Individual Revolution

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(Below are three responses to my previous essay.  My responses are in italics.)

N.’s Response:

Michael,

I just read your paper with great interest.  You make a number of important points.  However, you say repeatedly that not every group needs to follow all of the 10 steps [required according to IndividualEvolution.org] to be successful.  However, you never give any support for that opinion.  You may be right about that, but I wish that you would give specific details showing which steps can be omitted and why?  You indicate that various movements have been successful in the past without using all these principles.  But I believe those so-called successes have only been partially successful.  The reason for that may be that they have not followed all of the points B. has used.

Sincerely,

 

N.

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“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” -Assata Shakur.

While I am certainly not qualified to compose a proper tribute to Sandra Bland, I am qualified as a social psychologist to analyze some elements of #BlackLivesMatter in relation to Individual Evolution1. In order for either to impact societal change, it will be necessary for both to be revolutionary. In this case, revolution implies change. Whether it is gradual or immediate depends upon the need and the circumstances. Political minorities have been programmed into subservience for centuries via a political majority fueled by institutionalized racism utilizing propaganda promoting the idea that if they do what they are taught, what they are told, and what is demanded of them, they will receive fair treatment, equality, and integration with that political majority. In other words, if they play nice, institutionalized racism will eventually disappear. That has not happened, and it will never happen unless it is demanded as forcefully as possible and racism is deinstitutionalized. For most people, recent events contradict the myth of a peaceful transition. For some, Individual Evolution does not need to proceed according to a formula that progresses from a bureaucratic vision to an evolutionary power (the Head of logical thought through the Heart of desire to the Hand of action). And while individual evolution continues to evolve through a series of conference call classes anyone interested is welcome to attend, I will argue that it doesn’t necessarily need to follow this method to be successful.

A friend asked me to write this, even after I explained that I am not worthy to write a tribute to Sandra Bland, the woman who was recently murdered by a Texas police officer and made to appear as though she hanged herself in her jail cell. I know I am not worthy because Sandra Bland should not have been murdered. I know I am not worthy because the families of every person of colour, men and women that have left us too, too soon, before and after Michael Brown in recent months and, frankly, in the last few hundred years of murder in the employ of institutionalized slavery and racism, understand what is at stake better than I do. People of colour have died and continue to die needlessly, sacrificed to the bloodlust of a white patriarchy that doesn’t care, a white patriarchy that lashes out in fear and hatred with the knowledge that their control, their enslavement of everyone not like them, their reign, will end soon. Those that have been awake for centuries are still awake, and they have awakened the rest of us, though frankly we all should have been wide awake and alert for decades if not centuries, leaving institutionalized slavery, with all its permutations, in a weakened blob at the bottom of the dustbin of history.

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This may be my final retrospective of Full Life Farm for 2014, but life and adventures, the academic and homesteading ones, will continue as I work towards an MSc in social psychology, a PhD in community psychology, and the co-creation of an intentional community eco-village while I also learn of life and the uses of herbal medicine. Hopefully, you have read my other experiences in previous entries so this won’t be a difficult to follow. Rather, this will be a reflection of what I have experienced and learned from the end of April to the end of September.

I explored the possibility of an internship over nine months ago when I when I began research and visited Paul, Terra, and Zinnia at the farm in December. The day we met to interview each other, Zinnia was barely four months old, tiny, and bundled up warmly from the cold. It’s now over a month after her first birthday, and she’s walking, laughing, talking, and energizing everyone she encounters. I am eager to visit all of them soon to update them on my adventures and hear them tell their tales.

After nine months of living less than a mile from Full Life and assisting where I was needed, everything became a routine of one sort or another. Paul always generously asked me where I would like to work and assist to occasionally break that routine, but the routines became such a joyous routines in the end. Yes, I am romanticizing but not by much. My destiny is my own collective farming spacer with others. Ultimately, there is much on a farm that generally remains the same, as you read in previous entries, but there was always something to learn, even if it was a tiny but important detail. Full Life was, and is, a wonderful place to learn while communing with nature and warm, intelligent human beings that care about the future of sustainability. I do miss the farm.

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It is challenging to summarize the end of the beginning of what has become a lifetime of learning food sustainability. For me, it did not begin in Carrollton, GA at Full Life Farm (http://www.full-life-farm.com); it began in the backyard of my father’s house in the California suburbs where I reluctantly mowed lawns and performed other chores that children never appreciate in the moment. However, I always noticed the very obvious care my Italian farm-raised father put into apricots, plums, peaches, oranges, avocados and a variety of other plants that never seemed to grow in abundance. His small scale grafting sparked what has become my lifelong interest. Full Life Farm allowed me to immerse myself in and reignite this lifelong interest. While it is difficult to summarize months of food sustainability experience into a short essay or even a longer one, there are a few ideas that are important here. Learning has always been important to my growth and I will never really stop. Prior knowledge is valuable and should never be discounted, even in unfamiliar situations. I will always ask questions, even if since childhood that has placed me in a variety of trouble but not with the wise that always encouraged it. I will return to these points as needed throughout the following essay.

Full Life Farm is a sustainable farm. Sustainable signifies that the farm lives and thrives upon what it grows. Anything extra goes for sale to local restaurants and the local farmers’ market. It isn’t a factory farm that uses machinery to plow the land, plant seed, weed, or harvest the food crops. It is a small sustainable farm that relies upon its residents, volunteers, and occasional interns to do all of these things. Frequently sustainable farms are also called intentional communities. From research and what I have learned over the last several months, an intentional community, whether a house with a large garden inside the city limits or outside of the city limits on a small farm, is an enclosed community shared between several individuals (and possibly families). If anyone is interested in a more in-depth explanation of intentional communities (ICs), please consult http://www.ic.org. I began my quest for an IC months before this internship began, and my education will continue long after the formal education of this internship ends when I leave the farm and I leave the country. It began as and always was more than just an internship.

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While the semester and my official learning experience through a farming internship are almost technically over, I am far from finished, and I don’t plan to stop learning for quite some time.  That’s counterproductive to my nature.  As life breathes through my veins, learning will continue wherever I am in the world, whether at another university, another country, or another farm and intentional community.  All of the above is about to happen.  As I have grown and learned from everything and everyone, this is my destiny.

For the first time in a while, Monday was too wet to work on the farm.  It rained most of the night and the previous weekend so the solution in times like this is to take my previous skills that relate to farming and food sustainability and use them to benefit the farm.  Back when I began interning at Full Life Farm, I mentioned my love of fermentation and home made bread using sourdough starter, and Paul mentioned the excess wheat berries that he has.  So I took those skills and the experience from the previous bread I made a few weeks ago and improved on the recipe and the baking. It came out beautifully and Paul loved it.  He also received another big bag of wheat berries so there will be more bread to make soon and there may even be a regular supply of wheat berries for the farmers’ market.

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The week began on Sunday with a few friends visiting for a short tour of Full Life farm.  I continue to invite everyone that I encounter, especially close friends who are obviously interested in food sustainability.   If you live close, I will be honored if you are able to come. The warmer weather will offer more and more opportunities for visits, especially with the Carroll County farm tour the week before the local farmers’ market opens.  Later in May and June, there will be House Building Days.  There may even be a day set aside to build a Cob oven.  I am looking forward to these coming work days because these are skills that are vital to the future of sustainability locally and internationally where I intend to take these ideas.

Monday began with prepping, weeding, and the leveling of soil as well as creating a pathway between two plant beds while avoiding the mixture of wood chips that are filled with carbon (which would eat the energy in the compost-manure and take it away from plants that need it most. This time the plant bed just outside of the Hoop House was selected for transplanting the Brassica Dinosaur Kale from small pots.  After a search to determine what constitutes Dinosaur Kale exactly, I am leaving this to the observer and for later growth.  There are several varieties of Kale, including the common grocery store Scotts kale (with frilly leaves that usually becomes stuck in one’s throat however small you cut it), Lacinato (usually narrow with slight indentations), and the plain leaf, which has also been commonly called Dinosaur. The plant beds were weeded thoroughly and the weeds’ soil was left for the bed as much as possible.  The removed weeds were fed to the chickens that eagerly devoured the weeds in short order. The seedlings were removed from the pots as delicately as possible and placed in the plant bed that was wide enough with room for four rows.  These were planted as close to the surface as possible to keep them from drowning or burial by water.  Prior to the transplanting, compost was taken from the compost pile at the front of the farm to replenish the plant bed soil that was removed by the removal of the weeds.

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On Sunday, I baked the bread ground from the wheat berries from the previous week, described in the last post.  While I am a perfectionist (regarding taste and aesthetic and artistic appearance) with my bread experiments, everyone is always pleased with the results.  The recipe is basic and a modification of a standard Southern Italian Pugliese country peasant loaf.  The recipe that I use will undergo a slight modification so I will only post the recipe that I will use in the future rather than the one I used.  In fact, this will also end up as the modified Spelt recipe that I experimented with weeks ago and have experimented with for the last few years.

On Thursday, I created the build, the mixture of already growing rye sourdough starter and wheat flour.  I use sourdough starter rather than commercial yeast because it is more natural, healthier, ancient, and challenging.  For this recipe, I use a 20% mixture where 20% of the flour equals 100 grams and 20 % of the water is 60 grams.  This is for a total loaf size of 500 grams flour bread loaf. Two rough tablespoons of starter are enough and may be more than is needed but it is my standard and it works fine.  For reference, I use the metric system grams rather than the English pounds and ounces because the metric system is much easier to multiply and divide.  Additionally, weighing ingredients is much more accurate than the volume measurements of measuring cups.  So now you know.  It takes anywhere from 4-6 to 12 hours and sometimes more (depending upon altitude and weather) for the build to grow where it is ready to add to begin making dough and bread.

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While the rest of the University of West Georgia is on a Spring Break, I am boarding on a farm, and work continues as well as the learning and teaching.  House building was to have begun this week, but the weather was ether too wet or too overcast to dry out to begin.  I have not planted many seedbeds at this point, but I learned from Paul’s observations after taking what I thought was an excessive amount of time. Sometimes things that you do, do not need to be perfect.  When I have my own piece of land or a shared piece of land and few extra hands and much work to do, sometimes close enough is good enough.  In this case it was the spacing between the pea pods.  Paul had additional work to do Friday afternoon so there was little time to linger.

On Monday the rain came down pretty steady for an hour or two, sometimes hard, even during the work that needed to be done on the chicken hoop house.   The chicken hoop house plastic was at least two or more years old, possibly five and has received quite a few pecks from the chickens, which is what they naturally do.  The plastic also deters predator animals as well so there may have been some scars from a few of those encounters.  Prior to the removal, given that the rain had made some of the ground a little muddy, Paul asked me to collect and liberally spread wood chips around the hoop house where Paul, Terra, and I would be working (Unfortunately, I missed one muddy corner, but then there were bigger concerns that day.).  Given the trees that were cut down a few months ago were chipped inside the yard, there were still piles left in the chicken yard that the chickens had generously and unknowingly spread around.  After the worn out and weathered wood strips that secured the plastic to the hoop house were removed and thrown on one of the wood piles, the plastic was finally removed and folded up to be reused elsewhere later.  The hoop house was now ready for a new covering, new wood strips, and reused screws.  The new plastic covering purchased for this purpose is a mesh netting plastic that protects against the rain and is chicken peck resistant as well as raccoon resistant.  There were two pieces so both needed to be secured on all sides to efficiently use the new mesh and keep the chickens securely inside and the predators out.  Between the rain and the assembly, it was after 12 noon when that was finished.

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This week was filled of what I am primarily interested in from many levels:  seeds, planting, and composting.  My interest is, of course, sans animal wastes, but for now, this is the process I am learning and there are applications for every element of knowledge.  I have found an Intentional Community (http://www.ic.org) that is entirely raw and vegan that utilizes another form of creating organic compost, which I am anxious to eventually put to use.  At this point in my apprenticeship/internship, I am a bit more comfortable around the farm and feel as though I am fitting in better than I had at the beginning, and I feel as though I belong there and can contribute a little some piece of knowledge when an opportunity arises.  This is more of me acclimatizing myself to my surroundings rather than the energy surrounding the farm.  And this is probably the case with most people in new surroundings.

On Monday, I began planting Pok Choy (a Chinese and East Asian short, but oblong leafy green cabbage-like vegetable) and Swiss chard seeds in 50 row nursery seed pots. The Pok Choy was a few years old so it received approximately six seeds to each seed pot to insure against non-germination of the older seeds.  The Swiss chard received two seeds to a seed pot, given that they were not so old.  Once the seeds were labeled, dated, covered with previously mixed compost potting soil, and lightly watered, they were placed outside in the sun or in the hoop house.  Later in the week, additional seeds were planted in seed pots but for now there were seeds to be planted in plant beds.  Before that, the plant beds near the half hoop house attached to the greenhouse/library and the whole Hoop House greenhouse had to be prepped.  It was a small bed but it needed to be weeded, shoveled, aired, and raked to prepare the bed.  And three rows needed to be furrowed to plant rutabagas, turnips, and radish seeds.  Later in the morning, Paul and I visited the Haven where I room to prepare part of another row bed to plant beet seeds.  Paul also added posts to the adjacent bed and haphazardly strung string to slow down the bird or birds’ (possibly a cardinal) attempts to get at the seeds.  Paul also planted Kohlrabi seeds in an adjacent bed after I left.  The seedbeds were covered lightly by hand or hoe and watered.  The previously planted potatoes were also covered with hay to insulate against the next few days’ night and mornings’ drop in temperature.

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Given my openly admission to a vegan lifestyle and my tempered discussion of it under the circumstances, everyone that I have encountered at Full Life has been remarkably understanding towards my position.  This doesn’t change my attitude of animals being raised, suffering needlessly just to be killed later. All of this seems extremely Dadaist and absurdist.  Please understand that this is not how I began life as a vegan, this time or the first time I began as a vegan.  Though I became a vegan for the same reasons, living on a farm, seeing and encountering living and breathing animals daily and contemplating their ultimate end has codified my position even more.  I am still grateful for the understanding I have received and will always be grateful, but my next move will definitely be to a vegetarian or vegan intentional community or one that is vegan or vegetarian friendly.

Late Friday afternoon, Pal asked me what my learning intention was as his latest intern.  I took for granted that Paul is doing this actively as a sustainable farmer for he and his family.  I was surprised and impressed to hear that he is doing what he is doing to primarily educate.  My feeling and my philosophy is that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student, though most do not have a piece of paper that authorizes them to be one or the other or both.  How I feel about the social construction of certified education systems is another discussion entirely, but given my interest in permaculture, teaching, and anarchism, my views would not be hard to deduce. I found his question an intriguing one, given that I had considered it so often over the last several weeks and months but never voiced it to many at the University of West Georgia and certainly to no one on the farm.  It has always been my intention to learn as much as I can to maintain myself and my future family but it has also been to teach others in some way to maintain themselves as well, combining my interests in permaculture (small-scale agriculture that sustains a small community or family group that is environmentally sustainable), herbalism, anarchistic community building, and propaganda, all within the scale of an intentional community, rather than a single family farm.  The latter would obviously include participatory action research with community groups in various national and international locales to actively change and eliminate destructive sexist propaganda used in their community to sell mass-marketed products.  Anything is possible and while this is ambitious, this is what I want to accomplish. I want to actively be the change that I want to see on this planet.

Monday morning began with moving lumber from a makeshift temporary temporary shelter (more or less a temporary but solid covering placed over lumber laid outside of a regular temporary shelter) to the tool shed (above the pantry that is here called “the tool shed”.  Additionally, lumber exposed to weather and rain was moved to under this makeshift temporary temporary shelter.  For the first time I utilized an angle grinder to lightly grind off the sides of slightly weathered lumber exposed to the rainy weather to prevent further mold or temporary decay since this is viable lumber that can be used to build the house later when the spring weather warms enough to begin. Later that morning, I mixed seed planting compost from composted manure, gifted peat moss, and remnants of composted rotting wood.  This was mixed as two parts (two five-gallon buckets) of manure and decomposing composting wood and a few shovelfuls of the peat moss.  Apparently, to maximize the nutrients in these composting elements they have to be rationed properly.  I mention this because most of us are used to purchasing composting soil from the nursery. Once properly mixed, the compost was added to seedling pots, and year old Black Seeded Simpson lettuce seeds were sprinkled into pots six at a time (to insure against any “dead” seeds.  These were placed into the greenhouse for germination.

Wednesday and Friday, besides the standard egg cleaning for the farmers market and the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture—a community distribution network that distributes local agricultural goods to the local regional community for a modest exchange rate) there was cutting of seed potatoes to be done for planting later on Friday when it warmed up and the rain stopped.  Any potato larger than a tennis ball was to be cut at least in half for planting, but potatoes had to have at least one live potato eye.  Potatoes used included Red Pontiacs (most did not need to be cut), White Kennebecs (developed by the USDA in Maine several decades ago — some had to be cut), and Yukon Golds (very large but delicious potatoes – all but one had to be cut).  The cut potatoes had to have at least 24 hours to dry out before planting.  The last part of Wednesday morning was spent transplanting Brassica Family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica) seedlings ready for larger pots (because some didn’t grow) and for the garden bed.  Fertilizer was added to plantlings in sectional seed pots to stimulate growth.

On Friday, the Brassica transplanting was completed.  These and other plants were moved into sun in the hoop house to take advantage of the warm weather.  Plantlings in sectional seed pots were watered depending upon size.  The sunny day obviously warranted water, and smaller sectional seed pots required more water, given that such pots dry out faster than larger pots.  When the afternoon arrived, it was warm enough to visit the Haven to prepare plant beds by removing protective hay (rotting hay is good for potato growing, apparently).  Plant beds were furrowed and all but a few of the previously prepared potatoes were planted about three feet apart and properly spaced apart from row to tow to allow for proper growth.  Seasoned cow manure was lightly placed over the planted potatoes.  The hay was left to the side in the walkways to give the newly planted potatoes a little air to breathe prior to being covered in hay. The hay will be placed over the potatoes in a few days to stimulate further growth.

After nine weeks of this, I am awed that I have become more accustomed to helping this farm to function on some level and I am amazed that the little that I am learning each day is adding up to something substantial.  I am even furthering my knowledge, a little at a time, about the herbs that grow round Carrollton as “weeds” on the farm.

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Monday began with another raccoon caught overnight in the Haven’s trap near the chicken coop.  At the time, I considered how this may be part of a raccoon family doing what raccoons do to survive. At the same time, there are the lives of the chickens to be considered as well as the consideration of the Haven’s owners who are raising chickens for egg consumption and chicken meat.  I am still challenged by all of these feelings, but I am certain that if I start a farm with my family or if I join an intentional community, I will be more interested in contributing to the welfare of the community if that community is more vegetarian and more mindful of animal humanity.  To be fair, yes, I know and understand that plants have feelings and they feel and suffer pain.  I also realize that mushrooms scientifically are part animal as well as part plant.  But at the moment, I have not mastered the extraction of nutrients from the air.  I need food to live and to thrive.  Vegan is the food I choose to eat to minimize the suffering that already exists in abundance in the world.  I am here to learn, to teach, and to alleviate as much of that suffering as possible.

Later in the week, I discussed the concept of clipping roosters’ wings.  It’s something I have heard of and may even have discussed with my Nonno, my Italian grandfather many years ago, but this was a good refreshers.  Roosters can sometimes get out of their pens by “flying” up to reach a higher roost. They don’t necessarily fly, but they use the air under their wings to push themselves up and coast.  Given that roosters need their wings as well as clawed feet to fight off any predators, clipping their wings is a challenging decision.  Some farmers clip both wings and some just clip both.  With one or both clipped, it can make the rooster both defenseless and safe.  But leaving the wings intact, can also lead to a rooster’s escape and susceptible to a predator outside the pen.  Like the dilemmas I face daily as a vegan on the farm, Paul has equal challenges to balance his and his farm’s best interests.

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Buddhism is about everything, and it is about nothing.  The readings cover varied and various aspects of Buddhism that I have read in the past, and these also delve more deeply.  Dewit ‘s “inner flourishing,” Suzuki’s “wisdom and knowledge,” Karr’s stages of “awareness, ” Salzburg’s “loveliness,” Rahula’s personal realization of “Truth, ”Hanh’s “open”-ness, and Wallace’s “directed attention” are not independent, but they are divisions of one purpose or they seem to be divisions of one subject.

There are three stages of significance, rather than three themes in these readings. These stages may be divided into further stages along a path of evolutionary and revolutionary growth, but as everything is connected, these are all connected.  At the beginning of this journey into Buddhist psychology, what is needed is an acceptance of true openness, to accept viewpoints and ideas that are different and unfamiliar.

“Open-mindedness, which is the fruit of mindfulness, forms the basis for the disciplines of insight.” (De Wit 2001: 17) This allows the inner flourishing, that glow that some can see in others, but seldom in themselves, to occur, to discover what appears naturally. Further, Hanh reveals, “ A teacher cannot give you truth. The truth is already in you.  You only need to open yourself . . . .” (Hanh 1998:  12).  This supports Suzuki’s revelation that knowledge is the equivalent of book learning but not experience, that true wisdom is the realization that one knows nothing.  One who stays open with an “original mind” is an “empty mind and a ready mind” (Suzuki 1970: 21).  Karr elaborates this open-ness as awareness of listening, contemplating and meditating upon peace and insight into what is self and phenomenal reality (Karr 2007:  10-12).

“The spirit of metta is unconditional:  open and unobstructed.” “Metta is the ability to embrace all parts of ourselves, as well as all parts of the world.” (Salzburg 2004: 19, 23).  It is love of everything, the bad and the good in everything and everyone, even ourselves.  The open-ness of unconditional love is a power that can uproot negativity within each of us.  Wallace emphasizes the open-ness of “your awareness to the entire field of sensations throughout the body, especially those related to respiration.” (Wallace 2006:  19).  This open-ness and lovingkindness, the evolutionary love of one’s and the world’s humanity, are one.  One cannot exist without the other.  But how does one accept the love and open-ness of humanity with the evil that exists in the world, evil that exists to either deliberately or apathetically exists to harm humanity, whether it is sexism, racism, or holocaust of one form or another? This is a question that deserves discussion.

This is a simple but continuous process that utilizes knowledge and wisdom. In Rahula, the Buddha explains enlightenment, “’The eye was born, knowledge was born, wisdom was born, . . . . .’ It is always seeing through knowledge or wisdom (nana-dassana), and not believing through faith.  (Rahula 1974:  9).  Elsewhere, the Buddha uses a simile where “his teaching is compared to a raft for crossing over, and not for getting hold of and carrying on one’s back.” (Rahula 1974:  11).  Each of us uses a different vehicle to get across in a spiritually evolutionary practice that is entirely individual, but once they have reached the other side, attachment to that vehicle is no longer needed.  Everything and everyone is connected.  While each of these authors see things as each of us see things in our own ways, our ideas are connected, helping each of us process and proceed to our own enlightenment.

References

De Wit, H. (March 2001). The Case for Contemplative Psychology. Shambhala Sun. Retrieved from http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2388

Suzuki, S. (1970). Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Prologue). Retrieved from http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/zenmind.pdf

Karr, A. (2007). Chapters One and Two in Contemplating Reality: A Practitioner’s Guide to the View in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Shambhala Publications.

Salzberg, S. (2004). Chapters One and Two in Lovingkindness: The revolutionary art of happiness. Shambhala Publications.

Rahula, W. (1974). What the Buddha taught. New York: Grove Press.
Thich Nhat Hanh. The heart of the Buddha’s teaching. (1999). New York: Broadway 
Books.

Thich Nhat Hanh. (1988). The heart of understanding: Commentaries on the 
Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Wallace, B. A. (2006). The attention revolution: Unlocking the power of the focused 
mind (1st ed.). Boston: Wisdom Publications.

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History in the Western Hemisphere, especially the United States is filled with example after example of the upper classes, the rich and wealthy, engaging in social reform of the poor and the lower classes.  But those rich and wealthy, who thought they knew better, passed judgment on those so-called poor and lower classes, and judged them based on their own high society morals.  Very little progressive social reform occurred under those circumstances, except for the limited viewpoints of those impressing their morals on others. Beyond my rant of the legislative and social morality of the present and past, it is indeed refreshing that there are other countries and individuals that are interested in actually helping rather than moralizing to a populace. 

The founder of Childline, Jeroo Billimoria, actively engages in participatory action research (PAR) or action-based community development (ABCD) or a combination of the two to improve the lives of homeless children in India.  This is something I have never seen done in the United States and certainly not in a project of this grand scale. Each time I see an example of humanity and progress such as this, it gives me ideas and hope for the future and how I can actively help people help themselves. Billimoria actively trains, teaches, and employs the children that she has saved and she treats them with humanity and respect.  They have grown up and they help others.  When I was younger, I dreamed and tried to create a self-propelled paddleboat.  This is an example of a well-oiled paddleboat that helps itself by helping others who, in turn, stay to continue helping.  This is what I want to do on some level in some way.  The whole history of Childline is one where trial and error are valued in order to evolve and improve the assistance to the homeless children of India.  Rather than give up when faced with what appeared to be failure, Billimoria learned from her mistakes and worked to improve the manner in which Childline responded and the manner in which it interacted with other agencies.

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Courtesy of Skindicate Suspensions

Courtesy of Skindicate Suspensions

While on one level the entire continuum of experiencing body suspension immediately incorporates IndividualEvolution.org’s (IE) heart, head, and hand, the wholeness of it also profoundly and radically transcends individual evolution and becomes an individual revolution, as I like to call it.  It incorporates IE’s scientific method of inquiry, reaches beyond its body, mind, and spirit, and grasps through centuries to an ancient universal personal quest.  Such exploration can only happen with subsequent suspensions and their reflections.  This is infinitely more about exploring spirituality, exploring zones of safety and personal comfort, and transforming personal space.  It is also about eclipsing the logic of the mundane.  It is about, what Baba Ram Dass aptly manifested not so long ago: being here now.

When I decide to actively approach a challenge, it isn’t analyzed as much as it is pondered as a spiritual challenge to enhance practice and even emotional fitness, rather than a physical one.  This same mindset was tapped into when I decided to overcome my fear of public speaking and join a college speech team, when I decided to learn tango dancing, and even when I decided to pursue masters and doctorate degrees. That same font of spiritual power was consulted when I decided to body suspend several months ago and when I actually suspended a few weekends ago at Skindicate’s DisgraceGiving in Atlanta.  I plan to access that spiritual energy often because it needs replenishment often to increase its ability to transcend the mundane obstacles that I am faced with daily.

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