Maria Popova recently wrote an article about Romain Rolland, and it is such an inspiring article that I felt to share at least part of it here with you, adding a remark or two of my own to accentuate the urgency of Rolland’s passionate cry, applicable for the desperate times that we are living in today.
“In 1919, a few months after the end of WWI, … Romain Rolland (January 29, 1866–December 30, 1944) penned a remarkable text titled Declaration of the Independence of the Mind — a passionate cry for using the power of art and intellectual work not for propaganda, destruction, and divisiveness, but for bringing the world together and elevating the human spirit through the invisible fellowship that transcends national, ethnic, and class boundaries. It was signed by hundreds of the era’s most prominent intellectuals, including Albert Einstein (who was a vocal opponent of war), Bertrand Russell (who thought a great deal about what “the good life” entails), Rabindranath Tagore (who dedicated his life to our spiritual survival), Jane Addams, Upton Sinclair, Stefan Zweig, and Hermann Hesse.
“Although the declaration is very much a response to the destruction of intellectual life during the war (WW1), at its heart is a timeless clarion call for the preservation of art and intellectual life in the face of any threat — be it by weapon or censorship or the pernicious mundane anti-intellectualism of modern media — urging us to uphold our duty in ennobling rather than corrupting each other’s souls through our art and intellectual contribution.
“Noting that most intellectuals “placed their knowledge, their art, their reason in the service of their governments” during the war, Rolland laments the perilous hijacking of thought and art in the service of hate and violence, and urges humanity:
“May this experience be a lesson to us, at least for the future! … The thinkers and artists have added an immeasurable amount of poisoning hatred to the scourge destroying Europe’s body and mind. In the arsenal of their wisdom, memory, and imagination, they sought old and new reasons, historical, scientific, logical, and poetic reasons for hating. They worked to destroy mutual understanding among men. And in doing this, they disfigured, reduced, depreciated, and degraded the Idea whose representatives they were. They made it (perhaps without realizing it) the instrument of the passions and egotistical interests of a political or social clan, of a State, of a fatherland, of a class… And the Idea, compromised by their conflicts, emerges debased with them.”
Declaration of the Independence of the Mind
Arise! Let us free the Mind from these compromises, these humiliating alliances, this hidden subservience! The Mind is the servant of no man. We are the Mind’s servants. We have no other master. We are created to carry and to defend its light, to rally around it all men who are lost. Our role, our duty is to maintain a fixed point, to show the pole star amidst the storm of passions in the darkness. Among these passions of pride and mutual destructions, we do not single out any one, we reject them all. We commit ourselves never to serve anything but the free Truth that has no frontiers and no limits and is without prejudice against races or castes. Of course, we do not dissociate ourselves from Humanity. We toil for it — but for all humanity. We do not recognize peoples — we acknowledge the People — unique and universal — the People who suffer, who struggle, who fall and rise again, and who always advance along the rugged road that is drenched with their sweat and their blood. We recognize the People among all men who are all equally our brothers. And so that they may become, like us, ever more conscious of this brotherhood, we raise above their blind struggles the Arch of Alliance — the free Mind that is one, manifold, eternal.”
Stefan Zweig captures the spirit of the declaration beautifully in his biography of Rolland, itself a sublime work of art:
“The invisible republic of the spirit, the universal fatherland, has been established among the races and among the nations. Its frontiers are open to all who wish to dwell therein; its only law is that of brotherhood; its only enemies are hatred and arrogance between nations. Whoever makes his home within this invisible realm becomes a citizen of the world. He is the heir, not of one people but of all peoples. Henceforth he is an indweller in all tongues and in all countries, in the universal past and the universal future.”
That was 1919, and for all its brilliance and good intent, what did this declaration by luminaries of diverse disciplines (Einstein included) help us? A mere 20 years later the world was ripped apart by the most destructive war in human history, initiated by one mad man.
And again there was uproar and indignation after the fact, and it caused CG Jung to exclaim: “We stand perplexed and stupefied before the phenomenon of Nazism and Bolshevism because we know nothing about man, … We stand face to face with the terrible question of evil and do not even know what is before us, … Even if we did know, we still could not understand ‘how it could happen here.’”
New pledges were affirmed, and new alliances formed to safeguard the world against mad men and their pathological ego trips and delusions of grandeur.
And now, about 75 years later we once more stand “perplexed and stupefied” for the madness that has taken hold of the word, and about “the immeasurable amount of poisoning hatred (that has been added) to the scourge destroying (not only) Europe’s body and mind (but that of the entire world).”
A new breed of world readers, in their stupidity, are seeking “old and new reasons, historical, scientific, logical, and poetic reasons for hating.” They are working frankly and fearlessly to destroy mutual understanding among men. They are ready to sacrifice millions of innocence lives on the altar of their unshusable egos.
It is time for our era’s most prominent intellectuals, and indeed every concerned person, to rise to the occasion “to bringing the world together and elevating the human spirit through the invisible fellowship that transcends national, ethnic, and class boundaries.” The time is now. We cannot wait for disaster to strike before we act.
World War one was disastrous, and World War two was immensely worse and a stark reminder of what the next war will look like. We simply dare not go there.
Deepening Our Comfort with Uncertainty
–by Kristi Nelson, syndicated from gratefulness.org, Jun 15, 2019
(with a few criptic notes from me)
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.
~ Thomas Merton
I used to put myself to sleep by repeatedly reciting a little mantra that helped me transition from active days to hopes for a calm mind at night: “There is nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to know.” Guiding myself into greater comfort with not knowing was always helpful in reassuring my mind that it could truly rest and take a break from trying to plan and figure everything out. It seemed that where my mind could lead, my body would follow, and so I could slip into the sweet embrace of sleep.
In our daily lives, there are endless forms of uncertainty — far more things we cannot know than know. Objectively, this could be cause for great delight, wonder, and surrender. We could be relieved and appreciative that we do not have to perpetually hold onto the steering wheel, captain the ship, drive our lives. There is much to discover that can surprise us, so much to which we can gratefully yield, so much permission to let go of our need to know or control what will happen. And yet when we experience the presence of true uncertainty in our lives, it can be rattling. It goes against the conditioning most of us have internalized that not knowing is threatening — that it must be hidden or overridden, solved or resolved, as quickly as possible.
For everyone alive now, and for everyone who has ever lived, we are united in the fact that life invites us to show up again and again into mystery. (As Terry Patten said “Periods of great adversity often produce exciting and satisfying lives.” But then again … ) There are no guarantees — only exquisite unknowns. We do not know exactly how or when we will die, and there is no single formula for how best to live. We do not know how life is going to unfold — in the grand scheme and also in its minutiae — and we cannot be in charge of most all of it. This freedom from control can either shrink our perspective to the size of a clinging fist or deliver us readily into the gaze of the cosmos, depending on how we approach life in the moment. Much of our freedom depends on cultivating greater perspective about being with uncertainty, however and whenever we can.
(But always keeping Craig Hamilton’s warning in mind: “When it comes to our higher spiritual development, our higher self-evolution, most of us don’t want to change all that much, not really.”)
When we practice grateful living, we create a welcoming space for the surprise of uncertainty, knowing that it arrives naturally in each of those moments when we truly take nothing for granted. Without expectations, life is one surprising unfolding after another. The exact nature of the surprises that arrive in our lives is not up to us, but the nature of our response to surprise is ours and ours alone. Each time we let go and welcome life instead of holding onto our ideas about it, we receive reinforcement for our willingness to surrender to vastness rather than trying to resist it. The rewards of this shift are ever-available to us and make the risks ever-worthwhile, as they deliver the gifts of greater ease, resilience, and joy. As we meet the uncertain world with a more grateful, trusting presence, our inner life and spiritual life are unfathomably enriched. As Br. David Steindl-Rast says, “Deep trust in life is not a feeling but a stance that you deliberately take. It is the attitude we call courage.”
(Or like Francis Weller put it: “The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give.”
It seems we could benefit from learning to bring more of the intentions and prayers we use to guide ourselves to sleep at night to help guide us in how to be truly awake to our days. At night, we soften into the impending unknown of sleep by encouraging our minds to be fully in the moment, to let go, to trust, to surrender. Perhaps if we allowed ourselves to remember this practice of release — that there truly, often is nothing to know — in the fullness of how we live out our days, we might find ourselves more available to life, and life infinitely more available to us.
Camus wrote: “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men.
Maak ek myself skuldig aan hierdie sonde. Ek pos nie maklik grafiese fotos of stories oor dieremishandeling, of kindermishandeling, of mishandeling van enige aard hier of op daardie frustrerende ‘boek-van-gesigte’ nie.
Nou sien ek dit het mode geword om mense te dreig; plaas fotos van gruweldade of vergrype op Fb en ek ontvriend jou dadelik.
Nou wonder ek: Sê maar net een Duitse soldaat het destyds die moed van sy oortuiging gehad en n foto of n storie oor kinders wat in gaskamers in gedwing was iewers gepubliseer, of fotos van Joodse mans en vrouens wat in massagrafte met masjiengewere afgemaai is die wêreld ingestuur. Miskien, net miskien sou iemand daarop gereageer het, sou daar dalk n kind, of n paar honderd van hulle gespaar gebly het, sou iemand dalk vir Mengele en sy trawante gesê het ons hou nie van wat jy aan kinders doen nie.
Of sou die soldaat ook soos nou onmiddelik ontvriend geword het? Moet my asseblief nie ontstel met jou fotos nie, ek wil rustig my prentjies skilder, ek wil in vrede my koek en tee geniet saam met my vriendinne. Ek wil nie weet van plaasmoorde en die gruwels wat daardie lafaards met weerlose ou mans en vrouens en kinders doen nie. Dit is nie my probleem nie. Laat iemand anders iets aan die saak doen … en tien miljoen mense, mans, vrouens en kinders word in gaskamers vermoor.
En natuurlik is ons lank na die tyd in die openbaar gepas ontstig oor die bloedige vergrype van “siek” mense. “Hoe kon hulle!!” Dit mag nooit weer gebeur nie! Daardie mense moet gestraf word!
Maar nou, tog net nie nou nie. Ek wil nie weet van die dier wat gemartel word nie. Daar moet iets ernstig met jou fout wees as jy sulke fotos publiseer om die wêreld bewus te maak van sulke wrede vergrype. Ek vermoed dat jy n siek mens is, en ek wil nie vriende wees met n siek mens nie. Koebaai, jy is ontvriend. Hier is my nuutste landskap skildery, foto, skets. Is dit nie al te mooi nie? Wil jy dit nie dalk koop nie?
Richard (RD) Laing
“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
Daar is n beskouing dat, indien kuns nie sosiale komentaar lewer nie, is dit nie kuns nie, dan is dit mooi prentjies en niks meer nie.
Ek glo mooi prentjies is nodig om die wêreld n effens beter plek te maak. Ek glo ballans is nodig vir n gesonde samelewing. Ons moet kennis neem van wat om ons aangaan, en ons moet gepas reageer as dinge begin skeefloop. n Oog vir n oog benadering wat geweld verder laat eskaleer is altyd onwys, maar n volstruis-volstruis benadering is bloot onverantwoordelik.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”
Ek plaas hierdie gedagtes deur Craig in sy geheel hier. Lees, lewer kommentaar, of skryf in vir die kursus as jy wil.
As a spiritual teacher, I meet a lot of people on the path. And one of the most common refrains I hear from spiritual seekers these days goes something like this:
“I’ve been on the spiritual path for years. I’ve meditated, done therapy, and attended dozens of workshops, seminars, and retreats. But I’m still not fundamentally different from when I started on the path. Sure, I’m more centered, present and calm, but I’m still challenged by many of the same emotional patterns. I still don’t feel like I’m living fully aligned with my true purpose. I’m still not free.”
How is it that after decades of earnest spiritual seeking, many of us ultimately settle for a transformation far less profound or complete than the one we were aiming for when we started?
Is it that—as some ancient eastern traditions tell us—enlightenment is such a lofty goal that we should not expect to experience any radical transformation in one lifetime? Should we instead see our current incarnation as but one of millions of baby steps toward that supreme goal?
Or is it, as many contemporary teachers are fond of saying, that any attempt to change ourselves is in fact misguided—that we should simply “accept what is,” “call off the search,” and realize that ordinary life in all of its neurotic frailty is enough?
With all due respect to those of differing opinion, I would like to propose another possibility. Read the rest of this entry »
Foto deur Hannelie
Nou eendag kom daar op my fb muur ‘n advertensie van n wildteler wat sy wild te koop aanbied, en ook sommer jag geleenthede op sy plaas.
Soms reageer ek as daar “sensitiewe” onderwerpe op my muur geplak word, en soms laat ek dit maar net gaan; “walk away” sê my kinders, en dit is altyd goeie raad. My kinders is baie slim.
Jag is een van daardie vreemde dinge waar ek tog soms dink ek moet ‘n woord van vermaning oor uitspreek. Nie baklei nie, net ontmoedig, net vra vir oordenking en meegevoel.
Toe doen ek dit, en ag tog! (Ek was maar een van baie wat negatief gereageer het.)
Die man wat adverteer was heel rustig oor die saak. Maar net soos die anti-brigade sy skellende ekstremiste het, net so is sommige pro-jag profete erg aggressief.
Een reaksie op my skrywe was:
“Lourens van Schalkwyk Dis donnerse harde werk om eties te jag. Ek kan nie aangesien ek oud en gestremd is, maar ek het ‘n brein en kan oordeel. As ek ‘n wildplaas gehad het, sou ek jou nie toelaat om daar te jag nie. Dis duidelik jy kan nie ‘n koei op die gat slaan met ‘n banjo nie. Jy mag dit a “pret” beskou en hoekom gaan geniet jy nie die doodslaan van kuikens of vissies in ‘n dammetjie nie?” Read the rest of this entry »
Heidi Holland skryf ‘n artikel getiteld SA is a giant psychiatric institution in die Cape Argus van 28 Julie 2008.
Die eerste sin gee n duidelike áanduiding van watter rigting sy wil inslaan: terug neuk na die verlede toe. En sowaar, sy sing die selle ou storie dat al ons land se probleme NOG STEEDS voor die deur van apartheid gelê moet word; selfs Eskom se wanbestuur. Dan sluit sy af met die finale banaliteit dat die hele Britse koloniale ryk verantwoordelik is vir Mugabe se dolheid.
Sy maak haarself skuldig aan dieselfde tegniek van ontkenning wat sy so guldelik toedig aan die nasate van apartheid en kolonialisme. Dat daar ontkenning is, ontken ek nie. As sy maar net dieselfde kon doen sou dit haar en ons land veel baat. Wat sy egter doen is om te “erken” dat die huidige wandade van individue toegeskryf MOET word aan die historiese wandade van ‘n hele samelewing. Ongelukig doen sy nie dieselfde met die goeie dade van andere nie. Sy noem Mandela ons waardevolste bate, en haal Mamphela Ramphele aan, sonder om hulle deugde as individue aan dieselfde samelewing toe te dig.
Haar hele storie is dus gebaseer op die ontkenning dat individue verantwoordelik is vir hulle eie wandade, sowel as die ontkenning dat helde ook deur hulle samelewing gevormeer word. Deur haar eie onbewustelike ontkenning op die hele samelewing te projekteer, doen sy ons die onguns aan om ons – die hele Suid Afrika – te dwing om saam met haar in die modderbad van blaam te bly rondrol, eerder as om verantwoordelikheid as individue uit te leef.