Humble Spiritual Activism In Times Of Containment

Posted by Jasky Sor on Mar 21, 2020
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[ For those who, like me, are afraid to stay at home. :) ]

The morning after the containment's decision in France, I received a poster made by a monk. It shows a meditator sitting alone with his shadow reflecting the form of a Buddha, the expression of the full potential of any living being. The monk titled the poster “Vows.” It was a very timely gift as it made me reflected: “Jasky, what could be your vows for the next weeks, the next months in containment? What could be your resolutions at home? If you don’t reflect on them now, you will regret, because you know yourself too much from your past experiences: you will easily slack off. Your apartment is a place of many distractions (internet, TV, sofa, fridge, games...), where you have built so many bad habits (by over-surfing, over-sleeping, over-eating, over-stimulating, over-dreaming...) there.

Indeed, for ten years, whenever I have an opportunity to attend a retreat, I have made sure to do it. To escape from my realities. Monasteries or ServiceSpace campus offer me environments where my senses are less solicited, so I can return the light to the essentials and work on myself. This poster was a timely trigger for me to reflect on what is the best way to respond to this unprecedented situation according to my conditions: sharing a 65 sqm Parisian apartment for some months with my mum and young brother. It is a priceless blessing for me to face my realities, to transform my habits and to ask myself: What is the gift I would like to offer to my “Futur Self” and the “Futur Others” that I will meet at the end of this turbid time?

That day, with this question in mind, I resolved to set some creative constraints up first. And, Vinoba Bhave's perspective about "bringing regularity and moderation to life" inspired me to design a schedule based on the balance of daily activities for the next coming weeks. All activities are included in these three categories: Heart (orange) - Head (red) - Hand (blue).




The schedule has the flavor of the rigorous routine found in monasteries mixed with ServiceSpace retreats' field of emergence style. But, I was still sitting with another question: "How to strike a satisfactory balance between inner cultivation and outer action, or action in the world during this particular time?"

Some of the answers naturally emerge by themselves after a few days of practice.
  • Working on the Inner-Net
Heart Activities in my schedule seem to be quite dominant. But Bhikkhu Bodhi tremendously inspires me when he said:
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"as a generalization is for action in the world to be truly transformative and effective, it should come from a place (to some degree) from inner stillness, stability, and balance, and also as an expression of true compassionate concern for others and for the wellbeing of the world; and not come from the position of anger, aggression, hostility toward those with whom one disagrees."
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So I feel this needs to work on my Inner-Net and transfer any merits generated to those who are going through hard times. My thoughts go to all the patients, to all the direct and indirect victims of Covid-19 who departed alone, to their mourning families, to all the "front-line" people.
  • Indirect service to communities
During this week, I resolved to reduce my exposition to social networks and media dramatically, because I noticed that negative emotions (fear and frustration in particular) arose after reading or watching the news. Instead, choosing what to expose my senses to allows the stillness and tranquility of mind to be cultivated. Responding to fear with a calm mind is a form of service to my (online or close) communities.

Tonight, we will host an online Big Talk Circle as a pretext to engage conversation. :) The principle of the game is to randomly choose one of the 90 cards with a "Big Talk" question - a simple excuse to hold space for friends to express their concerns.

  • Saving sleep and food
Thanks to the schedule, my senses are less solicited, my mind is less scattered: I only need to follow my program. I don't have to make a lot of decisions. It saves a lot of energy. The direct consequence is that my body doesn't need as much sleep or food as before! So progressively, I can skip my dinner. The little food saved today becomes a humble act of service to the world during this time of scarcity.
  • Serving the Emergence
We are just at the beginning of this unprecedented event. We are going to face a tsunami of sorrow, but we are also going to encounter a tsunami of kindness and solidarity. And, I am sitting with this question: how can I be grounded enough so I can respond to each situation accordingly?

I am still profoundly inspired by our Gandhi 3.0 Retreat and the theme of "Lighthouse" shared by Preeta.
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“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” - Anne Lamott
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This quote reminds me that my actions should come from within, from a place of stillness and deep care for others. My urgency of now is to tell myself that there is no urgency, even if I feel like a tsunami of kindness is emerging in France.

Indeed, thanks to the labor-of-love of Olivier, TEN volunteers emerge this week for translating Awakin Readings into French! A Heart-Storming hosted by Patrick allowed so many ideas to unfold! Next Wednesday, an Online Awakin Circle will be hosted by Caroline! And, many more projects are emerging... It seems like the French Gang will also be touched by the Karuna (Sanskrit word for compassion) Virus!

As Audrey (or Old-Tree as some of us call her :)) shared, "uncertain times raise significant questions that can architect a new story for our future.​​​​​​"​ I feel so grateful to serve this new story by according with the conditions in a "Silent Paris"! :)

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Comments (6)

  • Frank wrote ...

    Thanks for sharing your blessing with us. You are a real ladder for french gang ^^

  • Audrey Lin wrote ...

    Wow, so inspired to see this, Jasky!

  • Marius Luca wrote ...

    Thanks for sharing, Jasky. You're thoughts resonate greatly with my own these days. Blessings.

  • Janessa Wilder wrote ...

    Thank you, Jasky. This is so inspiring.

  • Kartik wrote ...

    Beautiful to read this Jasky, evokes a contemplative mind in me. Thank you :)

  • Trishna Shah wrote ...

    Such a beautiful, heartfelt intention to hold Jasky, thank you for sharing and inspiring us with your commitment to live in deep alignment with your values.