Chinese Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving. I’m in China.

My time here has been really intense over the past few weeks. If my tears are any indication I am moving through a growth spurt. I’ve been on a three and half year growth spurt. The encounter with the tangled knots of historical patterns continue, but they unwind and soften against new experiences. I keep hearing my struggle with authority and the challenge of employment through the old voice that finds self-pity a reasonable response to troubling relationships, failed expectations, and lack of experience. What a paradox! I have spent all my life hours in the hollowed halls of academia, yet I am clearly an inexperienced teacher. Humbling. It is also humbling to admit how quickly I’m becoming successful. Just two years ago I was unemployed, having left behind an incomplete Ph.D. One year ago I was working with elementary school children; six months ago I was working with middle school students; now I am working with high school students. If this trajectory continues I should be teaching college in no time.

My dream is to become a great speaker. Have I voiced that clearly enough. Teaching/Preaching the gospel of the integral age, the collectivization of harmonizing global consciousness, the peaceable story of Earthly belonging… and hope.

The education here is a difficult task and suffers from the very pressure it seeks to conquer. It is a global problem shared across many, many peoples. In another post on China I highlighted the excessive dust here. I noticed it first and immediately. I breath it. All my most precious energy/oxygen filled with dust – the dust endlessly flowing from the rubble of frenzied construction. This is the Chinese student. Compressed, cornered, and driven to performance for the sake of a great nation and all its hopes of continued development. Of course the pressure comes from within the very psychic constitution of individual and family demand. Over and over I have heard the discourse describing the Chinese student as “lazy.” I suspected this immediately. I believe we mistake their “laziness” for a fundamental refusal. An obsessive global consumer/capitalist culture driven to performance and test taking has simply crushed the heart and youth from our students. In a repressive society the only acceptable and safe form of refusal to this systemic problem shows up as laziness. We misinterpret our students and push them the harder to counter what we perceive to be laziness when the problem is refusal, mistrust, and anger which desperately needs love. The only way to live this new form of education is to change ourselves. We must be the change our children and students can respect. We are handing them a world full of dust, trash,and unprecedented ecological devastation. Worse we are handing them a world where our own happiness is sold at the counter under the banner of speed, development, money, fame, and power.

But I’m thankful. We do live in a beautiful world. When it rains here in Guilin, the dust settles and the surrounding mountains become visibly enchanted. So I trust in the rain and the tears. They have both been with me as of late.

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The Longing for Esalen

Last night I found myself looking at pictures of Esalen, dotted with the faces of people I admire and love. I attended a program at CIIS called Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. My alma-mater takes their annual retreat to Esalen. The program has its spiritual and intellectual inheritance bound to Esalen. I have greatly desired to join them for the past couple of years, but circumstances have lead me elsewhere.

Last night I felt a sadness. I longed to be in communion with these people and the land of Esalen. It calls to me. Every time I go I leave part of my identity there. In times I am alone I leave it. It stays with the bridges and the running water. It reminds me of my destiny in promises and in the wings of butterflies.

Sadness is a gift. The memories of past lives that will never recover – the feelings of inevitable impermanence deep with longing. Lost in memory the presence of experience finds passage, escape… and I feel some lingering feeling of doubt, as if I should not be starring. Who can stay so long in memory? Under its weight the body fails and demands attention. I have to piss or whatever.

This gift of mourning – mourning is a good word here – it brings me back to the validity of reality, of my demanding breath which is the constitution of my body. I am here, indeed. The longing for Esalen, for whatever gifts I perceive as not-yet, as with-held, as fore-gone, those unwrap into the power of duty and commitment to ones place.

My prayers have grown in power and attendance. I am sure Esalen has something to do with this because its memory is with me, I carry it. I hope in my return to its shores… perhaps it hopes in me…