“Now the time has come to challenge our obsession with doing everything more quickly. Speed is not always the best policy. Evolution works on the principle of survival of the fittest, not the fastest. Remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare. As we hurry though life, cramming more into every hour, we are stretching ourselves to the breaking point.
Before we go any further, though, let’s make one thing clear: This is not a declaration of war against speed. Speed has helped to remake our world in ways that are wonderful and liberating. Who wants to live without the Internet or jet travel. The problem is that our love of speed, our obsession with doing more and more in less and less time, has gone too far; it has turned into an addiction, a kind of idolatry. Even when speed starts to backfire, we invoke the go-faster gospel…. Yet some things cannot, should not, be sped up. They take time; they need slowness. When you accelerate things that should not be accelerated, when you forget how to slow down, there is a price to pay.”
Carl Honore (excerpt from In Praise of Slowness)
‘After feeling driven my whole life
something very near the center has
unwound and I can no longer hurry
through airports or return all my calls.
And sometimes people I barely know
swim up like old worn fish to show me
the map of their gills, and the one long
gash of something they once swallowed,
and how it has cut each breath since.
And I am honored to warm them
like a blanket. But when alone, I
find it hard not to watch
what I swallow.
When alone, these things
I’ve wanted to know since birth
feel so unanswerable, I must
have been torn from them.
I’m sure a hawk doesn’t know it’s a
hawk. I’m sure a spirit doesn’t know
it’s being spiritual. Or a screen door
slapping, like a tired life, in the night,
if it’s opening or closing.
Though we give up the murky fears,
we still can’t know our worth, any-
more than a faceless treasure
can fathom why
it was boxed
This new boundless compassion becomes the centerpiece and active component of a love that knows no limits. Unconditional love for ourselves and others is a walk through a path that completely respects our sovereignty as individuals and honors our power by no longer allowing ourselves to be harmed by anyone, but also within this walk is a new grace and clarity that sees ourselves in all other beings and treats them with the utmost care, supporting all in also living lives where they are no longer harmed.
Unconditional love is a medicine that can bring balance to our world, the clarity it produces can help us better understand the roots of harm and work to eliminate them so that all can have the external freedom needed to work on their own personal internal liberation. The greed and reactiveness that causes harm can be replaced with love as the primary motivator and responses of kindness as our principle form of action, to create this shift in our world many will have to heal themselves deeply by doing their inner work, releasing burdens within themselves and creating enough space so that their own self love can breathe deeply and expand into unconditional love.
As more expand into this field of greater egolessness, the world will shift with us and be significantly relieved of the greed that sits at the center of the imbalance that we currently experience. Our love as a humanity does not need to be perfectly unconditional to change the world, every time our collective love grows, it creates a better future.’
Surreal drawing by Alfred Basha
‘Please don’t think that because you are unhappy, because there is pain in your heart, that you cannot go to the Buddha. It is exactly because there is pain in your heart that communication is possible. Your suffering and my suffering are the basic condition for us to enter the Buddha’s heart, and for the Buddha to enter our hearts.’
– Thich Nhat Hanh, in “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching”.
When you’re damaged, you learn to take what’s given to you and be grateful for it. You learn that love is not a game, and cherish it. You learn how to appreciate the smallest things people do for you.
Because when people have gone through wars that have left them broken, they understand how fragile life is. They understand how they must make the most of it. And most of all, they understand how important it is to always be kind.
Don’t you just love Jeff Brown’s ability to cut through the bullshit?
‘EVERYTHING is not a gift. There may be valued transformation that arises from many experiences, but that doesn’t mean that EVERY experience is a gift. If we lean too far in that direction, we will deny trauma and victimhood all together, something we have been mistakenly doing for centuries. No, everything is not a gift. Some experiences are horrors, and it is all we can do to heal from them. To suggest that someone MUST find the gift in them, is to add insult to injury. It is also to create a culture that welcomes all horrors, because, after all- “everything is a gift.” Let’s keep it grounded- sometimes, it’s a gift. Sometimes it’s a horror. And the only who can decide that is the person who had the experience.’ -JEFF BROWN
In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal?
What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.
I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.
Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.
Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and fast-paced sports.
I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.
We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.
W. B. Yeats once wrote, “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a solider to fight on a battlefield.”
How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?
I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye […] and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. […]
How is the state of your heart today?
Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”