Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘world’

A Circle of Love

images17Communion: The Female Search for Love by Bell Hooks.

One of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books.

Witness to Love

Women and men, girls and boys, must restructure how we spend our time if we want to be loving. We cannot be overachievers and perfectionist performers from kindergarten on in our public lives (the world of school and work) if we are to learn how to love, if we want to practice the art of loving. Genuine love requires time and commitment. And this is simply the case for love in the context of partnership. Self-love takes times and commitment, particularly on the part of those who are wounded in the space where we would know love in our childhoods. New women today, the late-twenties and thirty-something crew, are as reluctant as their patriarchal male counterparts to make time for love. Wise aging women know that one of the keenest regrets a large number of females experience in their lives is failure to understand early the power and meaning of love. Not only would that knowledge have afforded an understanding that would have prevented them from ending up emotionally abused and battered, it would have ushered true love in to their lives sooner rather than later.

My hope for younger generations of women is that they will examine the unfulfilled spaces of their lives soon and boldly, unabashedly choosing to do the work of love, placing it above everything. Again and again it must be stated that when I talk about doing the work of love, I am not talking simply about partnerships; I am talking about the work of self-love in conjunction with the work of relational love. Visionary feminist thinkers were among the first group of people to call attention to the disservice we women do to ourselves when we act as though it were important only to find the right partner, someone to love, rather than to choose a circle of love. When we place emphasis on building a beloved community, of which having a partner may be an essential part but not the whole, we free ourselves to lead joyous lives as single folks, (in or out of partnership with another).

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Peace Through Pleasure

The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace Through Pleasure
An Alternative Great Ape Paradigm for Human Sexuality

By Susan M. Block, Ph.D.
Gardner & Daugthers, Publishers, 2014
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

TheBonoboWay3If pleasure is heaven then The Bonobo Way is heaven sent. The experience and insight of Dr. Susan Block and her understanding of human sexuality and the pleasure seeking and sharing Bonobo apes (who live south of the Congo River in East Africa and have 99% of the same DNA as humans), may surprise you and turn any preconceived expectations and judgments about bonobo’s and human’s upside down and inside out.

Ms. Block begins by telling the tale of her first encounter with the Bonobo at a zoo, its effects on her marriage and the rest of her life. She discovered what she calls The Bonobo Sutra, and says, “The list of bonobo sex activities is more impressive than the original Kama Sutra.” She also learned about the revolutionary way Bonobos use sex for conflict resolution and that there are no known instances of them ever murdering, raping or attacking fellow Bonobos or other species. This may be true, in large part, because of the matriarchal structure of Bonobo communities and families. “I call them the most feminist apes on Earth,” says Dr. Block.

Sex and food are shared by all, but it is the female Bonobo who decides when, how and if she chooses to indulge in either. Food and sex also seem to go “hand in hand”. Opposite from most ape cultures, Bonobo boys stay with their mothers until late in life and it is the girls who migrate to another group at childbearing age. New females are accepted into their new group and clan, with food, sex and emotional bonding. The author says, “If you’re a bonobo female, your gal pals have your back.”

After Dr. Block has explained some of the research and her experiences, with the Bonobo, she then shows how their way of life and behavior has, is and could be, incorporated into human well-being and sexual relations. She says, “In essence, The Bonobo Way offers an alternative great ape paradigm for human behavior, especially (but not exclusively) sexual behavior.” And, “Our emotional wiring is closer to the peaceful, sexual bonobo than to the brutal, militaristic chimpanzee.” The basic Bonobo steps for human’s to incorporate into our lives are that 1) Pleasure heals pain. 2) Doing good feels good. 3) You can’t fight a war very well if you’re having an orgasm.

As a sex therapist and facilitator of Bonoboville (a speakeasy, pleasure den for invited consenting adults, which is on the radio and sometimes filmed), Dr. Block has developed a 12-Step Program, which she encourages humans to follow. Some of the steps include – Go Bonobos in Bed, Outercourse Is In, Mix Food and Sex, Create Your Own Bonoboville, and Swing Through Life.

The Bonobo Way takes care to develop this way of life ethically and looks closely at the questions it raises, and says it is not a one size fits all program. Dr. Block doesn’t minimize others concerns or questions about living The Bonobo Way, but deftly addresses them with research, examples, and most importantly, her history with her marriage, studies, counseling practice and Bonoboville. One may deny or differ with her ideas, concepts or philosophy, but not with her personal perception and story, as it is her experience alone (or in this case with many others), which is being shared.

If you get a copy of The Bonobo Way, there is a strong possibility that you will find yourself drawn too and/or resonating with living a Bonobo way of life, as well as wanting to help protect them from extinction. The last step of the The Bonobo 12-Step Program is, “Save the Bonobos, Save the World”.

The Suffering of Others

Trance of “Unreal Other”
by Tara Brach
From Tara Brach’s Blog
14 May 2014

The truth is: without a genuine willingness to let in the suffering of others, our spiritual practice remains empty.

Father Theophane, a Christian mystic, writes about an incident that happened when he took some time off from his secular duties for spiritual renewal at a remote monastery. Having heard of a monk there who was widely respected for his wisdom, he sought him out. Theophane had been forewarned that this wise man gave advice only in the form of questions. Eager to receive his own special contemplation, Theophane approached the monk: “I am a parish priest and am here on retreat. Could you give me a question to meditate on?”

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“Ah, yes.” The wise man answered. “My question for you is: What do they need?” A little disappointed, Theophane thanked him and went away. After a few hours of meditating on the question and feeling as if he were getting nowhere, he decided to go back to the teacher.

“Excuse me,” he began, “Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. Your question has been helpful, but I wasn’t so much interested in thinking about my apostolate during this retreat. Rather I wanted to think seriously about my own spiritual life. Could you give me a question for my own spiritual life?”

“Ah, I see,” answered the wise man. Then my question is, “What do they really need?”

Like so many of us, Father Theophane had assumed that true spiritual reflection focuses on our solitary self. But as the wise man reminded him, spiritual awakening is inextricably involved with others. As Theophane focused on the needs of those he had been given to serve, he would recognize their vulnerability and longing for love—and realize that their needs were no different than his own.

The question the wise man suggested was wonderfully crafted for awakening in Theophane the true spiritual depth that comes from paying close attention to other human beings.

Like Theophane, whenever we are caught in our own self-centered drama, everyone else becomes “other” to us, different and unreal. The world becomes a backdrop to our own special experience and everyone in it serves as supporting cast, some as adversaries, some as allies, most as simply irrelevant. Because involvement with our personal desires and concerns prevents us from paying close attention to anyone else, those around us—even family and friends—can become unreal, two-dimensional cardboard figures, not humans with wants and fears and throbbing hearts.

The more different someone seems from us, the more unreal they may feel to us. We can too easily ignore or dismiss people when they are of a different race or religion, when they come from a different socio-economic “class.” Assessing them as either superior or inferior, better or worse, important or unimportant, we distance ourselves.

Fixating on appearances—their looks, behavior, ways of speaking—we peg them as certain types. They are HIV positive or an alcoholic, a leftist or fundamentalist, a criminal or power-monger, a feminist or do-gooder. Sometimes our type-casting has more to do with temperament—the person is boring or narcissistic, needy or pushy, anxious or depressed. Whether extreme or subtle, typing others makes the real human invisible to our eyes and closes our heart.

Once someone is an unreal other, we lose sight of how they hurt. Because we don’t experience them as feeling beings, we not only ignore them, we can inflict pain on them without compunction. Not seeing that others are real leads to a father disowning his son for being gay, divorced parents using their children as weapons. All the enormous suffering of violence and war comes from our basic failure to see that others are real.

In teaching the compassion practices, I sometimes ask students to bring to mind someone they see regularly but are not personally involved with. Then I invite them to consider, “What does he or she need?” “What does this person fear?” “What is life like for this person?”

After one of these meditations, a student approached me to report that a wonderful thing had happened since she’d begun doing this practice. When seeing colleagues at work, neighbors walking their dogs, clerks at stores, she’d been saying in her mind, “You are real. You are real.”

Rather than being backdrops for her life, she was finding them come alive to her. She’d notice a gleam of curiosity in the eyes, a generous smile, an anxious grinding of teeth, a disappointed and resigned slope to the shoulders, the sorrow in a downcast look. If she stayed a moment longer, she could also feel their shyness, their awkwardness, or their fear. She told me, “The more real they are to me, the more real and warm and alive I feel. I feel a closeness in just being humans together. It doesn’t matter who they are … I feel like I can accept them as part of my world.”

When we stop to attend and see others as real, we uncover the hidden bond that exists between all beings. In her poem “Kindness,” Naomi Shihab Nye writes:

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

We are all journeying through the night with plans, breathing in and out this mysterious life. And, as my student discovered through her practice , the more we can learn to pay attention to others, and truly see them as “real,” just like us, the more we can allow the “tender gravity of kindness” to naturally awaken and bloom.

Adapted from Radical Acceptance, 2013

Read more from Tara at her blog. TARA BRACH

Review of Falling Into Place

9780807009925Falling into Place: An Intimate Geography of Home
by Catherine Reid
Review by July Westhale
23 March 2014
Lambda Literary

Borges says, in his literary theory, that there are more or less six themes that authors write about, six stories they tell, though the narratives may vary. All have to do with the human condition: how we love, how we live, how we make a life for ourselves, how we interact with the physical/metaphysical/spiritual, our literal and figurative place in the world. Following this metric, Catherine Reid’s newest collection of nature-centric essays, Falling into Place: An Intimate Geography of Home, is the perfect example of how the personal becomes global through familiar tropes. Utilizing her relationship to her home in the Berkshires as well as the deeply-crafted life with her partner, Reid juxtaposes her identity as a native New Englander with her otherness as a lesbian woman to create lyric tension that sustains the ambivalence of the narrative.

Such careful, intimate consideration of place is difficult to do in our day of technology. It is more common to see visitors experiencing the world through the lens of their iPhones or digital cameras than navigating nature through their known memory, as vessels (the body) contained in larger vessels (the natural universe). Reid manages to skillfully connect with the art of physically and primally knowing a landscape, as an animal might. Everything from her deep connection with the water (and thus, the scarcity) of her home to the catastrophes that have occurred over time (as in the story of the oil spill that would have wiped out an entire ecosystem within one river had it not been for the skillful navigation of a select beaver population), demonstrates the careful and intentional consideration of place as a character in the larger narrative of Reid’s life.

Read entire review and more at LAMBDA LITERARY

Without Clean Water

Girl_in_WaterFor a five-year-old child in Syria, peace is not even a memory.

Her childhood has been consumed by violence. As the conflict enters its fourth year, she may wonder if war is all the world has to offer her.

It’s not.

We can give this child hope – in the form of the most basic of necessities. Food. Medicine. And, crucially, clean water.

In war-torn areas in Syria, the supply of clean water has fallen by two-thirds. Millions of children are at risk of losing something we all take for granted.

Make your gift to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF today and help ensure that children in Syria and around the world have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Without clean water, children are vulnerable to deadly diseases like cholera. What they drink is a matter of life and death. Nearly 1,400 children die every day from unsafe water or poor sanitation.

It’s so easy to save these children’s lives. A water purification tablet costs less than a penny. A packet of oral rehydration salts that can save the life of a dehydrated child costs ten cents. A pump that can provide an entire community with constant water – just a few hundred dollars.

UNICEF has the infrastructure and expertise to deliver clean water and water treatment equipment to nearly any place on earth – whether by boat, by truck, by plane or by foot. Last year, UNICEF helped provide clean water to 10 million people in Syria – nearly half of all Syrians.

But countless more children need clean water and other essentials right now. Conflicts in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic are straining resources. UNICEF needs your help. A thirsty, sick child needs your help.

Save a child’s life with a donation to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF today.

Together, we can make sure no child dies because she does not have a simple glass of clean water. Thank you for your compassion and generosity.

With sincere gratitude,

Caryl M. Stern
President & CEO
U.S. Fund for UNICEF

The Milky Way

The Milky Way
by Gabriel Constans

This is the perfect lunchtime smoothie. Make it at home and keep it in the refrigerator at work, or make a batch for the entire week. The Milky Way will take you out of this world!

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Yield: 4 cups

1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
2 small ripe bananas
1 cup plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
1/2 cup cottage cheese (dairy or non-dairy)
2 tablespoons honey or brown rice syrup
1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic strawberries

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

Pour, drink up and prepare to take the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy.

Don’t Look the Other Way

Stop for a moment and answer this question: What can you buy for $2.50? These days, not much. A bottle of water. A candy bar, perhaps. Maybe a bag of chips.

Now think about this: Right now, half of the world’s population—more than three billion people–is living on $2.50 a day or less. With no money left over to dig their way out of poverty.

You can look away as they struggle – or you can take action.

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A small loan can be all an enterprising individual needs to begin down the path to success. Just $25 can provide a microentrepreneur with goods to sell at the local market. $50 or $100 can allow an individual to buy a sewing machine, or a refrigerator to keep food for resale from spoiling overnight. They’ll be the ones doing all of the hard work – all they need is a little help from you to get them started.

We reach more than one million clients in 22 countries – most of them women. Women in particular are using their businesses to provide for their families and to earn independence within their communities. While some 13 million worldwide have already benefited from microcredit, the need is still estimated to be 200 million people.

Around the world, our clients – and potential clients – are ready to work hard to get ahead. All they need is for you not to look the other way. You may take action and make a donation today.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President
FINCA

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