Last Wednesday I wrote about the “bubble” each of usl lives in and how media and social networking thicken our personal bubbles. Click here for a reminder. A perfect score of 100 on the bubble test indicates you draw from a wide spectrum of sources to form your opinion. I got a 72.
April 19, NPR’s On Being aired a segment called “The World is our Field of Practice.” I am fond of On Being because the host, Krista Tippett, interviews a range of people about their faith and spirituality. Her guest was Reverend angel Kyodo Williams. According to Krista:
She’s one of our wisest voices on social evolution and the spiritual aspect of social healing. angel Kyodo Williams is an esteemed Zen priest and the second black woman ever recognized as a teacher in the Japanese Zen lineage. To sink into conversation with her is to imagine and nourish a transformative potential of this moment towards human wholeness.
Rev. Williams believes that we’re at a tipping point. Unlike many who are uncomfortable with the separation that we feel, Rev. Williams says:
There is something dying in our society, in our culture, and there’s something dying in us individually. And what is dying, I think, is the willingness to be in denial. And that is extraordinary. It’s always been happening, and when it happens in enough of us, in a short enough period of time at the same time, then you have a tipping point, and the culture begins to shift. And then, what I feel like people are at now is, “No, no, bring it on. I have to face it — we have to face it.”
About thirty minutes into the interview, Rev. Williams presents me with an A-ha moment. I was driving while I listened, but it had enough of an impact on me that when I got home, I googled it and jotted down the essence and read it to Love-One first and then to some of my friends. “People who inhabit an inherited identity based on a fixed place are up against people who are oriented by movement and spaciousness,” I continue to read from my notes. [tweetthis]”Everything is shifting faster than people can take in and adjust, which is uncomfortable.”[/tweetthis]
“Yes, exactly!” Love-One said. “That explains so much.”
For me, that explains why people close to me, even my siblings, are at odds. If we feel our survival is based on location, for example the coal mines of Virginia, we strive to support the sameness and want to keep things as they are. On the other hand, if we base our world view on spaciousness, we are more likely to be curious about different cultures and locales, and resist those who view life otherwise.
Rev. Williams goes on to explain that love is the only way to break through these identity orientations.
It is developing our own capacity for spaciousness within ourselves to allow others to be as they are — that that is love. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t have hopes or wishes that things are changed or shifted, but that to come from a place of love is to be in acceptance of what is, even in the face of moving it towards something that is more whole, more just, more spacious for all of us. It’s bigness. It’s allowance. It’s flexibility…
I think that those things are missed when we shortcut talking about King, or we shortcut talking about Gandhi, or we shortcut talking about what Aung San Suu Kyi was doing at some point. We leave out the aspects of their underlying motivation for moving things, and we make it about policies and advocacy, when really it is about expanding our capacity for love, as a species.
Rev. Williams closes by challenging all of us:
Our teachers — as much as we love our embodied teachers that come in flesh and bone and sit on cushions — are really the people, the situations that we confront moment to moment, day to day, month to month, year to year, that incite a sense of discomfort, dis-ease, awkwardness in us. And rather than seeing those moments as threats to who we are, if we could reorient, if we could center in our relationship to ourselves as evolving, fluid, ever-expansive creatures whose role is to be in observation of: What is that? What has that inspired? What has that called forth in me, that discomfort that is speaking to something that feels solid and fixed and is now challenged in its location? — if we could do that, if we could live our lives in a way in which we understand that our deepest learning, our deepest capacity for growth comes not from walling ourselves off from the things that make us feel a sense of threat or discomfort or out of alignment or out of sorts, but rather, figuring out what is speaking to us when we feel those things, and what do we have to learn from that teacher that is embodied in that situation, that moment — not so that we become something different than who we are, but that we’re evolving into a greater and greater sense of what it means to be fully human, to be radically, completely in the truth of the human experience and all of its complexities.
Wow! Rev. angel Kyodo Williams is so inspiring. You can listen to her whole talk with Krista Tippett click here.
And here’s a TedTalk from 2016 where Rev. Williams talks about her personal journey and how love and justice are intertwined:
What do you think? Can we love people without liking them? Maybe love is not always enough. And, I agree that without love we cannot change someone. Can we do it with love? I hope so.