I was reminded recently that the great Indian saint Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj once said, “Evil is the stench of a diseased mind.”
As we all know, one of the greatest challenges we face right now in this country is the powerful influence of a diseased mind, and another is the spread of the disease itself — and no matter where we live, who we know, what we do for work, our degree of social power, each of us in on the front lines of this battle.
In the face of so much hatred and ignorance, how do we prevent ourselves from succumbing to it and crumbling into hopelessness or lashing out in hatred? How do we hold on to our own goodness when we are provoked so powerfully into anger, bitterness, and sadness? How do we accept our fear, our rage, without drowning in it? Or drowning others in it?
Whatever actions we are involved in, they are led by the heart and we must do what we can to keep it soft and strong, tender, penetrating, and clear. Ringing the Bells each day at sunrise and sunset is not going to topple the regime, but it is one part of securing the sanctity of our own hearts, of strengthening the connection to our own goodness, with our deepest aspirations for ourselves and for the world, and of nourishing ourselves with the camaraderie of care.
I have found it goes a long way to keeping my own heart and mind healthy. I have been waking up each morning about an hour before sunrise and practicing walking meditation as the sky starts to shift into its brightening colors, watching and listening to the sounds of people getting ready for their days, heading to work, jogging, the sounds of dogs and birds (where I live, especially roosters) beginning their morning routines. During this sacred hour I have become privy to certain intimacies with the world, even with my own heart and body, that I am not often witness to. My normal exclusion from them is not because I have not been invited, but rather because I have simply not shown up — and it feels good to be showing up. For two days now a pueo, the endangered Hawaiian owl, has silently flown by me during this morning walking, and I am reminded of the magic of these liminal times, between day and night, between one society and the next, and how important it is to be open to all that may surprise and nourish us there. When I finally go to ring my bell, this sense of connection and tenderness coalesces around all of you, ringing in solidarity. It is a beautiful and inspiring way to begin my day and I have no doubt that you have yourself experienced some version of it as well.
As always, it would be great to hear from you and help share any stories or reflections you may have on this commitment at any point. We are now at 95 people who have made the pledge online but I know of a number of others who are also ringing the bells but have not actually gone online. To whatever degree you feel comfortable, continue to encourage others to join us. I’ll be doing another big push in April, but until then we’ll just see how it goes on its own.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ringthebells when you post on social media so we can find your material and support it!
Though I am on retreat, I’ll be in touch every so often with updates and encouragements. Until then, continue to ring them bells with as much beauty as you can muster.
love and solidarity