Mindfulness and the Covid Freedom Rallies: Civil Resistance Approached with a Love Consciousness
This Weeks Video
Tomorrow I am going to attend a local Freedom of Choice rally with the intention of contributing a consciousness of love as opposed to one of fear. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet and playwright wrote a play called the New England Tragedies, which was published 1868. The play follows the plight of several Quakers who were about to be incarcerated, and most possibly executed for choosing not to be aligned with the ‘approved’ Puritan religion. One of the key characters in Longfellow's play is a woman called Edith who has been sentenced by Governor Endicott for heresy.
For out of your own mouth are you condemned!
The sentence of the Court is, that you be
Scourged in three towns, with forty stripes save one,
Then banished upon pain of death!
The establishment of the Puritan colonies meant that only those who were deemed to be ‘truly righteous’ had the right to vote and participate in political leadership. And even though Quakers in England came under the umbrella of Puritanism, the new religious code of the American colonies deemed them to be heretical. By 1650, several had been executed, with many others being whipped, incarcerated, and banished.
Their freedoms were eventually guaranteed by decree from King Charles in 1651, and Edith, along with her six male companion, were freed. The course of their conversation, while they were detained, centred around their own impending punishment and possible execution, and recalling the fate of their other Quaker friends. Edith reminds them that they have the choice to either entertain fear at this time, or honour their faith in the spiritual ideals that they subscribe to. She goes on to say,
Let us then labour for an inward stillness,
an inward stillness and an inner healing,
that perfect silence where the lips and the heart are still,
and we no longer entertain our own imperfect thoughts and vain opinions.
In our modern vernacular this is a reminder to be mindful. To be mindful through ‘inwards stillness’ and ‘perfect silence’. This, she explains, is achieved by stilling the thoughts (the lips) and the passions (the heart) that fuel their fear. She goes on to explain that in this place you would ‘no longer entertain’ your own ‘imperfect thoughts and vain opinions’. In the realm of quantum physics, this is understood how change happens. When something is authentically observed, it changes.
Mahatma Gandhi understood this principle, such that it became the foundation to his method of revolution, that eventually was a significant catalyst for freeing India from British rule. He was clear that his protest was not passive resistance, but more what he called love-force, or soul-force, and as such coined the term satyagraha (staya meaning truth, and āgraha being polite resistance). This approach for creating change influenced both Martin Luther King Jnr and James Bevel during the Civil Right Movement in the USA, and Nelson Mandela’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa. In explaining his approach to revolution Gandhi wrote,
I have also called it love-force or soul-force. In the application of satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on oneself.
Martin Luther King Jnr made this observation, “It was the Gandhian emphasis on love and non-violence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking.”
Longfellow’s Edith Christison takes it one step further.
And God alone speaks in us,
and we wait in singleness of heart that we know His will,
and in the silence of our spirits
that we may do His will, and do that only.
This suggests that when we have the ability to maintain loving mindfulness, in other words, in each moment remember that we have a choice to be kinder to ourselves, to others, and to the planet, we are able to access Divine wisdom, knowledge and understanding that is immersed in love. Fear, as a consciousness of scarcity feeds injustice, love as a consciousness of abundance feeds justice.
The word justice arose from the justitia which shared the same Latin root as the word righteousness, which is a quality of consciousness that demonstrates “loving your neighbour as yourself”. This dual meaning was found in both Greek and Hebrew languages, where there was just one word for both justice and righteousness. In Hebrew, that word was tzedakah, which also meant charity. This gives rise to the word justice being used in the context of social justice.
In one sentence, the will of the Divine is love.
Gandhi proposed a series of rules for satyagrahis to follow in a resistance campaign:
Harbour no anger.
Suffer the anger of the opponent.
Never retaliate to assaults or punishment; but do not submit, out of fear of punishment or assault, to an order given in anger.
Voluntarily submit to arrest or confiscation of your own property.
If you are a trustee of property, defend that property (non-violently) from confiscation with your life.
Do not curse or swear.
Do not insult the opponent.
Neither salute nor insult the flag of your opponent or your opponent's leaders.
If anyone attempts to insult or assault your opponent, defend your opponent (non-violently) with your life.
As a prisoner, behave courteously and obey prison regulations (except any that are contrary to self-respect).
As a prisoner, do not ask for special favourable treatment.
As a prisoner, do not fast in an attempt to gain conveniences whose deprivation does not involve any injury to your self-respect.
Joyfully obey the orders of the leaders of the civil disobedience action.
If we can maintain the satyagraha approach to civil resistance, then we can maintain our centre of peace. When sufficient people (a critical mass) can sustain their centre of peace, then reality has to conform. A book written in 1897 by Ralph Waldo Trine entitled In Tune with the Infinite included this paragraph.
“Where are you going?” asked an Eastern pilgrim on meeting the plague one day. “I am going to Bagdad to kill five thousand people,” was the reply. A few days later the same pilgrim met the plague returning. “You said to me you were going to Bagdad to kill five thousand people,” said he, “but instead, you killed fifty thousand.” “No,” said the plague, “I killed only five thousand, as I told you I would; the others died of fright.”
Mindfulness is remembering in each moment that you have a choice to be kinder to yourself and to others. This often requires self-suffering that patience brings in order to vindicate the truth. Civil resistance with regards to the issues surrounding the Covid pandemic, can be done mindfully.
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