My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all...
Last Wednesday was a ONE-derful night to stress that "we are all in this together", no matter distance or time.
As usual, the Berkeley posse of satyagrahis was ready to carpool to Santa Clara but this time there were not enough cars to carry all the crew (8 of us), so Chris, Yi-An and I joyously volunteered to give away our spots (so that you know, sister Yi-An has been the first one to RSVP -before the weekly passage is sent!- for the last month!). We've been to so many Wednesdays that we know how powerful is for a "first timer" or for some of us who are re-joining the spiritual companionship of the Charity Focus family. Among the people who joined the adventure of magic Wednesdays for the first time, was brother Fab (who had a visible weapon of love: a guitar!). [I just heard the beautiful song he played at the Kindness Temple that night!]. So, improvisation was the name of the evening and the three of us decided to have a Wednesdays' night meditation/dinner in Berkeley. Yi-An and Chris bought a few veggies, which later became part of a delicious curry, rice and beans, together with a salad with home grown sprouts and mushrooms from Tilden park (kind of a swadeshi salad). We did the dinner prep and sat in receptive silence at Chris' room. [He showed me the incredible site of Rev. Heng Sure where you can set a virtual bell: a meditation timer!]
After meditation, we played Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" and it felt as if I was with all of you in Santa Clara, like if those 55 miles didn't exist. Thanks to the magic of the electron land and the prodigious skills of brother Somik, I could read some of your insights and lovely reflections. In a virtual and real circle, and honoring what might be the continuity of Planetary Wednesdays, these are some of the thoughts/feelings that flowed through me:
1. Star Stuff.
2. New Renaissance of Humanity.
3. Astronomical Gratitude.
1. Star Stuff. I remember when I was a child the attention and enthusiasm my dad had for the Carl Sagan's TV series: Cosmos. As a 5 year old, I was quite frustrated when the long Carl monologues started because I couldn't read the subtitles, and my English didn't exist at all, so it just didn't appeal to me. However, what I still remember is the excitement of my dad afterwards: he explained to me, in Spanish, the beauty and magic of the Cosmos is his own words. Those were the seeds of critical thinking, those were the seeds of awe and wonder that shaped my profound interest for Astrobiology (the study of life as we know it -and as we don't know it!-, how it originated, how it has evolved and how it has been distributed in the Universe). In other words, thanks to (well-used)technology and the spiritual translation of people like my dad, Carl Sagan's wisdom could travel, almost in real time, to Mexico, Latin America and to the entire Planet, changing the lives of millions of people like me. It always intrigued me how it was that we are made of star stuff... that meant that you, and I and everybody's ancestors "came from stars". This is one of the most profound realizations humans have ever done: the oxygen that we breathe, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our skin, the water in our cells, the iron in our blood all come from star stuff...
2. New Renaissance of Humanity. I remember it was in one of my first Wednesdays when I shared my perspective about the New Renaissance of Humanity. That day, I gave to the Mehta family an Earth Flag that symbolizes the citizenship of the World (not that they need any recognition, but is a tradition I'm used to). So, here it is again:
In the middle of the awe and wonder of the Cosmos it is easy, for me, to make the connection that we all are luminous beings. We all have the potential to shine like a star. We are all in this together, radiating together. We live in an organic spaceship, our home, and we must take care of it. How do we share this oneness perspective with the entire Earth Community? Well, it's happening in front of our eyes. These are indeed exiting times!
Just 15 years ago we discovered, as species, the first extrasolar planet, the first planet outside the Solar System. This discovery marked the start of a new age in the study of the origin of life, because finding worlds around other stars is giving context to the Solar System, and also the existence of our home: the Earth and its magnificent biodiversity. Currently, we have found close to 400 exoplanets! and the list of planets outside the Solar System keeps increasing with each month. However, the majority of these extrasolar planets are “gas giants”: a few are like Uranus or Neptune; the grand majority are like Saturn or Jupiter or even bigger. It is very likely that all these places would be impossible to be inhabit for what we today call “living organisms”. We are still looking for the first Earth-like planet orbiting another sun.
We are getting closer. On April 2007, human knowledge made another jump: we discovered the first Super Earth ⎯a terrestrial planet approximately 4 times the mass of the Earth⎯ and it wasn’t around a Sun-like star, rather it was found orbiting a red dwarf star (75 out of 100 stars in our Galaxy are red dwarfs!). When we humans start to take into account the great diversity of the Cosmos, for example, when we look for planets not only around stars like the Sun but around all stars ⎯of course, including the most numerous⎯ we are rewarded. We are getting even closer! This year, 2010, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescopediscovered its first five exoplanets! This mission, looking at 100,000 stars at the same time, is the first one that will be able to detect Earth-size planets as the exo-earths eclipse the light of the hosting start.
The Universe tells us again and again that to cling to the anthropocentric principle is useless. When Galileo discovered the fascinating worlds of Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io orbiting Jupiter, the perspective of Humanity changed forever. In the West, this discovery of the Galilean moons proved that the Earth and humans were not the center of the Universe—the insight and reasoning of Copernicus were correct—it called into question the oppressive-obscurantist system of the Inquisition and thus opened the road to the Renaissance. Likewise, today we are living in through the New Renaissance of Humanity. We are building a catalogue of Earth-like planets and Super Earths and we human beings start to understand that it does not matter what country, religion or sexual orientation you are but what matters is being a responsible citizen of the World. We are beginning to demonstrate that the Earth is but one country and all the living beings its citizens.
The message is still very clear, as Gandhi said: “The Earth has enough to satisfy everyone’s needs but not everyone’s greed.” There are enough resources for everyone but to cling to neoliberal policies, to the oppressive-imperial system, to the totalitarianism of corporate capitalism is useless. That's why this is the New Renaissance of Humanity, where we honor diversity at the surface level, and unity at the heart level.
3. Astronomical Gratitude.
We are insignificant and yet so special, so small and yet so giant. We are a way of the Universe to know itself. We are the Universe that took conscience of itself. Yes we are a spec of a spec, and our lives are just a blink of an eye in the Cosmic perspective. At the same time, we have the capability to be asking this mind/heart blowing questions. There is little difference genetically speaking among the rest of animal kingdom and us; it is more and more known that orangutans have feelings, psychological problems, responsibilities as a community members, they take care of each other, they are even nonviolent! We are not that special after all, and yet, we have the capability, moment to moment, breath after breath, to stop the what is causing suffering in others, to be more kind with one another. We are capable to imagine this kindness and then to practice it.
I think/feel that if all humans will be able to experience such a ONE-derful gatherings as Wednesdays, we will be in our way to quickly eradicate the imaginary lines humans draw in the dirt, those lines that will never show up in a picture of our pale blue pearl. I feel an astronomical gratitude for you all who have been feeding me in so many ways, physically and more importantly, spiritually. I'm also infinitely grateful that we are able to share the Wednesday's treasure with more and more people. If I have to offer "my spot" every Wednesday to a new sibling to keep Planetizing the Movement of the Kindness (R)evolution one heart at a time, one star at a time, let it be! It would be my pleasure!
May billions and billions become compassionate, courageous and wise.