News for

2019-01-15

Music: Sun Jan 20


Music from a variety of African-American traditions is featured this Sunday morning in honor of Dr. Martin Luther Day. The Centering Music includes arrangements from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Twenty-Four Negro Melodies” of orally-transmitted songs from the U. S. and the African continent, followed by a popular “rag” by Scott Joplin. The Offertory is a jazz favorite by the legendary Errol Garner. The CUUC Choir is also on hand with music from Native American and East-African traditions, all in keeping with Dr. King’s vision for a more inclusive society.
Read on for programming details.


Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
“Let Us Cheer the Weary Traveler”
                                    Traditional Spiritual, arr. by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Take Nabandji
                                    Traditional South East African, arr. by Coleridge-Taylor
Maple Leaf Rag
                                    Scott Joplin

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
Now I Walk In Beauty  
 Navajo Prayer, arr. by Gregg

Offertory:
“Twilight”
                                                            Errol Garner

Anthem:
Siyahamba
                                                            South African Freedom Song          

2019-01-11

From the Minister, Fri Jan 11

This week I'm reflecting on Adam Robersmith's essay, "Cherishing Our World: Avoiding Despair in Environmental Justice Work" -- Chapter 5 of the 2018-19 UUA Common Read, Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class and the Environment.

The situation is dire, Robersmith reminds us:
“We are affecting our climate and ecosystem in ways that are detrimental to life on the planet and to how we live….We should have changed as a nation long ago, yet we have not….Research shows that our acts disproportionately affect the poor and oppressed all over the world, yet we continue to use harmful technologies and resources.”
Trying to scare people into changing behaviors and policies hasn’t worked terribly well. Robersmith is reminded of our Universalist ancestors. When the predominant theology used fear (of hell) to induce righteousness, our ancestors pointed out:
“The preaching of future rewards and punishments, for the purpose of inducing people to love God and moral virtue, is not only useless, but pernicious.” (Hosea Ballou, 1834)
Rather than extrinsic punishments or rewards, argued Ballou, we ought to preach that God and moral virtue are intrinsically worthy and lovely.

Along similar lines, Robersmith urges that the value of the environment lies not in financial measures or apocalypse prevention. Rather, it is intrinsically worthy and lovely.
“If we, as a nation, a people, or a species, loved this planet as our Universalist ancestors understood loving God, we would have already made so many different choices about how we live on this Earth and with each other.”
In particular, by turning away from fear-based arguments about economies and catastrophes threatening all humanity, we can, instead, attend to localized effects on marginalized populations: mountaintop removal and strip mining degrade environments of poor communities; water poisoned with pollutants flows disproportionately into poorer communities of color; for example.

What Robersmith doesn’t mention is nonattachment to results. Of course, we should as lovingly and as rationally as possible discern strategies most likely to succeed, but sometimes we’ll guess wrong, and other times, even when our strategy has the best odds of success, we will still fail. Plan carefully for success, then let go of attachment to whether success happens. “The victory is in the doing,” as Gandhi said – not in the outcome.

“Turning off the water while brushing our teeth,” says Robersmith, “makes a difference and is a necessary next act.” But this is either hyperbole or fantasy. If it’s necessary, then one person failing to turn off the water one time means the planet is doomed. In fact, one person saving one quart of water per brush does not, in itself, make any measurable difference to the Earth – especially here in New York where water is plentiful. But it makes a difference to the one who does it. Practices of care change us even if they don’t change the planet. And if we are changed, we are more likely to influence others and do things that do make a difference. The victory, to repeat, is in the doing.

In leaving out the role of nonattachment to results, the risk is that we may disavow fear-mongering only to find ourselves mongering shame.

For my reflections on previous chapters, click the title:
  1. Jennifer Nordstrom, "Intersectionality, Faith, and Environmental Justice"
  2. Paula Cole Jones, "The Formation of the Environmental Justice Movement"
  3. Sheri Prud'homme, "Ecotheology"
  4. Sofia Betancourt, "Ethical Implications of Environmental Justice"
Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit New:Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE

Practice of the Week: Simplify /Our lives are complicated. E-mails, phone calls, working long hours. Carrying the kids to music lessons, soccer practice, play dates or scouts – church. It’s a fast culture and just trying to match the velocity of others makes life hectic. Can we make our life simpler? READ MORE.

Your Moment of Zen: The Essence /You may recall, as told in #1, that Jackrabbit was the first teacher Raven visited. Asked what the Buddha Macaw realized when she saw the morning star, Jackrabbit said, "the truth of mutually dependent arising." It turns out Raven picked up a few other teachings from Jackrabbit before moving on to Prairie Dog.

When Zen teachers of old did the repetition thing (as in the case below -- albeit with a little twist), several things are probably going on. One of them is that repetition renders the words "flavorless" -- a strategy for not getting all wrapped up in the words and concepts. It shifts the emphasis from meaning to doing: saying these words is just something we do. It's a reminder that there is no meaning for words outside of the context of what we do with them.

"The mind is compassion and its essence has no qualities." Show me how you live that!

Case
One evening Owl asked, "I've heard that Jackrabbit Roshi said that the mind has no qualities and its essence is compassion. What do you think of that?"
Raven said, "The mind is compassion and its essence has no qualities."
Hotetsu's Verse
Compassion is not a quality.
So I put it to you,
Didactically, as if it were
A thing you could believe
Or that I could.

Yesterday I did, and tomorrow will, speak
Of compassion as if it were a quality --
Of a person, or an act --
As if it were a thing glommed on
That might not have been there,
That could disappear in a mean moment,
That the discovery of ulteriority
   could render fraudulent;
As if it were an ethic.
Today I speak differently.

Compassion is ontological, not ethical.
It is the stuff reality is made of.

So I intone, all professorial,
As if you should be taking notes,
As if I should apologize.

Outside there is the winter mountain
Made of rock and soil, trees and snow.
No qualities there either,
I whisper. Or was that you?
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
Zen at CUUC, Sat Jan 12: HERE

2019-01-10

Religious Education News: Jan 13

Last week it was my great privilege and joy to conduct the Children’s Service for K-5. I was really looking forward to this “solo” event and I was not disappointed. In following the theme of Simplicity, we held a discussion group about what simplicity means and what gifts the students received or what they did that was “simple” yet made them happy. Getting a Lego kit was definitely a front runner and someone’s lucky dog got fed! The kids drew pictures of the things we talked about and there were some great artistic interpretations. It is so heartwarming to experience the honesty of our children, as I did when I wrote the word “Leggo” on the flip chart and was immediately taken to task for misspelling. Who knew?

We then proceeded to join in a circle sitting on the floor where I introduced the book The Rainbow Fish. This rainbow fish was beautiful, covered with multi-colored scales, but he had no friends as he was haughty and proud. (One of the children said he was conceited and thought he was better than everyone else.) Another fish begged for just one scale, which the rainbow fish finally agreed to give, and then felt very strange. Before he knew it he had given away all his prized scales yet was happy for the first time. Now he was invited to join the other fish and play. After the story another child mentioned that his family gathered items for gifts to be given to people who had nothing at the holiday.

The message of simplicity was articulately expressed by a number of children. Not too wordy, not too superfluous, just clear and focused and right on mark. They had a clear understanding of the gratification of having less yet having so much when one thinks of others and shares. The lesson was simple yet spilled over with the values of family and being a UU. I could not help but think of the song by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, “Teach Your Children Well,” whose lyrics echo the line from the Shema, the important Jewish Prayer, “And you shall teach [these words] diligently to your children…”

You, who are on the road,
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye
Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.”

The "road" is life's journey that we must all go through, during which we seek the truth of our existence, which may never be found. That doesn't matter despite our struggles. What does matter is the joy of living and loving and letting both parent and child be who they are without trying to fix what is not broken. The song lyrics are a road map for accepting people as they are and simply having gratitude for the experience of being. Do not let the trappings of materialism and power suffocate our basic goodness and compassion. This congregation has taught our children well…

Michele Rinaldi
Religious Education Coordinator

Looking ahead...

RE This Sunday, Jan 13
Grades K-5 start in Fellowship Hall for Children's Worship
Grades 6-12 start in classrooms

Religious Education Special Friends Sign Up
We invite you to join us for this pen pal program that anonymously matches children and adults in the congregation so they get to know each other better. After exchanging six letters over nine weeks, the pen pals get to meet at the Canvass Community Meal on Sun Mar 31. The letter exchanges begin on Sun Jan 27. Please email RE@cucwp.org to sign up.

Faith Development Friday, Fri Jan 11
Our evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. 6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner; 7:00pm Programs; 8:30pm Coffee. Programs include Adult RE and Family Journey Group. Adults may also just come for a slice and unstructured social time together. All are welcome to stay after the programs to share coffee and a chat. RSVP to CUUCevents@gmail.com by 12:00 noon on Fri Jan 11.

In the Community - Family Friendly MLK Events

Interfaith Community Concert in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Sun Jan 13, 4:00pm, Congregation Kol Ami, 252 Soundview Avenue, White Plains
This annual concert combines singers and musicians from many faiths and communities, and includes the “Adhan” Muslim call to prayer, the Calvary Baptist Church Inspirational Choir, The LOFT LGBT Community Center’s Pride Chorus, and the Shinnyo-en Buddhist Temple Ceremonial Taiko Drums & Choir. Sponsored by The Interfaith Connection and Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Nonviolence. Free event. Refreshments. Info: connect@mlkwestchester.org, 914-949-6555.

“The Dream Is Still Alive: Remembering Dr. King with Songs for Peace, Justice, and Equality,” Jim Scott in Concert, Fri Jan 18, 7:30pm, UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester, 236 S Bedford Rd, Mt Kisco
Jim Scott, composer of “Gather the Spirit” and other UU hymns, will lead a participatory songfest of music celebrating the ideals that Dr. Martin Luther King championed. More about Jim at jimscottmusic.com. Sliding Scale Admission $12-20. Purchase tickets at jimscottatuufnw.brownpapertickets.com.

Bookfair to Benefit the MLK Freedom Library, Mon Jan 21, 11:00am – 4:00pm, Barnes & Noble, 230 Main Street, City Center, White Plains OR online
Come to Barnes & Noble for a day of activities - OR - order items online from Jan 19 to Jan 24 at barnesandnoble.com/bookfairs and enter ID #12464053 at checkout. Purchases benefit the MLK Freedom Library. Flyer at mlkwestchester.org/events-1.

2019-01-09

Music: Sun Jan 13


CUUC Choir pianist Georgianna Pappas provides music from classical and popular traditions, treating us to her vocal accomplishments as well during the Interlude. Kim Force also offers a moving selection by Joni Mitchell. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Georgianna Pappas, piano
Prelude in C Major, W.T.C.  Book 2
Prelude in C Minor, W.T.C.  Book 1
Prelude in E-flat Major, W.T.C.  Book 2
Prelude in E Major, W.T.C.  Book 2
                                                            J. S. Bach

Opening Music:
Prelude in C Major, W.T.C.  Book 1
                                                            J. S. Bach
                       
Offertory: Kim Force, vocals
“Both Sides Now”                 
Joni Mitchell
                                           
Interlude:
“My Dear Acquaintance”                
Lyrics by Peggy Lee, Music by Paul Horner




2019-01-03

From the Minister, Thu Jan 3

This week I'm reflecting on Sofia Betancourt's essay, "Ethical Implications of Environmental Justice" -- Chapter 4 of the 2018-19 UUA Common Read, Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class and the Environment.

Betancourt got me thinking about the whiteness of the American environmental movement. Searching around, I learned that a survey released 2018 Oct
“found that about one-third of African-Americans, half of whites, and two-thirds of Latinos and Asians consider themselves to be environmentalists.” (Anthropocene, 2018 Oct 30)
OK, so environmentalism is not just a white people’s thing. But it is perceived that way. The survey also found that
“across racial and ethnic groups, people tended to underestimate how concerned people of color are about the environment, and overestimate how concerned white people are.” (Anthropocene, 2018 Oct 30)
Indeed, mainstream environmentalist organizations – groups like the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Nature Conservancy – have, through their long history, consisted largely of upper- and middle-class whites focused on protecting wilderness areas. These groups have made the face of US environmentalism disproportionately white. More to the point, their focus -- protecting wilderness areas – has racial justice implications.

Consider the question of where to put waste facilities, landfills, dumps, and the most polluting industries. We clearly aren’t going to put them in wealthy, white neighborhoods. So (until we find a way to eliminate such pollution sources), that leaves two options: put them in poorer and darker-skinned neighborhoods, or put them out in an area away from human habitation. The historically predominantly-white environmental organizations (Sierra Club, NRDC, etc) work to keep industries, landfills, etc. from encroaching on our uninhabited areas -- thereby unwittingly pushing toxic pollution into poorer, black or Latino neighborhoods.

Betancourt cautions against
“a perilous tendency to sacrifice entire populations of our human family in the name of acting quickly.”
Black and brown folks’
“experiences of environmental racism and injustice are erased by a movement born out of an imagined pristine wilderness empty of humanity.”
She cites Aldo Leopold’s ethic –
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
This influential principle, however, says nothing about environmental justice. It tends to treat “humanity” as a monolith – something to rein in for the sake of the planet. Instead -- or, rather, in addition -- we must attend to how consequences and risks of environmental destruction are unequally distributed within the human population.

Questions
  • Our first principle commits us to the worth and dignity of all – and thus to combat racism. Our seventh principle commits us respect the interdependent web – and thus to combat environmental harm. How do you balance and honor both of these imperatives in your spiritual life?
  • American individualism weakens the ethic of mutual care and engagement necessary for honoring the dignity of all. What are your relationships with communities of color? How might you reach out and deepen those relationships, from an ethic of care and mutuality?
Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit New:
Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE

Practice of the Week: Maintain Joy and Humor /Slogan to Live By. This is a slogan for assessment. Working with it is not a matter of pressuring ourselves to feel joy all the time. When we aren't joyful, when we're depressed or bitter, we need to know that we feel that way, not cover it up with a veneer of fake spiritual joy because someone says we should. The point is that we assess our situation with this slogan, Maintain Joy and Humor. We notice when we have joy and humor and when we don't. When we don't, we know how to work with our mind to adjust. READ MORE.

Your Moment of Zen: The Self /The self is passion. You don't need to think about your passion too much -- just have it, and watch it. I won't say embody it, since you can't not. I will say: if you take it for real, it can wear you out.

Case
Badger came to Raven privately and asked, "What is the self?"
Raven said, "Passion."
Badger asked, "Why are we told to forget it?"
Raven said, "Forget it!"
Badger said, "That's scary."
Raven croaked.
Badger sat back on his haunches and was silent.
Raven said, "Now I'm tired."
Verse
This mouth opens, and out I come:
A draft of air and jetsam.
The air: warm, moist, de-oxygenated.
The jetsam: vocabulary, syntax, accent, tone, and
Voice that could be no one else's,
Tossed from foundering meanings.

This mouth opens, and out I come:
A current of particularity and karmic goo,
Not at all the luminous seaworthy universality,
I dreamed sailing into port.

When I'm not thinking this way,
When dreams of absoluteness are wakened from,
Or the wreckage recognized as their realization,
Then this mouth opens, and out I come, and
Maybe my eddies of debris and yours
Dance.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
Zen at CUUC, Sat Jan 5: HERE

Religious Education News: Jan 6

Happy New Year… happy new year... and so it goes. We keep hearing this wish from family and friends, but do we really reflect on its meaning? The operative word appears to be new with the ever-looming presence of the new year Grinch: resolution. We’re all going to go that extra mile and lose weight; we will adopt better eating habits; exercise will become our new friend; we’ll learn new skills; and the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder we charge from the gate with the best of intentions, yet more often than not stumble and even fail, and what we are left with is disappointment. Think about it: don’t we want to be better people and better models for our children? So your pants are a little tight, get elastic. So you can’t run the 5K, take a brisk walk. Eating healthy is boring, so go to McDonald’s only once per month. My point: shine on the inside as a Unitarian Universalist and ultimately you shine on the outside, too. Be kinder, more compassionate, and have respect for other people – and animals as well. Teach your children by example if you truly wish them to behave like you. Make this year and the years that follow a gift, not one year older, not another year of failure, but instead a miraculous second chance to hug your children, be kind to your spouse, to sit down and break bread as a family. Most of all resolve to love with all your being so that love spills over to the community of humankind. Toss away your regrets, the should have/could haves that haunt you, and focus on what’s right in front of you… community, congregation, family, friends, faith, and love.

Michele Rinaldi
Religious Education Coordinator

Looking ahead...

This Sunday in RE, Jan 6
Grades K-5 start in the Fellowship Hall for Children's Worship. Grades 6-12 start in classrooms.

Religious Education Special Friends Sign Up
We invite you to join us for this pen pal program that anonymously matches children and adults in the congregation so they get to know each other better. After exchanging six letters over nine weeks, the pen pals get to meet at the Canvass Community Meal on Sun Mar 31. The letter exchanges begin on Sun Jan 27. Please email RE@cucwp.org to sign up.

Faith Development Friday, Fri Jan 11
Our evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. 6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner; 7:00pm Programs; 8:30pm Coffee. Programs include Adult RE and Family Journey Group. Adults may also just come for a slice and unstructured social time together. All are welcome to stay after the programs to share coffee and a chat. RSVP to CUUCevents@gmail.com by 12:00 noon on Fri Jan 11.

In the Community:

Indigenous Peoples of the Northeast Storytelling & Drumming, Sun Jan 6, 12:45pm, First Unitarian Society, 25 Old Jackson Ave, Hastings
We welcome Irene "Strong Oak" Lefebvre as guest storyteller, drummer, and teacher. Strong Oak and her wife, Mary, will lead adults and youth in our Indigenous Solidarity Service Learning Group, which is open to everyone - visitors welcome! You may also bring your own drum and participate. Childcare provided. Learn more at visioningbear.org.

Interfaith Community Concert in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Sun Jan 13, 4:00pm, Congregation Kol Ami, 252 Soundview Avenue, White Plains
Sponsored by The Interfaith Connection and Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Nonviolence. Free event. Refreshments. Info: connect@mlkwestchester.org, 914-949-6555.

“The Dream Is Still Alive: Remembering Dr. King with Songs for Peace, Justice, and Equality,” Jim Scott in Concert, Fri Jan 18, 7:30pm, UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester, 236 S Bedford Rd, Mt Kisco, Sliding Scale Admission $12-20
Jim Scott, composer of “Gather the Spirit” and other UU hymns, will lead a participatory songfest of music celebrating the ideals that Dr. Martin Luther King championed. More about Jim at jimscottmusic.com. Purchase tickets at jimscottatuufnw.brownpapertickets.com.

Bookfair to Benefit the MLK Freedom Library, Mon Jan 21, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Barnes & Noble, 230 Main Street, City Center, White Plains OR online
Come to Barnes & Noble for a day of activities - OR - order items online from Jan 19 to Jan 24 at barnesandnoble.com/bookfairs and enter ID #12464053 at checkout. Purchases benefit the MLK Freedom Library. Flyer at mlkwestchester.org/events-1

Maintain Joy and Humor

Practice of the Week
Maintain Joy (and Don't Lose Your Sense of Humor)

Category: Slogans to Live By: Carry these reminders at all times. These practices don't require setting aside a separate substantial chunk of time -- but they will slow you down a bit (and that's a good thing.) Resolve to get stronger at living by these maxims, day by day. Sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling.


Maintain joy (and don't lose your sense of humor). Can you live by this slogan? Can you DECIDE to be joyful? Can you make yourself joyful when you’re in a bad mood? How could you keep your sense of humor when things are going badly? How realistic is this in the sort of world we live in, being the people we are?

If you’ve been practicing these “Slogans to Live By” – and the other “Practices of the Week” – then, by this time, you have some experience under your belt. Perhaps by now you have learned to trust yourself more, to be able to be honest about your shortcomings without condemning yourself for them. Maybe by now you've gotten the hang of how to practice with difficulty – and you really get it that running away inside only compounds the trouble. You can face difficult emotions without so much denial and avoidance. Maybe at this point you’ve been working for a while on the practices, "Be Determined" and "Stick With It" -- and have developed more faith in yourself with the "Own Your Nobility" practice. Perhaps you have taken to heart the practice to "Reproach Your Demons" and to "Aspire to the Impossible" -- and so on.

If so, it is likely that you are in a better mood more of the time than you have ever been, and a feeling of joy and gratitude isn't so foreign as it used to be. In fact, joy is never very far away. So you can begin to imagine that it is possible to keep and extend a joyful feeling, even when things are tough. You now know that conditions need not necessarily give rise to habitual reactions.

To some extent, as we continue to train, we have more and more choice about how we respond to what happens to us. Bad conditions need not destroy our state of mind. Even in the darkest of moments, there's some light. We can maintain our sense of humor, our sense of ease. And this really helps, especially when things are grim.

Through your meditation and slogan practice:
  • you have developed a habit of awareness in your life;
  • the empty or boundless nature of things is always close at hand and is something that you think about, that you're aware of;
  • impermanence is no longer something you hate, it's your good friend.
When you have reaped these fruits, then, yes, it is possible to maintain joy and humor most of the time.

Also, remember that this is a slogan for assessment. Working with it is not a matter of pressuring ourselves to feel joy all the time. When we aren't joyful, when we're depressed or bitter, we need to know that we feel that way, not cover it up with a veneer of fake spiritual joy because someone says we should. The point is that we assess our situation with this slogan, Maintain Joy and Humor. We notice when we have joy and humor and when we don't. When we don't, we know how to work with our mind to adjust. Maintain Joy and Humor is a tool designed to help us, not a stick to beat ourselves up with -- or an invitation to pretend we are feeling what we are not.

Here I can take myself as an example. I am not a model practitioner, but I have been doing the practice steadily since my youth, and it has given me a fairly lighthearted attitude and a sense of humor about things, even though my natural state of mind is dour. I'm still dour after all these years, but I am lighthearted about it! I don't work too hard at my practice, and yet as the years have gone on, I find that I am a happier guy despite advancing age and the loss of many good friends to death. I'm not so sure everyone who knows me would say this, but this is my honest assessment of my own inner state, as far as I know it and can recall.

Now suppose that suddenly, while I am innocently minding my own business, somebody jumps on me and starts beating me up. (Fortunately, this has never happened to me.) How would I react? I don't really know, but judging from reactions I've had in the past when unexpected dangerous things have happened, I guess I'd be energetically impressed with the immediacy of what was going on and interested to see what was going to happen next. I suppose that spontaneously I'd try to defend myself somehow. But I do not think I would be surprised or in a panic. And if circumstances came to pass that caused me to lose everything—my health, my home, my spouse, my reasonably balanced state of mind (this last one has happened, of course, and more than once), and find myself suddenly in a total panic -- well, this would be very startling. This would get my attention, and I would be curious about how I was going to handle my out-of-control mind, what would happen, and there would be some joy in that I think, some spaciousness mixed in with the strong bad feeling. Maybe I'd be thinking, "Wow, I never thought this could happen! All these years of expensive Zen training and look at me, I'm in a total panic. Practice has been getting too easy maybe. Now I am really going to test out all of this Zen stuff and see if it really works.” Probably that's how I'd maintain my joyful mind and my sense of humor. And insofar as I was brought low and lost my lightness and ease, I'm sure I'd notice that and realize I was in trouble and try to get some help if I could. I have a lot of friends and am confident that somehow someone would help me.

* * *


Joy doesn’t have that good a reputation in our culture. Joy may be associated with being spaced out, stupid, or blithely ignorant of the state of the world. What about the truth of suffering, the problem of greed and craving? What about warfare, oppression, prejudice, and on and on?

Not everything is OK. Yet we are still advised to be joyful.

We take things — and ourselves — so seriously! This slogan challenges that approach. It is a direct challenge to our usual earnest and heavy-handed approach to the path, to the world, and to ourselves. It is a challenge to the assumption that the way to fight heavy-handed problems is with heavy-handed solutions. And it is a challenge to our desire to make everything a big deal and of utmost importance and seriousness.

Maintain Joy and Humor. Don't follow your spiritual practice with gritted teeth, but with delight. Appreciate your good fortune in having found a path of peace and compassion. Have a little humor.

This does not just apply to when things are going well, and it does not mean that we should be disengaged. Instead, we could touch in to a sense of lightness and joy repeatedly, in whatever we do, no matter what is going on.

Practice

No matter what you are feeling or what is going on, smile at least once a day.

* * *