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February Update

Friends,

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

Jesse

Another great rendition of the Dylan classic!

#ringthebells

 

94 Bell Ringers!

Friends, as of today we’ve got 94 people ringing bells across the country! Fantastic! Keep it up, good people! #ringthebells

It tolls for thee…

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

  • John Donne

As of today, we have 81 people tolling the bells for freedom!

 

Don’t forget to make the pledge online!

Friends, as of this morning we have 63 people across the country who have made the pledge to ring bells at sunrise and sunset for the duration of the current administration!

For those of you out there joining us, please don’t forget to register online so that we know you are out there!

 

A great rendition of a classic! Sam Cooke – “If I had a Hammer”

If I had a bell

I’d ring it in the morning

I’d ring it in the evening

all over this land.

I’d ring out danger

I’d ring out a warning

I’d ring out love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land

#ringthebells

 

2nd Letter to Participants

Friends,

I’m sure you were inspired after the resounding success of the powerful marches this weekend for Women’s rights across the nation. We needed this. It was a truly uplifting day to be a part of and a witness to. We deeply need these reminders for ourselves – in our hearts, our bodies, our relationships, and in media of all kinds – to remember where our potential collective power lives. It was amazing.

We are all in this for the long haul — but we cannot march every day. The momentum of a peak solidarity experience can carry us a long while, and can even be a touchstone for our entire lives, but over time some dissipation is unavoidable. Our movements can suffer greatly because we cannot conjure that visceral reminder of our togetherness, our camaraderie, our power during these lulls. This is partly why we Ring the Bells. 

When we ring the bells at sunrise and sunset, we participate in a simple yet steady reminder of this solidarity for ourselves and for each other – like a heartbeat of remembrance – and this is invaluable in the long-term work for justice and the long-term security of our hearts.

As I wrote in a previous email, I will be going into silent meditation retreat for the next 2 and a half months or so and so will be largely out of touch.  A few illustrious fellow Bell Ringers will be helping take care of the website and the Facebook page, blog, etc in my absence and when I’m back we can see if anyone else may want to get more involved in that level of things.

In the meantime, please consider sending anecdotes, stories, testimonials, photos and such to this email address and we will begin to compile them for sharing on the blog and elsewhere. It will be great for us to share a sense of the impact with one another, and of course the larger world.

Don’t forget to like our facebook page, follow us on instagram and on twitter – and post photos, videos, and the like with the hashtag #ringthebells

As of today we are 46 people who have committed to the pledge! May we all ring what is in our hearts.

Love!

Jesse

(Not that it really matters who I am, but in case you feel that these emails are coming out of the anonymous ether, you can read a bit about me here)

first email to participants

Hello Good People,

I hope you are all well. I’m so glad to be writing this email to you all and am looking forward to being on this journey together! Right now, there are 37 people who have made the pledge to ring a bell at sunrise and sunset each day for the duration of the presidency. There is something so deeply meaningful that I already feel about us sharing this practice that cannot be put into words but that I am truly moved by. I hope that we all feel some version of it each day when we take the time to connect with ourselves and one another in this powerful way. The more we let ourselves feel it, the more it will push us forward to keep going – in the ritual and in our lives and work during the coming times.

I know there will be days that we miss, when conditions prevent us from being perfect about each day’s bells, or when the most we can muster in the morning is rolling over and flicking a glass on our nightstand and going back to sleep! It’s OK. This is a long commitment and it is better with such things not to be too uptight. If we are too hard on ourselves, we will fill the ritual with bitterness. When you do ring your bells, feel good. I expect that the sense of shared practice to align ourselves with our deepest aspirations for ourselves, our country, our planet will be a powerful motivating force to propel us deeper into this simple commitment.

This is both a protest and ritual and while those things can support one another, they are not always fueled by the same forces. For the sake of the protest, there is a value for this ringing of the bells to grow in numbers. So I do encourage everyone to participate as much as feels good to spread the word of your own commitment as well as find and encourage others to join who may be sympathetic and inspired by such an endeavor.

On the other hand, as a ritual it doesn’t matter if anyone else joins us. The integrity and power of our actions just for ourselves is enough to provide all the meaning and value we need from it. Feel good about your actions in this no matter if you feel deeply connected with many others or very isolated. It is the practice that matters.

During the next few months, please share your photos and videos of bell ringing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, on our page and also with the hashtag #ringthebells so that word about our commitment continues to spread. But most important is to just keep doing it and keep remembering that there is a growing number of people joining us, whether in this particular ritual or in the necessary work to help protect all the things we care about in our society and push us toward a world of more justice, more love, more equality, and more peace.

I look forward to joining you all on Saturday morning as we begin our effort together

Until soon,

Love and Solidarity

Jesse

Ring Them Bells

The Chimes of Freedom

“Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing…”

#ringthebells
#chimesoffreedom