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would you like to read my speech?
just came back from the world peace and yoga jubilee where i gave a speech on “speaking your truth” and “being the change you wish to see in the world.” it was a wonderful festival and i thought i would reprint the speech so you could read it. please comment and let me know what you think!
I am so honored and excited to be here, speaking in front of some of my teachers and friends who have totally changed my life. This also makes me a bit nervous, but luckily I subscribe to the theory that we are all one- that I am you and you are me- and so, this will be the best speech of all time! And if it sucks, well, it’s your fault!
I love that the theme of this conference is “Speak your truth.”
Here’s my truth I don’t know what my truth actually is. Well, I do for now, but truth is an ever evolving experience as we move closer to it. Any truth that stops changing is right for that instant, and thereafter nevermore. I know that sounds like it comes from some really deep teacher or something and it does. Actually, i have the great fortune to study with an amazing teacher -who prefers it if I don’t share his name- and he believes that there are many layers of ego, and a true seeker is always in the search. The problem happens as soon as we know something for certain. That’s when we fixate and our ears and minds become closed to any other point of view. Suddenly we have created separation and disunity and therefore deny the truths of others. How powerful can our truth be if it must squelch the truth of others in order to have veracity?
But I could be wrong…
Every time I am certain I am right that’s when I’m the most wrong. This my teacher has shown me time and time again.
For example. I am a vegan, and I am proud of that because it took me a lot of sacrifice in the beginning to give up what I thought was my favorite food. But I was more interested in following my truth- which is that I didn’t want to hurt animals and I didn’t want to hurt the planet- as you all know factory farming is destroying the environment. But it is important never to rest on your laurels or your identification as “vegan” if it is making you act arrogantly or not in ultimate service of the Divine. It’s important, even in this regard, to not even think you “know.” Buddhists say cultivate the “I Don’t Know Mind.” I don’t know… but sounds like good advice to me! One day, someone gave me the book “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” translation by Swami Satchidananda. Satchitananda says he used to go see a saint who drank brandy and ate meat. And I couldn’t believe it. I am not suggesting you go do this because anyway I am not convinced yet that any of you are saints- but I think the more humility we can cultivate, actually maybe the more we can get our way! When I first met my illustrious teacher, he was eating chicken. And then actually lit up a cigarette !! Now, not only am I a vegan but I am obsessed with birds. I have 2 cockatiels that I’ve adopted named, in fact Patanjali, and…Ernie. I am a staunch anti-smoking advocate. I was sure this guy was an asshole. Then I heard him speak, and then I saw him look right through me with uncanny precision and tell me what I do to sabotage truly knowing and becoming my truth- truly becoming my expressed self. I thought back to the yoga sutras and I thought maybe I should listen to this guy. And thank God I did because he has brought me closer to the truth than I have ever been. And I never saw him smoke again either. Holding space for the chicken eating..in a non judgemental way!
Even Gandhi understood this concept that no single truth can represent the whole. In one story, Muslims had killed the son of Hindu man and the man asked Gandhi what he should do. Gandhi told the Hindu man to adopt an orphaned Muslim child and raise him Muslim, not Hindu. Why do you think Gandhi would suggest this? The man would be forced to find the truth in the religion he hated. Also, the child would grow up learning to love Hindus. It was the ultimate surrender- giving up the security of everything he knew to be true to find an even higher expression of truth.
Gandhi also said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”- yeah ok but how? There are so many levels to the Ego and the unconscious that it requires HUGE amounts of courage, willingness, plus a good guide to unearth the trappings. Most of us are just sheep, doing what we are told and following what everyone else says and does.
Close your eyes….get really comfortable…. And… become relaxed but receptive….. Aha!!!! You did just what I said! My point exactly. If you want to find what keeps YOU from your truth, you can consider the 7 deadly sins list: Pride, Greed, Envy, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Sloth. Notice that Pride heads the list. That includes Arrogance, or thinking you “know” anything. Spiritual pride? Blechhhh! Remember, the meek shall inherit the earth. By the way humility does not mean that you don’t know that you are great at what you do. For example I know that I am awesome at music, because of the Divine flowing through me- That is Divine Pride. Ok so after you have identified one -or let’s face it- probably ALL of these sins- or shall we call them rather: Universal-human-attributes-that-are-less -than -helpful -on –the- path -to -enlightenment-, THEN ask the Divine (whatever your concept of it is) to illuminate something you are doing that you don’t even KNOW you are doing which is in service to your Ego. Then wait for signs in the outside world to show you where you are still accepting a limited truth. Not to fear- we all do that-it’s just- how dedicated are you to your own evolution? And since we are all one organism- therefore how dedicated are you to the planet’s evolution?
My favorite prayer I learned at Jivamukti Yoga is “Lokah Samasta Sukinoh Bhavantu” – May all beings everywhere be happy and free; and may my thoughts, words and actions contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all. Thoughts, words and actions! Wow that is a lot of vigilance that is being asked of us. But this is the only way to evolve the human race. There is so much unconsciousness in the world and in myself we have a heavy task ahead. But I ask you- is there any other task? Amassing more money, more fame, getting the perfect boyfriend? I would rather have perfect thoughts, words, and actions personally, and I chase that with all the earnestness I possess. That’s not to say that I don’t fail miserably. Constantly. I don’t know about you but I have had the experience of meditating very peacefully on this very mantra, and then my boyfriend will clang pans and pots, completely oblivious of my “precious” meditation- and I have cracked an eye open and said “What the F are you doing?!” Hmmmm. Lots of work to do. Ram Dass said, any idiot can meditate in a cave, but try living with your mother for 2 weeks and not go crazy! Real spiritual practice that is.
It takes tremendous courage to go into the dark depths of the human Ego and shine your little God flashlight in there. And nobody really wants to do it, preferring to be emotionally and spiritually shut down with any number of human inventions- alcohol; pot; non-purposeful relationships; Entertainment Weekly; Haagen Dasz; (or maybe for this crowd- pints of Coconut Bliss); mind numbing television; excessive spending; not paying attention to my awesome speech- the list goes on and on.
Most everyone here agrees that being of service to our fellow man and our earth, and doing God’s will is why we are here on this planet. How do you know what is God’s will and what is your will? My teacher says it’s simple. Usually, whatever you DON’T want to do is God’s will and whatever you DO want to do is your will. Damn. Thus you see how willing and courageous and humble you have to be to actually know the truth- i.e. God’s will- and then heaps more courage to actually speak it out in the world. Massive amounts of courage, willingness and humility will be the only way we can evolve and change the world. So better pray for this holy knowledge and for a guide like the one I miraculously found.
Some great guy said “A life unexamined is not worth living.” I didn’t have time to google who said it- I am busy examining myself so I can know my truth. So, Leave no mental stone unturned, let us all cultivate humility and not-knowingness, and let us all truly be the change we want to see in the world. Thank you.