor. It is what makes Amnesty unique, and necessary.

The reason Aung San Suu Kyi made time during her visit to the United States to join our Town Hall was precisely because she wanted to inspire legions of activists to work on behalf of other prisoners the way they worked for her.

As Amnesty supporters, you and I have the power to change the course of history, to right great wrongs.

Realize that power with me today – make a gift today and your impact will be doubled.

I’ve set a bold goal of inspiring 50,000 gifts this month during our annual Membership Drive. Thanks to a generous donor, we can match every dollar of your donation made before Sept. 30.

Political repression comes in many forms. Take the case of feminist Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, so poignantly represented at today’s Town Hall meeting.

Last month, three members of Pussy Riot were convicted of “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” for playing a protest song in a cathedral. They are headed to a prison camp for two years.

Today, Pyotr and Gera Verzilov, the husband and 4-year old daughter of present-day prisoner of conscience Nadja Tolokonnikova from Pussy Riot, presented Daw Suu with a bouquet of flowers, as a torch passed from one generation of prisoners of conscience to the next.

Like Daw Suu’s imprisonment, the Pussy Riot conviction is a bitter blow to free speech. It reminds us never to take for granted the hard-fought human rights we have secured.

As long as people like the women of Pussy Riot are behind bars, we know what we must do. We must join and act for the greater good.

But Amnesty doesn’t work without you, so please, do your part to keep this movement strong – make a contribution to Amnesty International today.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Stand With Joan

Dear Gabriel,

It is impressive how powerful the nonviolent human rights movement has become.

But unless we are constantly vigilant in standing up for human rights, we risk losing them.

Here’s what’s happening, and why I’m urging you to stand with me and take action:

After a year of both promising advances and broken promises, Egypt’s transition to accountable government is an open question. Despite activist progress, women remain marginalized from leadership positions, the new civilian government is without a constitution, and officials are still using Mubarak-era laws to attack the media and freedom of speech.

Here in the U.S., the state of Texas just executed a man, Marvin Wilson, with an IQ of 61, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 10-year ban on executing people with “mental retardation.”

House lawmakers continue to hold up reauthorization of an inclusive Violence Against Women Act, leaving the fate of critical new protections for Native American and Alaska native women, immigrant women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in limbo.

We must not stand by while human rights are under attack. Action is the antidote to despair.

I’ve been with Amnesty from the very beginning, and this month, during our September Membership Drive, I’m reminding myself and others to raise our voices for Amnesty to defend human rights for all.

Donate today to help Amnesty respond to these assaults on human rights.

Amnesty has a bold goal of inspiring 50,000 gifts during the drive, and is offering a 2-for-1 match on your donation before Sept. 30.

Amnesty knows what it takes to fight for human rights on a global scale.

To this day I am still deeply moved and inspired by the story of Burmese human rights defender and former prisoner of conscience Aung San Suu Kyi. Thanks to the persistence and solidarity of human rights advocates like you, Suu Kyi is free to continue her pro-democracy work and spread her message of freedom and dignity.

Freeing Suu Kyi took 21 years of unwavering activism. This is what it means to be a part of the Amnesty movement.

Please, give no ground to doubt. Go forward in the fight for human rights with Amnesty. Click here to stand with Amnesty during the Membership Drive today.

We are counting on your concern, caring, love, and nonviolent action.

In Peace,
Joan Baez
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

President’s Religious Freedom Message

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
10 August, 2012

Remarks by the President at Iftar Dinner – East Room

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Please, please have a seat. Good evening, everyone. And welcome to the White House.

Of all the freedoms we cherish as Americans, of all the rights that we hold sacred, foremost among them is freedom of religion, the right to worship as we choose. It’s enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution — the law of the land, always and forever. It beats in our heart — in the soul of the people who know that our liberty and our equality is endowed by our Creator. And it runs through the history of this house, a place where Americans of many faiths can come together and celebrate their holiest of days — and that includes Ramadan.

As I’ve noted before, Thomas Jefferson once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia — perhaps the first Iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago. And some of you, as you arrived tonight, may have seen our special display, courtesy of our friends at the Library of Congress — the Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. And that’s a reminder, along with the generations of patriotic Muslims in America, that Islam — like so many faiths — is part of our national story.

This evening, we’re honored to be joined by members of our diplomatic corps, members of Congress — including Muslim American members of Congress, Keith Ellison and Andre Carson — as well as leaders from across my administration. And to you, the millions of Muslim Americans across our country, and to the more than one billion Muslims around the world — Ramadan Kareem.

Now, every faith is unique. And yet, during Ramadan, we see the traditions that are shared by many faiths: Believers engaged in prayer and fasting, in humble devotion to God. Families gathering together with love for each other. Neighbors reaching out in compassion and charity, to serve the less fortunate. People of different faiths coming together, mindful of our obligations to one another — to peace, justice and dignity for all people — men and women. Indeed, you know that the Koran teaches, “Be it man or woman, each of you is equal to the other.”

And by the way, we’ve seen this in recent days. In fact, the Olympics is being called “The Year of the Woman.” (Laughter.) Here in America, we’re incredibly proud of Team USA — all of them — but we should notice that a majority of the members are women. Also, for the very first time in Olympic history, every team now includes a woman athlete. And one of the reasons is that every team from a Muslim-majority country now includes women as well. And more broadly — that’s worth applauding. (Applause.) Absolutely.

More broadly, we’ve seen the extraordinary courage of Muslim women during the Arab Spring — women, right alongside men, taking to the streets to claim their universal rights, marching for their freedom, blogging and tweeting and posting videos, determined to be heard. In some cases, facing down tanks, and braving bullets, enduring detentions and unspeakable treatment, and at times, giving their very lives for the freedom that they seek — the liberty that we are lucky enough to enjoy here tonight.

These women have inspired their sisters and daughters, but also their brothers and their sons. And they’ve inspired us all. Even as we see women casting their ballots and seeking — standing for office in historic elections, we understand that their work is not done. They understand that any true democracy must uphold the freedom and rights of all people and all faiths. We know this, too, for here in America we’re enriched by so many faiths, by men and women — including Muslim American women.

They’re young people, like the student who wrote me a letter about what it’s like to grow up Muslim in America. She’s in college. She dreams of a career in international affairs to help deepen understanding between the United States and Muslim countries around the world. So if any of the diplomatic corps have tips for her — (laughter.) She says that “America has always been the land of opportunity for me, and I love this country with all my heart.” And so we’re glad to have Hala Baig here today. (Applause.)

They are faith leaders like Sanaa Nadim, one of the first Muslim chaplains at an American college — a voice for interfaith dialogue who’s had the opportunity to meet with the Pope to discuss these issues. We’re very proud to have you here. (Applause.)

They are educators like Auysha Muhayya, born in Afghanistan, who fled with her family as refugees to America, and now, as a language teacher, helps open her students to new cultures. So we’re very pleased to have her here. (Applause.)

They are entrepreneurs and lawyers, community leaders, members of our military, and Muslim American women serving with distinction in government. And that includes a good friend, Huma Abedin, who has worked tirelessly — (applause) — worked tirelessly in the White House, in the U.S. Senate, and most exhaustingly, at the State Department, where she has been nothing less than extraordinary in representing our country and the democratic values that we hold dear. Senator Clinton has relied on her expertise, and so have I.

The American people owe her a debt of gratitude — because Huma is an American patriot, and an example of what we need in this country — more public servants with her sense of decency, her grace and her generosity of spirit. So, on behalf of all Americans, we thank you so much. (Applause.)

These are the faces of Islam in America. These are just a few of the Muslim Americans who strengthen our country every single day. This is the diversity that makes us Americans; the pluralism that we will never lose.

And at times, we have to admit that this spirit is threatened. We’ve seen instances of mosques and synagogues, churches and temples being targeted. Tonight, our prayers, in particular, are with our friends and fellow Americans in the Sikh community. We mourn those who were senselessly murdered and injured in their place of worship. And while we may never fully understand what motivates such hatred, such violence, the perpetrators of such despicable acts must know that your twisted thinking is no match for the compassion and the goodness and the strength of our united American family.

So tonight, we declare with one voice that such violence has no place in the United States of America. The attack on Americans of any faith is an attack on the freedom of all Americans. (Applause.) No American should ever have to fear for their safety in their place of worship. And every American has the right to practice their faith both openly and freely, and as they choose.

That is not just an American right; it is a universal human right. And we will defend the freedom of religion, here at home and around the world. And as we do, we’ll draw on the strength and example of our interfaith community, including the leaders who are here tonight.

So I want to thank all of you for honoring us with your presence, for the example of your lives, and for your commitment to the values that make us “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” (Applause.)

God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed,
National Director
Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America
Phone 202-544-5656 Fax 202-544-6636
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 304
Washington DC 20002
www.ISNA.net
Click here to watch ISNA’s Interfaith Message

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