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The Authority to Do & Say What Needs Doing & Saying (the “missing” Monday post) April 3, 2023

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Abhyasa, Books, Changing Perspectives, Dharma, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Faith, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Lent, Life, Music, One Hoop, Pain, Peace, Philosophy, Ramadan, Religion, Suffering, Tragedy, Vairagya, Wisdom, Writing, Yoga.
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Blessings to anyone observing Holy Monday / Passion Monday or Great Lent! “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone who is observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all during this “Season for Non-violence” and all other seasons!

This “missing” post for Monday, April 4th. You can request an audio recording of this practice (or a date-related practice) via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice. Donations are tax deductible.

Check out the “Class Schedules” calendar for upcoming classes.)

“If You See Something, Say Something®

– the original New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority slogan to promote public safety

The message is everywhere (at least in the United States). It’s on billboards and posters, commercials and print ads, public service announcements and t-shirts. In fact, the message is so ubiquitous, it feels like it’s been around forever. And maybe, on some level it has. However, the slogan was actually a campaign that was trademarked and implemented by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (NY MTA) after the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. Nine years after the attack (in July of 2010),  the NY MTA granted the U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) permission to use slogan as part of a national anti-terrorism campaign. That campaign created partnerships with state and local governments, federal agencies, major sports leagues, transit stations, entertainment venues, private businesses, places of worship, nonprofits, schools, and many other types of organizations – which is why the message is, quite literally, everywhere.

There’s even a National “If You See Something, Say Something®” Awareness Day (September 25), also known as #SeeSayDay, which serves the same two-fold purpose as the overall campaign:

  1. To remind everyone to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, that might be related to terrorism
  2. To empower people to report suspicious activity to the proper authorities

Part of that first part requires people to be able to recognize suspicious activity (that might be related to terrorism) and, also, to recognize that we all play a part in public safety. The second part gives people the authority to act. All in all, it is a great campaign. Of course, some interesting things have happened since 2001, with regard DHS’s national campaign. First, the definition of “suspicious activity” has expanded to include anything that might be criminal and/or that makes someone uncomfortable. Second, some people feel more empowered than others. Then there’s a third outcome, predicated by the other two. One might even call it an “unintended consequence.”

Sometimes the people who feel most empowered to report “suspicious activity” are uncomfortable with innocuous activities – which can create (and has created) situations where actually suspicious activity is not reported. It’s a double-edged sword that, in some ways, presents every individual with a moral (and practical) conundrum:

How do we fulfill our purpose (according to the “law”) and by whose authority can we exert our judgment/opinion about someone else’s behavior?

The following is an abridged (and slightly revised/expanded) version of this 2019 Kiss My Asana Offering, which included a featured pose.

“One’s personal duty in life (one’s sva-dharma) should be viewed as one’s highest responsibility to his or her highest Self, the Atma. This ultrahigh level of duty carries with it the requirement that one never does anything that is contrary to this True Self Within. And even if you consider your sva-dharma more narrowly from the standpoint of being true to your profession, you should not hesitate to fight. For a warrior, war against evil, greed, cruelty, hate, and jealousy is the highest duty.”

– Krishna speaking to Arjuna (2.31) in The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley

Sacred texts from a variety of different cultures, tell us that everyone has a purpose. However, even if you don’t believe the old adage, science has shown that people who live a purpose driven life have better physical and mental health and stronger resilience than their peers. It’s a bit of a cycle: we need our mind-body-spirit to fulfill a purpose and fulfilling the purpose strengthens our mind-body-spirit so that we are better equipped to fulfill the purpose.

Sometimes, however, we do things – or don’t do things – that sap our energy and drag us down. If our mind-bodies are temples, then the things that sap our energy are like thieves in the temple. Thieves can be eating the wrong foods; drinking too much of the wrong beverages and/or not drinking enough water; not resting; not exercising; partaking in illicit drugs;  not managing stress; and/or being surrounded by negative opinions. Doesn’t matter what they are though, because at some point we have to throw the thieves out of the temple in order to restore the temple to its original purpose.

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,” (Matthew 21:12 KJV)

“And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13 KJV)

 – The Gospel According to Matthew

Passion Monday, or Holy Monday, is associated with the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. According to the New Testament Gospels, Jesus is very clear about his purpose as he enters the last week of his life. He understands that there will be suffering (hence, the passion), trials, tribulation, and betrayal, and joy. He knows he will be tested and tempted (yet another passion/suffering). It is unclear if he knows how quickly the suffering will begin, but suffice it to say, it is immediate.

When he returns to Jerusalem for Passover, Jesus finds that the Temple of Jerusalem had been turned into a defacto market place. All four (4) canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) state that Jesus runs the livestock and the merchants out, and overturns the tables of the money changers and the dove sellers. He then begins to heal the sick and to teach, thus restoring the temple to its original purpose. Children praise him and this, along with everything else, riles up the establishment.

In three (3) of the New Testament Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) several groups of the establishment question Jesus’ authority and his views on taxes. First he is asked, “By what authority are you doing these things?” To which, Jesus asks his own question regarding the authority of the then wildly popular John the Baptist:

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Matthew 21:24 KJV)

“The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?” (Matthew 21:25 KJV)

“And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” (Matthew 21:26 KJV)

Later, in another attempt to trap Jesus, the elders ask him if the Jewish people should pay taxes to the Roman Empire. He asks them to show him a coin suitable for payment and, when they present a coin with a Roman face on the front – specifically, Caesar’s face – Jesus says, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)

“But if you do not fight this battle of good over evil, you will fail in both your worldly duty and in your duty to your very Self. You will violate your sva-dharma. Not doing the right thing when it is required is worse than doing the wrong thing.”

– Krishna speaking to Arjuna (2.33) in The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley

Just like Jesus in the New Testament, we can all find ourselves in situations where we feel the responsibility to speak up and do the right thing. We may even find that someone questions our authority to do what we feel must be done. In fact, we may be the one questioning whether we have the authority (or the correct information) to do something. And that last part is crucial; because – as we must remember – part of the DHS campaign was about awareness.

Just like Patanjali, Western Science, delineates a conscious, unconscious, and subconscious part of the mind. In the Yoga Sūtras, Patanjali also described four levels of conscious-awareness: gross, subtle, bliss, and I-ness. (YS 1.17) Those first two levels (gross and subtle) must be engaged in order for us to fulfill our purpose. If they are not engaged, then we are like a zombie, sleep-walking through life.

“The great error in Rip’s composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor.”

– quoted from “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving

Passion Week, or Holy Week, is associated with a moveable feast and, therefore, falls at different times on the Gregorian calendar. This year, Passion Monday (in the Western Christian and Roman Catholic traditions) coincides with the anniversary of the birth of Washington Irving (born April 3, 1783), whose “Rip Van Winkle” can be connected to ancient Greek philosophy and to a story about ancient Christians that appears in the Qur’an.

Just like each person has a purpose in life (and with regard to public safety), each part of the mind-body plays a part in our ability to fulfill our purpose. Just like things we consume – food, drink, media, experiences – can be the thieves that prevent us from doing our duty, so too can an injury… or, something as simple as one part of our body “falling asleep.”

Technically (medically) speaking, a body part falling asleep is “transient (temporary) paresthesia,” which occurs when pressure on the nerves and/or reduced blood flow causes a disconnect between the brain and the affected body part. In addition to the affected body part not working properly until it “wakes up,” a person may stop all other conscious activity in order to resolve the issue with the one part that is in pain. To add insult to injury, it’s not only painful when part of the body falls asleep, it’s also painful to “wake” it up. But, we must, if we are to (safely) function as a (united) whole.

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”

– quoted from a sermon (or speech at the pulpit) given on March 8, 1965, by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  

Click here for the 2020 Passion Monday blog post (which focuses on one way the mind-body eliminates the thieves.

There is no playlist for the Common Ground Meditation Center practices.

When I do use a playlist for this “detox flow,” this makes the cut.

### “Love come quick / Love come in a hurry” ~ Prince ###


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