Pavi opened the circle by sharing a story of a sit in India, where someone shared how he spent only 15 minutes of the hour actually meditating, while the rest of the time was spent imaginging the crescent moon. This brought up the question of sincerity - to external appearances, we are meditating, but are we honoring that external act with an internal commitment? Varsha built on this and pointed out that the sharing of the meditator of his failing was also an act of sincerity at one level. Pavi also shared how, with rising awareness, one could see if one's action had the purity of intention, or if multiple intentions were mixed into it. This was a remarkable comment and helped me see in a different way. Building on this, it seems to me that I must try to see what I'm mixing up with great clarity. Only after that can I start to exercise freedom to choose what paints I want to mix, should I choose to do so. The emphasis is on freedom - the paints should not mix up because I can't help it, they should only mix up because I want to paint that way.
Chris and Kanchan raised the question - what is the difference between authenticity and sincerity. To me, authenticity is about truth-telling and ensuring that my actions are consistent with that truth. However, I could arrive at a low level of truth and be authentic about it. I could be an authentic idiot, only causing harm. Sincerity is what keeps my authenticity from becoming dangerous. Sincerity is what pushes me to find a deeper truth and not be satisfied with what is apparent. In the practical setting, if I don't like someone, I can say so for that is my truth. But my sincerity should push me to check why I don't like someone - and then I find it is not the person but the space that person is creating that I am uncomfortable with. That is a deeper truth that I could then express. Or perhaps, I am the one creating the space I don't want to be in. That is an even deeper truth.
Ram uncle shared that he wondered why taking off one's shoes was correlated with the ego. To which Varsha responded that one has to bow to remove one's shoes :).
We had the tree warriors last night, who tried their best to save the trees in Berkeley. They were silent heroes, choosing to listen, and we would not have known until Nipun shared their story with us. In a chat with one of them, I found it surprising that Berkeley could not engage in creative thinking to save their trees. I find Stanford takes extra care - all old trees are marked up and either relocated or protected when construction commences. The other day, as I walked by a newly built massive engineering center at Stanford (the Huang Building), I was utterly shocked by one aspect of the construction - an old tree had been beautifully preserved in mulch, encircled by concrete steps. Imagine a mini-colisseum, where the central organizing principle and focus was a tree :). Imagine the mighty construction bowing to the simplicity of a tree and recognizing it in a grand way.
Maybe we ought to photograph how Stanford takes care of its trees and show it to Berkeley. ;)
Ganoba as usual made a very deep comment - that sincerity is a stage reached in spirituality where we are aware of our lack of awareness, and therefore make a commitment to openness. Nipun celebrated the silent warriors who held the space.
All in all a great circle, and we ended with a birthday song for participant from Australia!