Reader comment on Fr. Thomas Keating's passage ...

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    On Jan 9, 2012 Ricky wrote:

    I just finished watching IAM, the DOC, by Tom Shaydac, for the second time when I read this passage.  I would suggest this is a film that needs to be seen by many more people than have seen his earlier works, such as Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura-Pet Detective.  In this documentary he reveals that while he is mindlessly going through his life and being steeped in the extremely competitive nature of Hollywood, he suffers a significant trauma, and through the rehabilitation process, ‘wakes up’ and begins to ask the big questions, similar to those listed in the highlighted paragraph at the end of the reading.  He interviews many scientists, religious figures, and writers and thinkers of our time, and the answer begins to evolve for him.  We are hardwired to be cooperative, not competitive.  We are hardwired to love exponentially, not to hate.  We are hardwired to share and think of what’s best for everyone and everything, not be dominant and exploitative.  Through this journey, he finds the answer of the deep connection and interconnection our life here represents, and how significant we each are in our ability to affect the world around us and within us.  Our very existence here is part of a dance, a celebration, a responsibility, and a continued mystery.

    The young culture I live in consistently contradicts the conviction of cultivating being over doing, and this message is deeply engrained in the lives of the students I teach.  The students feel pressure about good grades, and miss out on the evolution of the learning process.  They are expected to be the best in the class or in the school to go on to college and beyond, to be a doctor, lawyer, or CEO, all the while enduring the message that who they really are is never good enough.  They are expected to know what they want to ‘do’ with the rest of their lives early upon entering school.  There is implied a real need to claw your way to the top by whatever means necessary, and if you don’t reach the top, you have failed in some way.  What they have been led to believe by current society is that their value is measured by the doing.  In fact, most students I meet are completely disconnected to the ultimate mystery, and the ones who arrive in my yoga classes are now suicidal, depressed, anxious, disillusioned, frustrated, hurting, and desperately seeking the answers that deep down they have a sixth sense about; and they continue to endure being bombarded by mixed messages.

    Don’t get me wrong.  It’s important to have focus.  But the focus I help students connect to has to do with being the best they can be, even when that best shifts from moment to moment.  When students begin to ease up, they begin to experience joy.  We discuss the Toltec ideals of being impeccable with your word, not making any assumptions, not taking things personally, and always doing your best, which changes.  We also focus on being the change we wish to see, and they are reminded every day that they can have enormous affect on the world around them just by how they think, how they care about others, and how they cooperate.

    If I can make a plea to any adult reading this, I implore you to help guide the little ones around you to begin to connect to the ultimate mystery, to listen to the whispering of their deepest inner self, to act on what they know to be true and to help them release the strangled hold society has on them that their worth is wrapped up in the title they hope to achieve.  Please remind them with your actions and your words that they are exquisite just the way they are.  They will respond, I promise.


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