Ahimsa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lord Mahavira, the torch-bearer of ahimsaA relief depicting the statement “ahimsā paramo dharma” (Ahinsa SthalDelhi)

Ahimsa (also spelled Ahinsa) (Sanskrit: अहिंसा IASTahiṃsāPāli:[1] avihiṃsā) (“nonviolence”) is an ancient Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings. It is a key virtue in HinduismBuddhism and Jainism.[2][3][4]

Ahimsa is one of the cardinal virtues[2] of Jainism, where it is first of the Pancha Mahavrata. It is also the first of the five precepts of Buddhism. Ahimsa is a multidimensional concept,[5] inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. Ahimsa has also been related to the notion that any violence has karmic consequences. While ancient scholars of Hinduism pioneered and refined the principles of Ahimsa, the concept also reached an extraordinary development in the ethical philosophy of Jainism.[2][6] lord Parsvanatha, the twenty-third tirthankara of Jainism, revived and preached the concept of non-violence in the 8th century BCE.[7] Mahavira, the twenty-fourth and the last tirthankara further strengthened the idea in the 6th century BCE.[8][9] Perhaps the most popular advocate of the principle of Ahimsa was Mahatma Gandhi.[10]

Ahimsa’s precept of ’cause no injury’ includes one’s deeds, words, and thoughts.[11][12] Classical Hindu texts like the Mahabharata and Ramayana, as well as modern scholars,[13] debate principles of Ahimsa when one is faced with war and situations requiring self-defence. Historical Indian literature has in this way contributed to modern theories of Just War and self-defence.[14]

Etymology

The word Ahimsa—sometimes spelled Ahinsa[15][16]—is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs, meaning to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, while a-hiṃsā, its opposite, is non-harming or nonviolence.[15][17]

Origins

The idea of reverence for ahiṃsā exist in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist canonical texts, and it may have origins in more ancient Brahmanical Vedic thoughts.[18][19][20] However, no other Indian religion has developed the non-violence doctrine and its implications on everyday life as has Jainism.[21][22][23]

Hinduism

Ancient Vedic texts

Ahimsa as an ethical concept evolved in the Vedic texts.[6][24] The oldest scriptures indirectly mention Ahimsa, but do not emphasize it. Over time, the Hindu scripts revise ritual practices and the concept of Ahimsa is increasingly refined and emphasized, until Ahimsa becomes the highest virtue by the late Vedic era (about 500 BC). For example, hymn 10.22.25 in the Rig Veda uses the words Satya (truthfulness) and Ahimsa in a prayer to deity Indra;[25] later, the Yajur Veda dated to be between 1000 BC and 600 BC, states, “may all beings look at me with a friendly eye, may I do likewise, and may we look at each other with the eyes of a friend”.[6][26]

The term Ahimsa appears in the text Taittiriya Shakha of the Yajurveda (TS 5.2.8.7), where it refers to non-injury to the sacrificer himself.[27] It occurs several times in the Shatapatha Brahmana in the sense of “non-injury”.[28] The Ahimsa doctrine is a late Vedic era development in Brahmanical culture.[29] The earliest reference to the idea of non-violence to animals (pashu-Ahimsa), apparently in a moral sense, is in the Kapisthala Katha Samhita of the Yajurveda (KapS 31.11), which may have been written in about the 8th century BCE.[30]

Bowker states the word appears but is uncommon in the principal Upanishads.[31] Kaneda gives examples of the word Ahimsa in these Upanishads.[12] Other scholars[5][32] suggest Ahimsa as an ethical concept that started evolving in the Vedas, becoming an increasingly central concept in Upanishads.

The Chāndogya Upaniṣad, dated to the 8th or 7th century BCE, one of the oldest Upanishads, has the earliest evidence for the Vedic era use of the word Ahimsa in the sense familiar in Hinduism (a code of conduct). It bars violence against “all creatures” (sarvabhuta) and the practitioner of Ahimsa is said to escape from the cycle of rebirths (CU 8.15.1).[33] Some scholars state that this 8th or 7th century BCE mention may have been an influence of Jainism on Vedic Hinduism.[34] Others scholar state that this relationship is speculative, and though Jainism is an ancient tradition the oldest traceable texts of Jainism tradition are from many centuries after the Vedic era ended.[35][36]

Chāndogya Upaniṣad also names Ahimsa, along with Satyavacanam (truthfulness), Arjavam (sincerity), Danam (charity), Tapo (penance/meditation), as one of five essential virtues (CU 3.17.4).[5][37]

The Sandilya Upanishad lists ten forbearances: AhimsaSatyaAsteyaBrahmacharyaDayaArjavaKshamaDhritiMitahara and Saucha.[38][39] According to Kaneda,[12] the term Ahimsa is an important spiritual doctrine shared by Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It literally means ‘non-injury’ and ‘non-killing’. It implies the total avoidance of harming of any kind of living creatures not only by deeds, but also by words and in thoughts.

The Epics

The Mahabharata, one of the epics of Hinduism, has multiple mentions of the phrase Ahimsa Paramo Dharma (अहिंसा परमॊ धर्मः), which literally means: non-violence is the highest moral virtue. For example, Mahaprasthanika Parva has the verse:[40]

अहिंसा परमॊ धर्मस तथाहिंसा परॊ दमः।
अहिंसा परमं दानम अहिंसा परमस तपः।
अहिंसा परमॊ यज्ञस तथाहिस्मा परं बलम।
अहिंसा परमं मित्रम अहिंसा परमं सुखम।
अहिंसा परमं सत्यम अहिंसा परमं शरुतम॥

The above passage from Mahabharata emphasises the cardinal importance of Ahimsa in Hinduism, and literally means:

Ahimsa is the highest Dharma, Ahimsa is the highest self-control,
Ahimsa is the greatest gift, Ahimsa is the best practice,
Ahimsa is the highest sacrifice, Ahimsa is the finest strength,
Ahimsa is the greatest friend, Ahimsa is the greatest happiness,
Ahimsa is the highest truth, and Ahimsa is the greatest teaching.[41][42]

Some other examples where the phrase Ahimsa Paramo Dharma are discussed include Adi ParvaVana Parva and Anushasana Parva. The Bhagavad Gita, among other things, discusses the doubts and questions about appropriate response when one faces systematic violence or war. These verses develop the concepts of lawful violence in self-defence and the theories of just war. However, there is no consensus on this interpretation. Gandhi, for example, considers this debate about non-violence and lawful violence as a mere metaphor for the internal war within each human being, when he or she faces moral questions.[43]

Self-defence, criminal law, and war

The classical texts of Hinduism devote numerous chapters discussing what people who practice the virtue of Ahimsa, can and must do when they are faced with war, violent threat or need to sentence someone convicted of a crime. These discussions have led to theories of just war, theories of reasonable self-defence and theories of proportionate punishment.[14][44] Arthashastra discusses, among other things, why and what constitutes proportionate response and punishment.[45][46]War

The precepts of Ahimsa under Hinduism require that war must be avoided, with sincere and truthful dialogue. Force must be the last resort. If war becomes necessary, its cause must be just, its purpose virtuous, its objective to restrain the wicked, its aim peace, its method lawful.[14][45] War can only be started and stopped by a legitimate authority. Weapons used must be proportionate to the opponent and the aim of war, not indiscriminate tools of destruction.[47] All strategies and weapons used in the war must be to defeat the opponent, not designed to cause misery to the opponent; for example, use of arrows is allowed, but use of arrows smeared with painful poison is not allowed. Warriors must use judgment in the battlefield. Cruelty to the opponent during war is forbidden. Wounded, unarmed opponent warriors must not be attacked or killed, they must be brought to your realm and given medical treatment.[45] Children, women and civilians must not be injured. While the war is in progress, sincere dialogue for peace must continue.[14][44]Self-defence

In matters of self-defence, different interpretations of ancient Hindu texts have been offered. For example, Tähtinen suggests self-defence is appropriate, criminals are not protected by the rule of Ahimsa, and Hindu scriptures support the use of violence against an armed attacker.[48][49] Ahimsa is not meant to imply pacifism.[50]

Alternate theories of self-defence, inspired by Ahimsa, build principles similar to theories of just war. Aikido, pioneered in Japan, illustrates one such principles of self-defence. Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, described his inspiration as Ahimsa.[51] According to this interpretation of Ahimsa in self-defence, one must not assume that the world is free of aggression. One must presume that some people will, out of ignorance, error or fear, attack other persons or intrude into their space, physically or verbally. The aim of self-defence, suggested Ueshiba, must be to neutralise the aggression of the attacker, and avoid the conflict. The best defence is one where the victim is protected, as well as the attacker is respected and not injured if possible. Under Ahimsa and Aikido, there are no enemies, and appropriate self-defence focuses on neutralising the immaturity, assumptions and aggressive strivings of the attacker.[52][53]Criminal law

Tähtinen concludes that Hindus have no misgivings about the death penalty; their position is that evil-doers who deserve death should be killed, and that a king in particular is obliged to punish criminals and should not hesitate to kill them, even if they happen to be his own brothers and sons.[54]

Other scholars[44][45] conclude that the scriptures of Hinduism suggest sentences for any crime must be fair, proportional and not cruel.

Non-human life

The Hindu precept of ’cause no injury’ applies to animals and all life forms. This precept isn’t found in the oldest verses of Vedas (1500–1000 BCE), but increasingly becomes one of the central ideas in post-Vedic period.[55][56] In the oldest layer of the Vedas, such as the Rigveda, ritual sacrifices of animals and cooking of meat to feed guests are mentioned. This included goat, ox, horse and others (or may be misinterpretation of verses).[57] However, the text is not uniform in the prescriptive sense. Some verses praise meat as food, while other verses in the Vedas also recommend “abstention from meat”, in particular, “beef”.[57][58] According to Marvin Harris, the Vedic literature is inconsistent, with some verses suggesting ritual slaughter and meat consumption, while others suggesting a taboo on meat-eating.[59]

Hindu texts dated to 1st millennium BC, initially mention meat as food, then evolve to suggestions that only meat obtained through ritual sacrifice can be eaten, thereafter evolving to the stance that one should eat no meat because it hurts animals, with verses describing the noble life as one that lives on flowers, roots and fruits alone.[55][60] The late Vedic era literature (pre-500 BCE) condemns all killings of men, cattle, birds and horses, and prays to god Agni to punish those who kill.[61]

Later texts of Hinduism declare Ahimsa one of the primary virtues, declare any killing or harming any life as against dharma (moral life). Finally, the discussion in Upanishads and Hindu Epics[62] shifts to whether a human being can ever live his or her life without harming animal and plant life in some way; which and when plants or animal meat may be eaten, whether violence against animals causes human beings to become less compassionate, and if and how one may exert least harm to non-human life consistent with ahimsa precept, given the constraints of life and human needs.[63][64] The Mahabharata permits hunting by warriors, but opposes it in the case of hermits who must be strictly non-violent. Sushruta Samhita, a Hindu text written in the 3rd or 4th century, in Chapter XLVI suggests proper diet as a means of treating certain illnesses, and recommends various fishes and meats for different ailments and for pregnant women,[65][66] and the Charaka Samhita describes meat as superior to all other kinds of food for convalescents.[67]

Across the texts of Hinduism, there is a profusion of ideas about the virtue of Ahimsa when applied to non-human life, but without a universal consensus.[68] Alsdorf claims the debate and disagreements between supporters of vegetarian lifestyle and meat eaters was significant. Even suggested exceptions – ritual slaughter and hunting – were challenged by advocates of Ahimsa.[69][70][71] In the Mahabharata both sides present various arguments to substantiate their viewpoints. Moreover, a hunter defends his profession in a long discourse.[72]The 5th-century CE Tamil scholar Valluvar, in his Tirukkural, taught ahimsa and moral vegetarianism as personal virtues.

Many of the arguments proposed in favor of non-violence to animals refer to the bliss one feels, the rewards it entails before or after death, the danger and harm it prevents, as well as to the karmic consequences of violence.[73][74]

The ancient Hindu texts discuss Ahimsa and non-animal life. They discourage wanton destruction of nature including of wild and cultivated plants. Hermits (sannyasins) were urged to live on a fruitarian diet so as to avoid the destruction of plants.[75][76] Scholars[77][78] claim the principles of ecological non-violence is innate in the Hindu tradition, and its conceptual fountain has been Ahimsa as their cardinal virtue.

The classical literature of the Indian religions, such as Hinduism and Jainism, exists in many Indian languages. For example, the Tirukkural, written in three volumes, likely between 450 and 500 CE, dedicates verses 251–260 and 321–333 of its first volume to the virtue of Ahimsa, emphasizing on moral vegetarianism and non-killing (kollamai).[79] However, the Tirukkural also glorifies soldiers and their valour during war, and states that it is king’s duty to punish criminals and implement “death sentence for the wicked”.[80][81]

Yoga

Ahimsa is imperative for practitioners of Patañjali‘s eight limb Raja yoga system. It is included in the first limb and is the first of five Yamas (self restraints) which, together with the second limb, make up the code of ethical conduct in Yoga philosophy.[82][83] Ahimsa is also one of the ten Yamas in Hatha Yoga according to verse 1.1.17 of its classic manual Hatha Yoga Pradipika.[84] The significance of Ahimsa as the first restraint in the first limb of Yoga (Yamas), is that it defines the necessary foundation for progress through Yoga. It is a precursor to Asana, implying that success in Yogasana can be had only if the self is purified in thought, word, and deed through the self-restraint of Ahimsa.

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa

A CURIOSITY CHALLENGE TO YOUNG PEOPLE

Heather Williams, H.W., M>

Dear Young Person,

I hope you are well and moving safely through this unusual and very difficult time (the Global Pandemic and more). I hope that you are feeling high hope for the future. You are young with many years of life ahead of you. 

I remember when I was young in my 20s (1967-1977). Many young people, like myself, marched down city streets across the country against the Vietnam War. We also marched for the civil rights of black people. Also, at this time, many young people began exploring drugs like Marijuana, LSD, pot, Hashish, psilocybin. Hallucinogens can and do expand your mind but like any drug, you always come back to where you started once the drug wore off. I heard a teacher say that if you want to live your life with an…E X P A N D E D  MIND… you have to be willing to do some WORK on yourself, at which, I went home, grabbed the psilocybin and LSD and flushed them down the toilet! (I had a lot of questions that were demanding an expanded mind.) And so, I got to WORK. Now after 50 years of WORKING on myself (using tools like meditation, Translation and Releasing the Hidden Splendour), I am looking back on my life and noticing how very important my CURIOSITY was in guiding me through very difficult times.

I am thinking of young people today and that is why I am reaching out to you. I am curious about YOUR CURIOSITY. But first, here is a little more about my curiosity. 

When I was in my 20s I was curious about what I’m here to do in this world. What is my purpose? This is a normal question for young people to ask themselves. Thinking about my life purpose took me to the deeper, very ancient, spiritual question that probably everyone asks at some point in their life: WHO AM I? I am not my mother. I am not my father. I am no one but me, but Who Am I? No one can answer this question for someone else. It is a question that seeks an answer that is deep within each individual. My deep yearning to answer this question definitely helped guide me in and out of remarkably challenging experiences.

There is another question that really got me curious, as I looked at the world around me. This second question began when I was sitting in college classrooms listening to professors telling me this and that. I sat there thinking to myself: Are they telling me the truth or are they telling me what they were told? That question became a new question which really got me looking around and wondering: Is there such a thing as TRUTH? OR, is it all opinion? You have to admit that every person has a unique, individual Point of View. No one looks at the world through your eyes but YOU. So, opinions appear to be all there is…and maybe there is no essential, deeper, formless TRUTH? However, something in me felt that TRUTH does exist and that it is somehow back and behind the physical world. Here is where I went on a search for the formless, invisible, Spiritual Source of my BEING and I have a story to tell. In fact, I am beginning to write my second book about all this.

THANK YOU for reading this! I hope you will take a moment to think about the questions that YOU are asking. Also, if you can respond to my questions below and email me – I will appreciate it very much! 

QUESTION #1: How are you?

QUESTION #2: What concerns you about the world today?

QUESTION #3: If you are CURIOUS – what are your questions? 

_______________________________________________________________________
I look forward to hearing from you.  Thank you!

Sincerely,

Heather C. Williams, HWM
Artist, Author of Drawing as a Sacred Activity
High Watch Mentor with The Prosperos School of Ontology
Retired ART & Sp Ed middle school Teacher
www.drawingtogether.com
https://heathersdrawing.podbean.com/
https://www.instagram.com/heathersdrawing/
https://www.facebook.com/artist.awaken
The Power is within us! True Power is LOVE! ❤️ Let’s draw it out!

PS: On Sunday December 13, 2020, at 11:00 am Central time, I am giving a free talk on zoom about the value of CURIOSITY. Join me if you can! Here is the zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/848372474

Bio: Nelson Mandela

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (/mænˈdɛlə/;[1] Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as the president of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

Xhosa speaker, Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family in MvezoUnion of South Africa. He studied law at the University of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand before working as a lawyer in Johannesburg. There he became involved in anti-colonial and African nationalist politics, joining the ANC in 1943 and co-founding its Youth League in 1944. After the National Party‘s white-only government established apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged whites, he and the ANC committed themselves to its overthrow. Mandela was appointed president of the ANC’s Transvaal branch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the 1956 Treason Trial. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the banned South African Communist Party (SACP). Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 and led a sabotage campaign against the government. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1962, and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state following the Rivonia Trial.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, split between Robben IslandPollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. Amid growing domestic and international pressure, and with fears of a racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk led efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid, which resulted in the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became president. Leading a broad coalition government which promulgated a new constitution, Mandela emphasised reconciliation between the country’s racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Economically, Mandela’s administration retained its predecessor’s liberal framework despite his own socialist beliefs, also introducing measures to encourage land reformcombat poverty and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial and served as secretary-general of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. He declined a second presidential term and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman and focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the charitable Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the far-left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Thembu clan nameMadiba, and described as the “Father of the Nation“.

Early life

Childhood: 1918–1934

Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtata, then part of South Africa’s Cape Province.[2] Given the forename Rolihlahla,[3] a Xhosa term colloquially meaning “troublemaker”,[4] in later years he became known by his clan name, Madiba.[5] His patrilineal great-grandfather, Ngubengcuka, was king of the Thembu people in the Transkeian Territories of South Africa’s modern Eastern Cape province.[6] One of Ngubengcuka’s sons, named Mandela, was Nelson’s grandfather and the source of his surname.[7] Because Mandela was the king’s child by a wife of the Ixhiba clan, a so-called “Left-Hand House”, the descendants of his cadet branch of the royal family were morganatic, ineligible to inherit the throne but recognised as hereditary royal councillors.[8]

Nelson Mandela’s father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa Mandela (1880–1928), was a local chief and councillor to the monarch; he was appointed to the position in 1915, after his predecessor was accused of corruption by a governing white magistrate.[9] In 1926, Gadla was also sacked for corruption, but Nelson was told that his father had lost his job for standing up to the magistrate’s unreasonable demands.[10] A devotee of the god Qamata,[11] Gadla was a polygamist with four wives, four sons and nine daughters, who lived in different villages. Nelson’s mother was Gadla’s third wife, Nosekeni Fanny, daughter of Nkedama of the Right Hand House and a member of the amaMpemvu clan of the Xhosa.[12]No one in my family had ever attended school … On the first day of school my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an English name. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why this particular name I have no idea.

—Mandela, 1994[13]

Mandela later stated that his early life was dominated by traditional Thembu custom and taboo.[14] He grew up with two sisters in his mother’s kraal in the village of Qunu, where he tended herds as a cattle-boy and spent much time outside with other boys.[15] Both his parents were illiterate, but being a devout Christian, his mother sent him to a local Methodist school when he was about seven. Baptised a Methodist, Mandela was given the English forename of “Nelson” by his teacher.[16] When Mandela was about nine, his father came to stay at Qunu, where he died of an undiagnosed ailment which Mandela believed to be lung disease.[17] Feeling “cut adrift”, he later said that he inherited his father’s “proud rebelliousness” and “stubborn sense of fairness”.[18]

Mandela’s mother took him to the “Great Place” palace at Mqhekezweni, where he was entrusted to the guardianship of the Thembu regent, Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo. Although he did not see his mother again for many years, Mandela felt that Jongintaba and his wife Noengland treated him as their own child, raising him alongside their son, Justice, and daughter, Nomafu.[19] As Mandela attended church services every Sunday with his guardians, Christianity became a significant part of his life.[20] He attended a Methodist mission school located next to the palace, where he studied English, Xhosa, history and geography.[21] He developed a love of African history, listening to the tales told by elderly visitors to the palace, and was influenced by the anti-imperialist rhetoric of a visiting chief, Joyi.[22] Nevertheless, at the time he considered the European colonizers not as oppressors but as benefactors who had brought education and other benefits to southern Africa.[23] Aged 16, he, Justice and several other boys travelled to Tyhalarha to undergo the ulwaluko circumcision ritual that symbolically marked their transition from boys to men; afterwards he was given the name Dalibunga.[24]

Clarkebury, Healdtown, and Fort Hare: 1934–1940

Photograph of Mandela, taken in Umtata in 1937

Intending to gain skills needed to become a privy councillor for the Thembu royal house, in 1933 Mandela began his secondary education at Clarkebury Methodist High School in Engcobo, a Western-style institution that was the largest school for black Africans in Thembuland.[25] Made to socialise with other students on an equal basis, he claimed that he lost his “stuck up” attitude, becoming best friends with a girl for the first time; he began playing sports and developed his lifelong love of gardening.[26] He completed his Junior Certificate in two years,[27] and in 1937 moved to Healdtown, the Methodist college in Fort Beaufort attended by most Thembu royalty, including Justice.[28] The headmaster emphasised the superiority of European culture and government, but Mandela became increasingly interested in native African culture, making his first non-Xhosa friend, a speaker of Sotho, and coming under the influence of one of his favourite teachers, a Xhosa who broke taboo by marrying a Sotho.[29] Mandela spent much of his spare time at Healdtown as a long-distance runner and boxer, and in his second year he became a prefect.[30]

With Jongintaba’s backing, in 1939 Mandela began work on a BA degree at the University of Fort Hare, an elite black institution in Alice, Eastern Cape, with around 150 students. There he studied English, anthropology, politics, native administration, and Roman Dutch law in his first year, desiring to become an interpreter or clerk in the Native Affairs Department.[31] Mandela stayed in the Wesley House dormitory, befriending his own kinsman, K. D. Matanzima, as well as Oliver Tambo, who became a close friend and comrade for decades to come.[32] He took up ballroom dancing,[33] performed in a drama society play about Abraham Lincoln,[34] and gave Bible classes in the local community as part of the Student Christian Association.[35] Although he had friends which held connections to the African National Congress (ANC) who wanted South Africa to be independent of the British Empire, Mandela avoided any involvement with the nascent movement,[36] and became a vocal supporter of the British war effort when the Second World War broke out.[37] He helped to found a first-year students’ house committee which challenged the dominance of the second-years,[38] and at the end of his first year became involved in a Students’ Representative Council (SRC) boycott against the quality of food, for which he was suspended from the university; he never returned to complete his degree.[39]

Arriving in Johannesburg: 1941–1943

Returning to Mqhekezweni in December 1940, Mandela found that Jongintaba had arranged marriages for him and Justice; dismayed, they fled to Johannesburg via Queenstown, arriving in April 1941.[40] Mandela found work as a night watchman at Crown Mines, his “first sight of South African capitalism in action”, but was fired when the induna (headman) discovered that he was a runaway.[41] He stayed with a cousin in George Goch Township, who introduced Mandela to realtor and ANC activist Walter Sisulu. The latter secured Mandela a job as an articled clerk at the law firm of Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman, a company run by Lazar Sidelsky, a liberal Jew sympathetic to the ANC’s cause.[42] At the firm, Mandela befriended Gaur Radebe—a Xhosa member of the ANC and Communist Party—and Nat Bregman, a Jewish communist who became his first white friend.[43] Mandela attended Communist Party gatherings, where he was impressed that EuropeansAfricansIndians, and Coloureds mixed as equals. He later stated that he did not join the party because its atheism conflicted with his Christian faith, and because he saw the South African struggle as being racially based rather than as class warfare.[44] To continue his higher education, Mandela signed up to a University of South Africa correspondence course, working on his bachelor’s degree at night.[45]

Earning a small wage, Mandela rented a room in the house of the Xhoma family in the Alexandra township; despite being rife with poverty, crime and pollution, Alexandra always remained a special place for him.[46] Although embarrassed by his poverty, he briefly dated a Swazi woman before unsuccessfully courting his landlord’s daughter.[47] To save money and be closer to downtown Johannesburg, Mandela moved into the compound of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, living among miners of various tribes; as the compound was visited by various chiefs, he once met the Queen Regent of Basutoland.[48] In late 1941, Jongintaba visited Johannesburg—there forgiving Mandela for running away—before returning to Thembuland, where he died in the winter of 1942. Mandela and Justice arrived a day late for the funeral.[49] After he passed his BA exams in early 1943, Mandela returned to Johannesburg to follow a political path as a lawyer rather than become a privy councillor in Thembuland.[50] He later stated that he experienced no epiphany, but that he “simply found [himself] doing so, and could not do otherwise.”[51]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela#:~:text=He%20grew%20up%20with%20two,when%20he%20was%20about%20seven.

Is Enlightenment Really Possible?

By Craig Hamilton

November 27, 2020 (craighamiltonglobal.com)

As a teacher of Direct Awakening, one of the questions I hear most often is, “Is Enlightenment really possible?” 

Of course, it doesn’t always come phrased in such simple terms. 

But, however it is expressed, the question so many of us are asking is, “Can I really elevate my consciousness and my life into a consistent, sustained expression of the profound depth I’ve glimpsed in my most sacred moments?”

Is it possible, in other words, to be truly free, unconditionally awake to the sacred depth that is our own true nature beyond the mind and ego?

When we started out on the spiritual path, most of us had a sense that an extraordinary spiritual transformation was possible—a radical realignment at the deepest levels of our being that would not only liberate us from personal suffering but would infuse our life with a sacred, cosmic sense of meaning, purpose and wholeness.

Yet after years or even decades of working on ourselves, many of us have begun to doubt whether that initial intuition of our higher potential was more fantasy than reality.

As a spiritual teacher, I’ve come to realize that one of my jobs is to remind us all of the unimaginable potential that we know in our heart of hearts to be real, yet that we all too often forget in the face of life’s challenges, disappointments and complexities.

So, I’m writing today to simply affirm that the highest possibility you’ve glimpsed, the most glorious potential you’ve sensed, is not a figment of your imagination but a real living possibility. 

And even more than that is possible.

It is possible for life to make perfect sense. It’s possible for
YOUR life to make perfect sense. 

It’s possible to come into such profound alignment with the moral and spiritual axis of the universe that every moment of your life is a walk in grace, and a living demonstration of the mysterious, inherent goodness of the life process itself.

It’s possible to awaken so deeply to the sacred evolutionary impulse at the heart of existence that our words, actions and choices become a dynamic expression of the highest possibility there is. 

And in this transformation, it’s possible to discover an unimaginable and abiding liberation from the suffering of the confused, neurotic, separate sense of self. 

It’s possible, in other words, to be truly free.

What I’m speaking about is a completely different kind of human life than most of us have ever encountered. 

This is not simply about “being in the now” or “loving and accepting what is in every moment.” 

It is not about simply accessing a more expansive state of
awareness or being able to stand back and abide as the “witness” of all that arises. 

All of these are good experiences to have and important capacities to cultivate. But I’m speaking about something more. 

I’m pointing to authentic spiritual awakening in which the ego has been radically overridden by the Ultimate principle, by the creative force of the cosmos, by the infinite depth that is none other than our own true nature.

It’s a life in which our endless quest for self-fulfillment has been replaced by a passion to give everything to bringing our life into alignment with the sacred perfection we’ve discovered in our deepest moments. 

In this ultimate submission to and alignment with the Absolute, we become a living, breathing force for higher evolution and awakening.

This changes our relationship to being alive in unimaginable
ways.

Experientially, we find ourself in a state of profound receptivity and openness. A deep and abiding simplicity pervades our life, and an ongoing sense of flow permeates every moment. 

We have let go of identification with the mind and abandoned any attachment to the self, enabling us to live as a transparent, vibrant vessel for the Infinite. 

Amidst this profound openness, there is remarkable mental clarity at times, but there is no clinging onto that clarity. 

Insights come and go, but there is the knowledge that “I can’t hold onto any of this,” and so there is no grasping onto certainty. 

Yet in moments when clarity is needed, it miraculously appears, integrating all of our knowledge and lived experience in a flash of intuitive knowing. 

Spiritual experiences come and go, too, but there is no longer any clinging to ecstasy, bliss or love. We have discovered the source of all these things, and so feel no compulsion to cling to them. 

More importantly, and contrary to popular belief, we awaken to a profound awareness of what we might call the heart of the cosmos. 

We feel, in a sense, for the Whole of Life. We feel the pain of the whole and the joy of the whole as our own pain and our own joy. We become a seeing, sensing, feeling organ of Reality itself. 

And at the center of our being is a burning passion for evolution
and transformation, a calling to transform the world into an
expression of the great perfection we have discovered to be its source.

All of this may sound very lofty and beyond reach, but I want to make it clear that this is not a pipe dream drawn from ancient books. 

This is a real and living possibility for each of us. This is what human life—your life—can become.

Now, just because it’s possible to awaken to this radically
different kind of life does not mean that it’s easy. Indeed, what
I’m describing is without question the most challenging endeavor a human being can undertake. 

We have to recognize that, even if we feel deeply that we want to Awaken to our true nature, there is a big part of us that wants nothing to do with that. A part of us that desperately wants to maintain control, to keep our life small and manageable and safe.

So, if we want our life to change that profoundly, we have to come to terms with what we’re doing here. This means cultivating a clear and unwavering intention to awaken and to bring our life into alignment with what we discover in that awakening. 

Cultivating a profound intention is one of the pillars we work with in all of my training programs, and is the starting point of my Practice of Direct Awakening course. 

But you can begin this inquiry on your own right now by experimenting with the following exercises. Any of these exercises can be engaged as a silent contemplation, as a journal exercise, or as a dialogue with a trusted spiritual friend. 

  1. Tomorrow morning, before you do anything else, take 10 minutes and contemplate what you are really living for. Ask yourself: what is the most important thing in life? What is of ultimate significance? And what do I need to do to align with that—to be an expression of that in the world? Don’t simply ask these questions with your mind. Ask them with your whole being, as if your life depended on it.
     
  2. Then, tomorrow evening, take another 10 minutes, and again ask yourself: What is the most important thing in life? What is of ultimate significance? Did I do everything I could today to live in accord with my own deepest knowing of what matters most, to align with my highest potential? Where could I have given more?

    Then, ask yourself: What would I need to give up or let go of to be able to align with my own deepest knowing of what is most important? When will I be ready to leave that behind?
     
  3. If you have a meditation practice, engage the following contemplation practice prior to meditating:
    Reflect on the reason you entered the spiritual path in the first place. What was it that compelled you to seek a deeper, more meaningful, more enlightened life? What did you sense was possible for human life? What was it that pulled on your soul? Allow yourself to be naked before the purity and vulnerability of this calling. Does this longing connect you to something larger than yourself? Can you recognize that, in its essence, this longing is not your longing to bring something into your life, but is in fact a profound and sacred mystery longing for your participation in its unfolding in the world? Allow yourself to feel the deepest yearning of the Cosmos beckoning for your attention, calling to you to become a vessel for its manifestation in time and space. Enter into your meditation practice rooted in the intention to give all of yourself to the practice in surrender to this greater calling.

Cultivating a powerful intention to Awaken is one of the most important foundations for any genuine spiritual practice.

Even for those of us who have done a great deal of spiritual work on ourselves, taking time to continue to reflect on the extraordinary significance of awakening—not just for ourselves, but for the potential it represents for all of us—can be a powerful source of fuel for our practice.

If engaged consistently and in earnest, these practices can propel us far beyond the obstacles we currently perceive to be blocking our way, and into a dynamic living awakening to the immense sacred potential that called us onto the path in the first place.

A playful exploration of gender performance

Jo Michael Rezes|TEDxTufts (ted.com)

English transcription by Ivana Korom. Reviewed by Camille Martínez.

From the stage to everyday life, theater educator Jo Michael Rezes studies queer identity and the spectrum of gender performance — in its success and failure. Aided by a delightful introduction of campy charm, Rezes explores the freeing potential of playing with gender to better understand ourselves, each other and the spaces we inhabit.

This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxTufts, an independent event. TED’s editors chose to feature it for you.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Jo Michael Rezes · Performer, directorJo Michael Rezes creates theatre in collaboration with inspiring artists scattered between fringe and professional companies.

December 21, 2020: AGE OF AQUARIUS BEGINS

by Astro Butterfly (astrobutterly.com)

On December 21st, 2020 we have the most important astrological event of the century: Jupiter and Saturn meet at 0° Aquarius, marking the beginning of a new 200-year Air ERA.

Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions are the most important conjunctions in astrology, since Jupiter and Saturn are the largest planets in our solar system. Even astronomers call Jupiter conjunct Saturn “The Great Conjunction”!

And what’s even more amazing about THIS conjunction, is that Jupiter and Saturn will be closer than they have ever been, since 1623. Just watch Jupiter and Saturn getting closer and closer with your own eyes (you can observe them after sunset, in the western sky).

Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions have always correlated with important historical events and cultural shifts. It is believed that the “star of Bethlehem” that indicated the birth of Jesus was the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction that occurred in 7 BCE in the sign of Pisces.

It is now well accepted that approximately 2000 years ago we transitioned from the Age of Aries into the Age of Pisces. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Counting 2000 years forward, we now have the first Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius in centuries. This event may well mark the much-awaited transition into the Age of Aquarius.

What’s extremely interesting is that this conjunction occurs exactly at 0° Aquarius. Not at 5°, 11°, or 28°. There is something very powerful about the 0° degree of a sign: this is where the energy of that sign is in its purest form, and it is also where it has full manifestation power.

To tap into the manifesting power of Jupiter conjunct Saturn in Aquarius we created a special project for astrology lovers around the globe: the AGE OF AQUARIUS Community.

On December 21st, just when Jupiter is conjunct Saturn, the “AGE OF AQUARIUS Community” officially opens its doors. AGE OF AQUARIUS is a membership program that will bring us together at this monumental shift we are so lucky to witness in our lifetimes.

To learn more about AGE OF AQUARIUS, make sure you click the link below to express interest, so that I know you want to receive more information about the program closer to the date:

Save the date: AGE OF AQUARIUS

Making New Memories (Juliet Grayson)

Renegade Ape Juliet Grayson joins us to discuss (get ready for it…) Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor, a unique form of therapy designed to help clients identify emotional deficits and create ‘new memories’ using therapeutic role play scenarios known as “structures”. *** SHOW NOTES *** https://mowe.blog/podcast/making-new-… *** PATREON *** https://patreon.com/mowe *** BOOKS MENTIONED *** “Landscapes of the Heart: The Working World of a Sex and Relationship Therapist” https://amzn.to/2KXcsOx *** CREDITS *** Theme Music: Chopping the Piano by Ryan Little https://youtube.com/user/TheR4C2010 Podcast Image: Marco Nürnberger https://flic.kr/p/FvQrxX DISCLAIMER: My Own Worst Enemy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk and affiliated sites.

Book: “Keeping Together in Time”

Keeping Together in Time

Keeping Together in Time

by William H. McNeill 

Could something as simple and seemingly natural as falling into step have marked us for evolutionary success? In Keeping Together in Time one of the most widely read and respected historians in America pursues the possibility that coordinated rhythmic movement–and the shared feelings it evokes–has been a powerful force in holding human groups together.As he has done for historical phenomena as diverse as warfare, plague, and the pursuit of power, William H. McNeill brings a dazzling breadth and depth of knowledge to his study of dance and drill in human history. From the records of distant and ancient peoples to the latest findings of the life sciences, he discovers evidence that rhythmic movement has played a profound role in creating and sustaining human communities. The behavior of chimpanzees, festival village dances, the close-order drill of early modern Europe, the ecstatic dance-trances of shamans and dervishes, the goose-stepping Nazi formations, the morning exercises of factory workers in Japan–all these and many more figure in the bold picture McNeill draws. A sense of community is the key, and shared movement, whether dance or military drill, is its mainspring. McNeill focuses on the visceral and emotional sensations such movement arouses, particularly the euphoric fellow-feeling he calls “muscular bonding.” These sensations, he suggests, endow groups with a capacity for cooperation, which in turn improves their chance of survival.

(Goodreads.com)

San Francisco moves to preserve Lyon-Martin home

Oct 2, 2020 | (dallasvoice.com)

Interior of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin home

San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman introduced a resolution to initiate landmark designation for the longtime home of pioneering lesbian activists

SAN FRANCISCO — On Tuesday, Sept. 29, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman introduced a resolution to designate the former home of pioneering LGBTQ and civil rights activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin as a local historic landmark.

“Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were trailblazers in the LGBTQ rights movement, co-founding the first lesbian political organization in the country in the 1950s and becoming the first same-sex couple legally married in California,” said Mandelman who is the only LGBTQ member of the Board of Supervisors and represents the Noe Valley neighborhood
where the home is located. “The home they shared for more than half a century was the site of many community gatherings and has clear historic value that needs to be preserved and memorialized.”

The resolution was prompted by the recent sale of the property where Martin and Lyon lived together and nurtured a movement from 1955 until Martin’s death in 2008, and where Lyon remained until her death this April. The home, a 750 square foot cottage atop a steep hill in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, sold for $2.25 million last month. The property, a double lot that remains mostly undeveloped, offers a stunning view of the city skyline and was advertised as “the very last parcel of land atop Noe Valley” and “truly the last of its kind.” The centrally located Noe Valley neighborhood has seen a rash of redevelopment in recent years featuring large, luxury homes that routinely sell for $6 million and above and often replace modest homes originally built in the early parts of the 20th century, like the Lyon-Martin house.

Lesbian icons Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin in their home

The sale caught the attention of Shayne Watson, a historian who co-wrote San Francisco’s LGBTQ Historic Context Statement in 2016. “I was alarmed when I saw an article about the sale touting how profitable it would be to redevelop the property,” said Watson. “The Lyon-Martin house is not only one of the most significant queer sites in the city, but a place of international importance – truly a birthplace of LGBTQ-rights movements worldwide.”

“The home of Lesbian icons and human rights leaders Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin in San Francisco is vital to LGBTQ as well as San Francisco and American history,” said Dr. Marcia Gallo, professor emerita at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and author of Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movements. “From the mid-1950s to 2020, with its large open living room windows looking out on the city they loved so dearly, the Lyon-Martin House not only sheltered them and their family and friends but also welcomed activists, journalists, politicians and other change-makers throughout the nation and the world.”

Lyon and Martin, journalists who met when they were living in Seattle before moving back to San Francisco to live together in 1953, would continue as trailblazers across many social issues. This included the founding of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian rights organization in the United States which published the nationally-distributed newsletter The Ladder, hosted national conventions, and organized private social gatherings that were the only places for lesbians to gather freely at the time. In 1964, they helped found Citizen Alert, an early policy watchdog program focused on police brutality and unequal law enforcement. In 1976, Martin published Battered Wives, one of the earliest books on domestic violence published in the United States. In 1995, they were appointed to the White House Conference on Aging by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. In 2004, they became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in San Francisco when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the City Clerk to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Whether it was as godmothers of the lesbian rights movement, NCLR’s lead plaintiffs in the California marriage equality case, or role models to multiple generations of queer kids, Del and Phyllis embodied the integrity and courage our country needs,” said Imani Rupert Gordon, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

That preservation effort was spearheaded by Watson, who brought together historians, friends and former caregivers of Lyon and Martin, and members of the broader queer community to establish the Friends of the Lyon-Martin House in partnership with the GLBT Historical Society, and now with the backing of Mandelman.

“Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin’s papers are among the largest and most important collections in the GLBT Historical Society archives, and clearly document the historic significance of the Lyon-Martin House,” said Terry Beswick, Executive Director of the Historical Society.

“It’s simply a cultural treasure for San Franciscans and for all LGBTQ people, and I applaud my colleague Shayne Watson for calling attention to this timely issue, and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman for leading the charge to landmark the site.”

The resolution introduced by Mandelman is the beginning of the formal designation process. The resolution will be voted on later in October by the Board of Supervisors, and then forwarded the City’s Planning Department and Historic Preservation Commission, which will have 90 days to issue a recommendation. The Board would then take final action to designate the landmark, which would require consultation with the Historic Preservation Commission for future development and uses of the property.

“I’m proud to do whatever I can to preserve this history, and I look forward to working with community leaders and those who knew Phyllis, Del and their home firsthand to honor their legacy and this special piece of San Francisco,” said Mandelman.