I am awash in the afterglow of something. Something I imagine is impossible to fully describe, but which leaves me feeling a great joy in my own human-ness, a profound connection to the lineage of human beings that lived before me, and a fluid communion with my fellow humans of the now.
I spent the past three days in Richmond, CA, at an event called Creating Enlightened Society. Hosted by the Shambhala Buddhist community, this weekend featured voices from many wisdom traditions and faiths. The point was an inquiry- how can we create good human society?
As I attempt to somehow capture the immensity of this question, and the space in which it was held and honored, words appear in my mind, glowing: embodiment, vulnerability, extension, transformation, space, heart, touching, humanity, profundity, universal potency, worthiness, power, curiosity, relaxation, strength, dignity, manifestation, wonder, unity, yearning, creation, and okay-ness.
There were resounding commonalities between all of the teachings presented:
You are okay.
The ability to engage with others begins with yourself. To feel and allow for your own human-ness cultivates a space of curiosity and presence. We must come back to ourselves. We must accept that we do not have all the answers, and commit to showing up anyway. We must EMBODY our being. Inhabit our skin, our world, our space, our community. The inherent confidence of being human is recognized here- that spark and brilliance that we all possess- worthiness. We must address the human heart.
We are not divided.
We are all human. We are all having these experiences- suffering, doubt, longing, inspiration, aches, unions, learning, forgetting, trying, committing. It is not you vs. everyone else. We must go beyond personal, spiritual, and religious barriers between one another. We must “cast away the imaginations of division.” “Our humanity not just unites us all, it IS us all.”
We don't have to reinvent the wheel.
We exist within the “fabric of interconnectedness.” There is a universal goodness or potency that is underneath everything. Think of those moments when you are sparked by a sense of wonder and curiosity. That is the space of potential. There is a long lineage of other people who have experienced this same profundity. There are groups of people all over the world who are already creating a good human society. Let us ask how we can tap into what already exists. We don't need to start from scratch.
We must extend ourselves.
“Meditation is essential, but it is not sufficient.” We must engage in contemplative practices in order to accept our humanity, yes. But it doesn't end there. We must find the courage, the radicalness, the strength and dignity to press against our world, and allow it to press against us. We must travel “through the valley of the personal and into the societal,” the communal. In relating to one another, things begin to unfold. But it won't happen if we don't show up. A willingness to step out of belonging, out of boundary, and out of comfort is absolutely required.
So I ask you, what does it mean to create enlightened society? Good human society? Are you willing to engage in this inquiry with me?
“The dream is as you dream it.”- Jyoti
“Enlightenment is the ability to realize you are in a very powerful position.”- Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
For more details about the weekend, check outthe website for the schedule and speakers:
my live reports from the event: