Tent City/Faith and Spirituality/Essays and Words

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Rick Heller @seeingtheroses

The problem the Occupy movement confronts is the greed of the 1%. But greed is an aspect of the human condition, and few of us can be sure if we found ourselves elevated into the 1% that we would act differently.

In the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha identified grasping desire as the key source of suffering. As a solution, he proposed an Eightfold path of thought and action. Among the eight elements is mindfulness, the practice of paying attention to the present moment with a friendly, accepting attitude.

We have been holding mindfulness meditations at OccupyBoston. In a meditation at the Sacred Space tent, we focused on the sounds present around us. When paying attention mindfully, even the sounds of trucks and sirens can bring joy. Friday night, Buddhist monks and nuns from Plum Village in France led us on a mindful walking meditation from OccupyBoston to Copley Square.

When mindful, we learn that noticing the slightest things in our present environment can make us happy. This can be a cure for greed. If millionaires were mindful, they would not cling to their wealth so tightly. Instead, they would intuitively understand that sharing a large portion of their wealth through either philanthropy or taxation could meet the basic needs of the 99% without any real loss to themselves.

Those of us in the 99% can serve as role models for people in the 1% who are seeking liberation from greed. To do this, we must be mindful of our own desires and ask whether we truly need these things, or if we might share them with others who have even less than we do. In this way, compassion may “trickle up” to the 1% and liberate us all from greed.


Changing the World, One Meditation at a Time

Stephanie Eich (on twitter: @squibbish)

Life is full of challenges and demands. Long, crowded commutes on the train or in cars stuck in traffic. Paying bills, rent or mortgages. Trying to find a job. Picking up kids from daycare. Watching news stories that show a world embroiled in war and conflict. Managing our personal relationships. Protesting inequality. The list goes on and on. Lacking capacity to successfully manage these demands leads to stress -- stress that radiates outward and pollutes the atmosphere just as much as the toxic fumes belched from factory smokestacks.

So how can the simple act of sitting quietly for a period of time every day possibly have any effect on a world filled with such complex issues? When we meditate, our bodies enter a period of deep rest. During this restful state, we release stresses and fatigue that have accumulated within us. Ultimately, we are able to deal with the demands of our crazy world more effectively and creatively. Additionally, we reduce our contribution of stress and unhappiness into the atmosphere.

The collective sum of positive energy generated by meditators leads to change in the world. The change may be subtle, but noticeable, by others -- a sense of peace they can't quite put their finger on but can feel.

In the tumultuous events of today, as the whole world watches this Occupy movement, generating positive energy is especially important. By meditating, we give energy to those who work so hard to maintain the camps. We diffuse arguments from those who don't understand without saying a word.

And I don't believe there is one "right" way to meditate. I follow a Vedic practice, but I was overjoyed to sit with meditators from a variety of practices in Copley Square a few weeks ago. As we sat together in silence, there was a palpable change in the air. I could feel the vendors who were taking down their stands at the farmers market quiet their activities out of respect to what they were witnessing. I know that every person who walked by the Square that night received a benefit by seeing us all together.

I will always hold signs and march and talk with others seeking to understand OB means. But I truly believe the most important contribution I'm making is during those 40 minutes of the day when I sit with my eyes closed.