“If you want to be a rebel, be kind.” – Pancho Ramos Stierle
This isn’t what I was going to write about today, but it’s what stirred up from the depths, gathered out of the ethers, so here it is.
It’s an odd thing, when kindness and stillness become acts of rebellion.
I mean that these are ways of being that are so incongruous with the prevailing popular cultural norms of astounding noise pollution, and another sort of pollution caused by mean-spiritedness and cruelty … the behaviors we know are the opposite of kindness, and are soul-corrosive evidence of deep woundedness.
What was in my awareness to write about today, gestating as such things do in a writer’s mind and being and attention, is how strength can come out of vulnerability.
How vulnerability is in fact strength.
How vulnerability requires one to actually be strong, courageous.
These are seeming contradictions in terms.
But there’s some magic in that, if you think about it, and we see this in various timeless wisdom and indigenous-soul traditions.
Cultivating the Virtues offers the remedies for the Deadly Sins — a topic I admit a true fascination with (more soon on that one).
My Qigong grandmaster emphasized, as is the case in Taoist Qigong and other transformative spiritual traditions of all sorts, that cultivating these qualities, or states of being that have a palpable energetic to them, is transformative.
And in ‘wisdom astrology‘, we see the remedy elixirs for one sign-type’s ‘shadow stuff’ can come from the archetype-sign ‘across the wheel’.
So perhaps the remedy comes from opposites, like an alchemy.
And that alchemy is very different than some whacked out, Sisyphean perfectionism, which can be a form of mean spiritedness and punitiveness.
Vulnerability as strength. Brokenness (a.k.a. Kintsukurai) as wholeness. And here we are … kindness and stillness as rebel actions.
Pancho Ramos Stierle, quoted above about kindness, also said this:
“Sometimes the most radical thing to do in a polluted violence-based system, is to be still. The mud settles to the bottom and we then have a clearer vision about our next steps.”
Though I’d guess it’s increasingly obvious, if we need a reminder about why stillness is a profound act of rebellion — a way of being the change or being the remedy — read The Extinction of Quiet, a short article from Spirituality & Health.
And as for kindness, well that’s likely pretty apparent, too.
Muse on this segment, from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, Kindness:
“Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.”
I can tell you from my own ‘unmaking’ journey, that a greater kindness does, truly, emerge from that field of loss, dissolution, shattering, and grief.
Heart, tenderized, raw, wide-opened, light and vulnerability shining out.
I’ll leave you with this one from Howard Zinn, since this whole tapestry-of-reflection is still very much working in me and thus working on me (and because of how the energy works, that means it’s emanating from me as well … the many ways that we ‘be’ the change!).
“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.”
“If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”
“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
~ Howard Zinn
That’s the art, and perhaps the science is growing for it, too, of how it is we become the change even as we, ourselves, are evolving and shapeshifting as Love works its way on us.
“Yes, the truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” ~ David Foster Wallace
That’s the way it is for walkers of the Via Transformativa, if you will.