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The Untold Story
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love_handoff.gif The untold story of 2021: people became kinder. World Happiness Report notes that global rates of helping strangers, volunteering, and donating are nearly 25% above pre-pandemic levels. The dominant response to suffering isn’t selfishness — it’s compassion. The worst of times often brings out the best in us.
During last month’s global gathering, James O’Dea’s compelling reflections on resilience included this story of compassion:

I will leave you with an image a number of us saw live on the news. It was a moment when a Russian soldier in his twenties was captured by the Ukrainians and brought to the town square. The people surrounded him. And then one of the women in the crowd pushed forward and offered him soup. And then another woman stepped forward and offered a cell phone, and said, “Here, why don’t you call home?” And the soldier started to cry. He wept. Every day now, I go to that image of the woman and the soldier — like a sacred icon — to call forth that energy within me.

Building on the prayer, four more circles have emerged from some of the speakers. Moreover, the wide response to our ‘Death and Dying’ series has inspired another pod on Living and Dying. All that and more below.

FOUR CIRCLES
In just a couple days, 26 musicians and speakers came together for a soul-stirring global gathering of sacred songs, stories and prayers for peace in Ukraine. “Will you keep the embers warm, when my fire’s all but gone?” “In resiliency, tears are allowed to flow.” “Walls can’t hold us in, fear can’t keep us down, Love will rise again.” With compelling reflections on resilience, prayers from different faiths and wide-ranging practices from bowing to whirling, indeed, a profound sanctuary of the heart emerged. And it has now rippled into a few more circles:

  • ssp_624b2f9e41970.jpg Apr 8th: Bowing for Peace It is only when we bow that our heart is higher than our hands and head. Join two Buddhist monks, Jin Chuan and Jin Wei, for a guided bowing session dedicated to peace in Ukraine and Russia. Learn more/RSVP
  • ReasonableInconsequentialAcaciarat.webp Apr 9th: Music for Community Guitarist Kim Capps and rapper Nimo Patel are coming together to hold space for singers of all stripes: How might music open our hearts, heal our spirits and transform us in today’s turbulent times? How do we help each other sing our song? Learn more/RSVP
  • 364.jpg Apr 23rd: Power of Place Aboriginal people say that when the land is sick, the people are sick. How, then, might we heal places? Myron Eshowsky, a shamanic healer with paternal roots in Ukraine and maternal roots in Russia, has done extensive study on trans-generational trauma and will invite a collective conversation on place. Learn more/RSVP
  • large.jpg Apr 23rd: Mandalas for Peace: After WW2, Yuka’s grandfather initiated a global “May Peace Prevail on Earth” prayer and a unique art practice, that has been practiced for decades. Join Yuka for a collective prayer for Earth, including an introduction to the practice of mandala art. Learn more/RSVP

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LIVING AND DYING POD
death.gif Following our Death and Dying series of talks — across multi-faith perspectives to first-hand encounters of embracing impermanence — a common refrain continued to surface: the symbiotic connection between the art of dying and the art of living.

That has inspired fifteen volunteers to put together a unique week-long pod: Living and Dying! For each day of the pod, participants receive a prompt, with ‘head’ readings, a ‘hands’ practice, and ‘heart’ reflections. With podmates from 15+ countries already, everyone’s reflections and comments interspersed with virtual calls, promises to create an uncommon field of group wisdom.

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THANK YOU …
Last month, a corporate CEO in Abu Dhabi completed the 4-week Laddership course. On the closing call he shared:

zencircle.gif From the very first day, a sense of kindness, a kind of serenity was immediately palpable in our shared space. For me, though, what was most interesting was that there were no expectations. Whatsoever. Zero expectation. Now, I understand that the whole premise of the Pod is service, but when volunteers spend so much time, and so much passion, on offering something, there can still be a gentle nudge, or a subtle push to want something from you. But, it was absolutely zero. That emptiness at the center made the whole process about us, the podmates. That alone, and the environment it created, compelled me. It made me surrender to the process in a way that I haven’t actually done before in anything else in my life. I learned things that can only be learned by experience.

Thank you, all, for holding emptiness at the center.
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