This video is in Italian, please find here below the English text.
Per un nuovo domani
Ho il piacere di condividere nuove riflessioni e invitarti a un meeting online gratuito che si terrà il 28 Aprile 2020 dalle 17.30 alle 19.00.
In questo incontro potremo condividere insieme le nostre riflessioni/apprendimenti a proposito di questo periodo.
Per partecipare, clicca qui –> conferma partecipazione meeting online 28/4
via email poi verrà inviato il link per la partecipazione al meeting online
(la partecipazione è a numero limitato)
For a new tomorrow
A metaphor that comes to my mind in this situation is that of a ladder leaning against a wall. A person climbs tiringly all the way to the top. As he looks out over the wall, what he sees is not the panorama he was expecting. So he scrambles all the way back down, moves the ladder and leans it against another wall. This is what Yeats referred to, about a hundred years ago, when he said that now that my ladder’s gone, I must lie down where all the ladders start.
This is the sort of situation that we are going through now. We reached a certain point and we realized that what we were looking for is not what we’ve got. So we must make a fresh start. Shall we make it? Personally, I believe and trust that we will. But it’s not the belief that everything will be ok, but it’s a belief that requires that we engage ourselves in a different way. Some people are hoping that the world will return to normality, that it be the same as before, but this is not what we desire. We desire a different kind of world, fruit of the experience we have gone through. This means that we will have learnt certain things through these last hundred or so years.
So I’d like to share with you some of my learnings. This means that certain things I have managed to relearn, certain others to unlearn, but above all, as Edgar Mitchell, the 6th astronaut to set foot on the moon said, the experience of seeing the earth from outer space was that of an extraordinary connection, something that only from out there one could truly experience. For me, it’s like this, certain theoretical learnings have become real, they have acquired a different meaning due to this moment of lockdown. It is clearly a moment of humility. Humility means not thinking less of oneself, but thinking of oneself less. It is that moment when we lie down on the humus, the earth and decide to start all over again. It requires a lot of curiosity, so humility and curiosity go hand in hand, especially in this moment.
I have condensed my learnings in 10 points, and as I said, these are things that we all know, but which acquire a different meaning in these times.
The first is that we are like the strings on a violin. Each string is separate from the others, but when the instrument plays, all the strings vibrate together. This means we can all be different and accept this diversity because we can live together like this. We do not need to think that we are right and the others are wrong, because who knows who is right or wrong. We will see at the end, but being able to vibrate together is important. It is what Einstein referred to when he said that man “experiences himself, his thoughts, his feelings as if they were separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion becomes a kind of prison for us, limiting us to our personal aspirations and affection for a few persons nearest to us.” It is an exhortation to free ourselves from the prison of us and them, to expand our understanding and compassion to the circle not only of the group of family and close friends, but to recognize the wider family of sentient beings to which we belong.
My second learning is that we are infinitesimal beings against the whole backdrop of humanity. Infinitesimal means that alone we can do little, together we can do a lot. Together with what? With the whole universe. So this is the moment when we can learn how to surrender, surrendering takes on a new meaning. I do not have to try to drive the world, I do not have to try to be the guru in the situation, but able to surrender to the greater intelligence of the universe. It is so important because I can let myself be informed about how things are going and therefore arrive at certain conclusions.
The third is to be able to be lazy. This means not to be frustrated because others may be working like mad, or racing around, or suffering because they are not racing around, but being able to enjoy the moment of non-doing. It is a human condition, that of being able to look inside ourselves, and this moment is allowing us to do this. Sometimes we are in such a hurry, because the greater the hurry, the less we can look within. Looking within is not so comfortable. I myself am one who is accustomed to doing this, but I realize in this moment that it is not for the faint of heart. It can cause some fear. But it is a condition of the human being, not that of the human doer.
The fourth learning is that we need to have a purpose to work for. This may seem obvious, but a scope should be for the benefit of a community. The scope of making ends meet or of maintaining a family may be noble, but to keep in mind that in the midst of all our projects and our equations, the receiver of our work is all of humanity. So we can keep this as a frame of reference, if what I am doing is really of benefit to humanity or only for my personal benefit.
The fifth learning is to give meaning to whoever I am talking to. This means that the person becomes the center of my world in that moment, so all my attention is directed towards them. I do not want to be thinking about myself, but only of that other person. I want to be able to honor them, so that they may receive the maximum of what I am saying. I want that when we separate, that person may feel better. Communication therefore means not that I go on speaking but that I can see and honor the other. All elementary concepts we can read about in any treatise on communication, but in this moment, who has the luxury to look within may realize that we have not communicated so well till now.
My sixth learning is called compassion. This means keeping the heart open even in tragic moments. Not easy, I know, but it is a way to suffer more effectively. It is a way to realize that pleasure and sorrow are bedfellows. It is a way of not being like Pollyanna, that all will be ok, neither being negative, but to know that when I am sitting here, on the seat next to me is sorrow and sadness. Obviously compassion is not easy when we speak about war, so a bigger challenge for me in this moment when so many are speaking about the war against the virus, is to have compassion for those who are suffering, not to install a mechanism of fighting or hate, so typical of times of war.
The seventh learning is continuous support. If I give support, I want it to be continuous, not just a one shot. Not like the banana tree which bears fruit once, then is cut down, of course for another tree to grow. I want to be like a tree that continues to give fruit, I want to contribute towards giving support to all sentient beings.
My next learning is that in this moment when it is difficult to speak to people, I have realized that there are trees and the beauty of the universe and of the earth all around. So it is a moment in which I feel a greater sense of belonging to life. A sense of gratefulness for what life has given me and hopefully will continue to give me. So I learn to express this gratitude differently for what lies around me. So I learn also how to love nature in a different way. Yesterday, respecting nature may have been a platitude, today it becomes more significant. How to accept mother earth, from which we all come, and the environment of which we are all part.
The next learning is that of ecology. Again to think whether what I am doing will contribute to leaving a better world or to destroy it. In this moment we are all required to think if we have nourished evolution or if we have hindered it. Assuming of course that we could be so powerful! What is important is to be able to learn, also from the mistakes of others. When I see the streets littered with used gloves, I do not wish to accuse others because I may be starting out from a neurotic moment of mine, I want to be able to see the mote in my own eye, if what I am doing is in some way invisible to me, but harmful to the environment.
The last and tenth learning is that when things seem tragic, I want to remember that we can change. We are not stone statues that can only deteriorate over time, we can instead go beyond entropy, change, we are not something fixed. This gives me hope that if we unite in a certain direction, we can create something fantastic. This is my hope. It is not optimism, optimism is more of an emotional state, something that can change from one day to the next.
I would like to conclude with a quote from von Durkheim, who said “The man, who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages his old self to survive. Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the suffering and pass courageously through it.”
Thereby creating the raft that will take him to that distant shore …
Thank you for your participation.