Open Your Mind [on DR Thursday]

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Peace on Earth is a nice seasonal phrase but I’m willing to bet that most folks think it is pie-in-the-sky. A utopian ideal. So, pondering what to write about Peace on Earth, I flipped open a book and the first phrase I saw was this: An Open Mind.

Horatio is wise. He once told me that in these United States we are divided because we have competing narratives. Narrative #1: Every man for himself. Narrative #2: I am my brothers’ keeper. I think he is right. Generally, you can toss every national debate into one of those buckets. This morning, for my Peace on Earth rumination, I’d redefine those two narratives this way #1: Closed Mind (every man for himself) or #2: Open Mind (I am my brother’s keeper).

The ‘every man for himself’ narrative is predicated on the notion that there is limited pie in this vast universe. The goal is to grab a big piece of the limited pie. It’s necessarily a fight because there’s not nearly enough pie to go around. It’s fear-based and fear closes minds. Every year people get trampled in the national-celebration-of-limited-pie known as Black Friday. Get yours. It’s true, through this dark lens Peace on Earth is nothing more than pie-in-the-sky.

The inverse narrative, ‘I am my brothers’ (and sisters’!) keeper’ is predicated on the notion that there is plenty of pie to go around. In fact, the goal is not to grab but to create and then to give. Not only to share our toys and our gifts but to cultivate the base layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy for everyone: security & safety. Communal self-actualization follows the same path as personal self-actualization. Morality, respect, and generosity are the blossoms of feeling secure. So is an Open Mind. Peace on Earth, through this lens, is like more pie in the oven.

The ‘every man for himself’ story is a great recipe for closing minds. With fear and studied ignorance at its center, this narrative begs us to ignore a simple truth: no one does this alone. We are, in fact, dependent upon each other for our survival, our identity and our esteem. In isolation, a human being cannot thrive. Withhold interaction and love an infant will not survive.

I have a theory (okay, a belief) that the ‘I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper’ narrative is the truth of us. When the chips are down, when another person in peril, firefighters run into the building, they don’t run away. Everyday people leap in harm’s way to save the life of another. It is their instinct. It is our nature.

Like everything, believe it or not, what we embrace is a choice. Narratives are powerful.

An Open Mind is a door into Peace on Earth. It’s possible there’s more pie in this vast universe, this abundant earth, than a closed mind wants you to see.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PEACE ON EARTH

 

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Make It Rain

Pura Besakih, the highest temple on Gunung Agung

Pura Besakih, the highest temple on Gunung Agung

Terry was a crazy expat dive master living in Bali. He’d been a deep water welder, a surfer, a fugitive from what most people recognize as civilization. He was an old soul, one of the few people I’ve met who was completely comfortable anywhere in the world. He was always a local.

When I signed up to learn to dive I had no idea that 1) I’d be the only person in the class, and 2) that my dive lessons would, in fact, be some of the most profound life lessons I’d ever receive. By the time I left Bali, Terry and I did a dozen dives including a magical drift dive (the closest thing to flying I’ve ever known), a night dive, cliff dives, and a wreck dive. Once, driving to a dive site on the other side of the island, Terry pulled off the road so a tiny elderly Balinese woman could bless us. He called it “dive insurance.”

Although I never saw it, I heard about the Buddha statue that sat in the corner of his small upstairs apartment. Terry threw money at the statue. Every time he was paid he took a portion of the money and tossed it at the statue. When there was too much money accumulated around the statue, he’d open his window and throw it out to the people working in the shops below. He called it the “agung rain.”

Gunung Agung is the central mountain in Bali. It is an active volcano. All of the altars and houses (and lives) are oriented toward the mountain. To the Balinese, it represents the central axis of the universe. When Terry opened his window, which he often did, and made it rain money, he was orienting his life to abundance. He was saying to himself and to others, there is so much, more than enough, for everyone. He was demonstrating that the universe in which he lived was infinite with resource.

He told me of the agung rain one day as we bobbed in a boat between dives. Even though I did not yet know, I am certain that he knew I was on the island to learn a new way of living. The old way wasn’t working for me. “The thing that people miss,” he said, “is to not hold on to stuff. People think the measure of their lives is by the chunk of stuff that they hold.” He smiled and added, “Life has open hands. You can’t really know how to live until you can make it rain.”

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Understand My Confusion

621. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I’m not getting you anything for Christmas. It’s not that I don’t want to give you a gift. I do. It’s just that I’m having a crisis of value; I’m not sure what is valuable anymore.

For instance, I was unplugged from the news last week so I missed the disappearance of the Twinkie. Honestly, I probably would have missed it had I not been unplugged from the news. What I didn’t miss was the profiteers that raked clean the Twinkies from store shelves only to sell them on eBay to panicking Twinkie fans for a hundred times the market price. And they are selling, thus establishing a new market price. I recognize the rules of supply and demand, the demand-fever produced by a limited supply and all of that; I can even entertain the appeal of Americana, the passing of the Twinkie era and the emotional crisis that might evoke. But, truth be told, I am shaking my head in disbelief.

Just for kicks I googled the list of endangered species and wondered where is the frenzy over the limited supply of Assam Roofed Turtles or Australian Sea Lion’s? If we have the energy to horde and save Twinkies, where is our verve to protect the Bactrian Camels? I understand there is a very limited supply. Of course, it is a rhetorical question; according to the law of supply and demand they have no value. No demand. No market. Best to just let the supply disappear. You can understand my confusion. For kicks, google the list, read it, and see how long it takes you to get to the bottom. You might want to sit. You’ll certainly want to brew some coffee; it will take you a while.

And then there is the day we set aside each year to give thanks. We gather with our families. We make a big meal to demonstrate and celebrate our abundance. Given enough time we might even sit around and tell stories of the people who came before us that lived hard lives so that we might enjoy our abundance. But, this year the stores open at 8:00. I hadn’t recognized the shortage of stuff – or perhaps it is a shortage of time to get stuff; either way, somehow we’ve managed to turn our ritual of Thanksgiving into a festival of lack. I’d ask you to explain it to me but I think that might only serve to depress me.

Given the clear value message displayed by my community, I have learned that the best gift I can give to you this year is a Twinkie. And, I can’t do it. I value you more than that. You can understand my confusion.