Cool Quote of the Day

We are trying to create a Buddhist world, an enlightened society, and one of the principal ways of doing that is for each one of us to become sane. Once you have understood, studied, and practiced, you might actually have to do something. Together we might need to wake up the whole world from its sleep and create an enlightened society in accordance with Great Eastern Sun vision. So we should appreciate one another. We should appreciate that we are going to create a wakeful world.

-Chögyam Trungpa

Cool Quote of the Day

The human world is continually speeding up while the non-human world of plants, insects, and animals, with its once vast range of ecological diversity, is rapidly declining, causing irreversible imbalances throughout the web of life. A spiritual practice exclusively concerned with my enlightenment, my transcendence, or my emancipation from this life, this body, or this earth is not a spiritual practice tuned in to these times of ecological, social, physical, and psychological imbalance. The declining health of our ecosystems and the call for action in our cities, economies, communities, and families remind us that we don’t have time to wait for enlightenment in isolated caves or inner sanctums; instead, it’s time to consider action in the world and inner practice as synchronistic and parallel. Action in the world is not an externally imposed duty or simply a preliminary stage on the path to greater awareness but is itself a valid spiritual path and an expression of interdependence, freedom, and awakening.

Michael Stone, Yoga for a World Out of Balance

It’s a cool revolution

Locations worldwide of Occupy groups and actions

Occupy WallStreet. OccupyDC. Occupy Oakland. Occupy Cedar Rapids. Occupy Carbondale. Occupy Islamabad. Occupy Fayetteville. Occupy Macon. Occupy Montreux. Occupy Lubbock. Occupy Ukraine. Okupirajmo Sarajevo. Qiryat Shmona. Samstaða Seydisfjordur.

It’s a cool revolution.

A revolution that transforms the outlook  and behavior of many individuals and thereby slowly transforms a society can be called a “cool revolution.” It educates people to think critically, to enter that realm of nonconformity that has always been the source of change. When people have transformed their minds, they will naturally and coolly act to transform the society and eventually the polity. -Robert Thurman, Inner Revolution

A cool revolution is bottom-up, not top-down. We’re seeing it with the Occupy Movement, a groundswell of grassroots protests originating with the urban encampments. Without an over-arching organizing or funding entity, local groups sprang up and self-organized–relying heavily on social media–around “OCCUPY.”

As Thurman says, when inner transformation occurs, action naturally follows from it. The cool revolution has been in progress for some time and only now taken to the streets. The rallying cry “We are the 99%!” makes sense not only because we know as fact that the highest one percent of income earners in the US hold 40% of the wealth, but because we intuitively understand that this is unjust. We understand that the radical disparity in the allocation of resources has practical and devastating effects on the whole of society and particularly upon its most vulnerable members.

When we realized that Wall Street financiers were not going to be punished for wreaking havoc on the economy, nor was their “too big to fail” model going to be reformed, we felt the scales tip. When the US Supreme Court made their Citizens United verdict, according many rights of citizens to corporations, we knew we were disenfranchised.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.  -Martin Luther King, Jr. (Speech at Riverside Church)

With the hierarchical structure failing, we come to the inevitable conclusion, “It’s Up to You.” Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, in the book of this title, writes about how in practicing self-reflection, we take liberation into our own hands and act out of the true self. This is the point when “the personal becomes the political.” Self-awareness is just as important as political protest, because inner transformation of the individual is the basis from which positive political action flows.  The simultaneous and reinforcing transformation of consciousness of many individuals inevitably disrupts the status quo. It’s a cool revolution.

Occupy could be a Moment and not a Movement. But in my opinion the passions aroused around the globe, the large numbers which only increase when they are persecuted by unwarrented police violence. To me, Occupy is a marker of a new Age of Enlightenment–both a return to Western Enlightenment rationality (which the religious, authoritarian Right has rejected) and the incorporation of the Eastern traditions of spiritual Enlightenment (whose teachings and practices have been adapted by many Westerners apart from their religious institutions).

*Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman coined the term “Cool Revolution,” and this blog is based on his wonderful book Inner Revolution (Riverhead Books, 1998).