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Well, “Another Story” started celebrating Columbus-Day-In-Reverse over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend:


photo taken on the eve of — Oct. 9, 2016 Sunday

Canada and the US share the same history with the same implications of celebrating, “being grateful for last year’s harvest” (the official meaning of our Thanksgiving in October, their in November). The connection to land, therefore “settlement” on it when it was neither “discovered” per se, nor terra nullius (Lat. “empty land”) as such.

BUT, history does remember occasions when Indigenous people were invited to celebrate with the newcomers, and there’s also the Indigenous tradition of thanksgiving and renewing relationships with land and every (both “living” and “non-living”) thing on it.

so, indeed:     Happy Indigenous Land! — Every Holy Day

Tania uses silver and natural bio-material, such as peach pits, tagua pits, cow skin to create all kinds of imaginative designs.

If you are wondering about TAGUA, well, it’s standard jewellery design material, it seems:

A “Latin Art Jewelry” website explains that it takes several months from the moment the tagua nuts are collected to the moment the product is made and ready for sale. The tagua nut is a dried seed from the tagua palm tree, which grows in the tropical rain forests of South America (Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Brazil). Tagua is known as “natural ivory” or “vegetable ivory”, because of its similarity with ivory — it’s hard, unbreakable, resistant and beautiful.

BUT — tells us the website — “tagua is natural, they don’t have to kill elephant in order to get it”.

Now,

How’s that for an understanding of…

NATURAL? 🙂

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I couldn’t agree more with the concluding sentence above of a Star editorial some 10 days ago…

10, 000 by end of 2015 — 15,000 less than declared by PM Justing Trudeau during his election campaign this Fall. AND, 10,000 in addition to campaign promise, and perhaps more, later in 2016.

Article: HERE with Trudeau photo to brighten it up:

Thus, food for thought on
CITIZEN RESPONSIBILITY

Weeelll, it is exciting to watch

— at 3:00/3:30 pm-ish, on a mild December Friday afternoon —

how the vote count soars, in front of your eyes

http://www.ontariondp.ca/stoptheselloff

59,744 signatures at 3:25

840 at 4:05

 

SUCCESS to Andrea Horvath’s campaign to stop Hydro One’s privatization!

[announced goal is 60,000 sig’s; the time frame = “a little over a week” yesterday THU]

seems safe to bet that we’ll hit the mark in les than 24h (received emailed link THU around noon)


On Toronto Star’s watch:

  • Thu Oct 29 2015 article by  Queen’s Park Bureau Chief

image caption states:

In his first-ever report to the legislature, Ontario budget watchdog [IF I may, we could have done without this “title”] Stephen LeClair said the sale of 60 per cent of Hydro One would hike the already massive provincial debt by slashing revenue. More…

a humorous post that somehow hadn’t gotten posted for awhile 🙂



img credit: free stock images

So, the keywords:

  • “replenish” — term sums up human-human relationship as per Jean Vanier’s book Becoming Human
  • “heartmindfully” — term translates citta = heart + mind + not forgetting the body
  • “to the 7th generation” — metaphorizes the long-term Indigenous responsibility for thought and action

Replenishing One Another

Heartmindfully, to the Seventh Generation

To explore the question of how cross-cultural knowledges can inform the directions and modes in which the human potential of individuals and their communities could unfold, the present paper samples paradigms within the Buddhist and Native North American traditions, and further expands the “difference” taxonomy with the philosophy behind Jean Vanier’s L’Arche network of homes for the disabled. The comparative exploration of such purposefully chosen disparate epistemic-experiential spaces shows that they in fact have in common relatedness to Self, Other, and broader ecosystems. What is more, their overlap matches aspects of Western paradigmatic rebellions such as feminism, ecological and systems thinking models, critical (race/equity) theorizations, a.o., and harkens to the pragmatism of Peirce, James, and Dewey.

The noted overlap is proposed as what can make a difference in education (institutional and life-long) by orienting it toward a world-wide consciousness shift for mutually beneficial thinking-feeling-acting. This is in tune with scholarly efforts that have yielded approaches/models such as Claudia Eppert’s (2010 & elsewhere) “intercultural healing ethic”, Daniel Vokey’s (2001) “moral discourse in a pluralistic world”, Scott Pratt’s (2002) “rethinking of the roots of American philosophy”, James Tully’s (2009, 2014) Indigenous-knowledges informed “public philosophy”, or Jean Vanier’s (1998/2008) tao of “becoming human”.

Starting with Buddhism, its multiple streams (the earlier Theravada Buddhism, the later Tibetan Buddhism, or Zen Buddhism), generated over a period of more than 2,500 years, has a relatively long tradition of exchanges with the West. As far as current insights about concrete applications in educational settings, a number of scholars have engaged key notions like “mindfulness” (in Pali: sati), “heartmind” (Pali and Sanskrit: citta), or the four “divine abodes” (brahmavihāras), commonly rendered as “compassion”, “equanimity”, “lovingkindness”, “sympathetic joy” (in Pali: karunā, upekkhā, mettā, muditā, respectively).

While mindfulness, with its relatively Buddhism-independent status in e.g. current neuropsychology and psychiatry, may not even qualify as cross-cultural translation (of sati) because it misses its content (see Don Nelson, 2010, for the “scientific approach” relying on brain state neurophysiological assessments in D.J. Siegel, 2007, a.o.), there are other notions which seem to exemplify that. A good illustration is the nondualistic “heartmind [and body]” (citta, as in bodhicitta), which, being a single word in Pali, lends an extra leverage to Claudia Eppert’s (2010) de-dichotomization project, and by extension to her argument for citta-informed “heartmind literacy” that, compared to the well exercised “emotional literacy”, is, one might say, a few steps ahead on the way to restoring humans to wholeness, and education to a matching mode.  In a similar vein, Mary Jo Hinsdale (2012) proposes an “ethic of love” to guide the interactions of a professor with her students (and vice versa, I’d add), whereby she replenishes Kelly Oliver’s “theory of witnessing” with the divine abodes, foregrounding “lovingkindness”. Just as Eppert, gaining conceptual-affective traction from Buddhism, argues for a revisioned “heartmind literacy” and also opens up the understanding (Nussbaum’s, a.o.) of the closely related notion of “compassion”, so does Hinsdale enrich Oliver’s argument, and her own, for a view of Self-formation that entails “mutual subjectivity” rather than being bound by the standard, descended from Hegel, of identity-building by way of “recognition” predicated on strife/confrontation.

In a cross-cultural dialogue, the Buddhism scholars discussed above are building bridges to ultural traditions from the “third world”, whether at its original geographical location, or transposed to any other point around the globe by migrants. By giving dignity to culturally distinct knowledges, and thereby to the Others that embody them and to the embedding cultures, the authors can be thought of as contributing substantially to Eppert’s “intercultural healing ethic” project.

Similarly valuated flows can be tracked in Scott Pratt’s argument for a pre-contact “Native pragmatism”, which foreshadowed the classical pragmatism of Peirce, James, and Dewey. He conceptualizes four foundational principles that drive it, namely, interaction, pluralism, community, and growth. By closely following the historical record of exchanges between Indigenous peoples of the American North-East and European settlers, he projects a connection, however indirect, to the founders of American pragmatism, in whose later philosophies he sees the four principles resurfacing. Thus, in a radical move, he puts Indigenous knowledges and their embodying humans, not just on a par with (post-)settler America. In effect, he aligns them with the original colonizer, Europe, whose cultural elites treated the New World as an intellectual clone at best, and first peoples as epistemologically (and even bodily) invisible, only giving grudging (if any) recognition to pragmatism as the first properly American philosophical approach. Taking a look at the West Coast, Richard Atleo, among a growing number of Indigenous scholars, has shown that the Nuu-chah-nulth worldview of tsawalk, or “ontological unity” (a.k.a. interconnectedness), can go far in suggesting an ecologically oriented way of being in the world, informing public activism and state policy (cf. Tully’s public philosophy). As is well known, a number of Indigenous nations pledge responsibility for the world, as the idiom goes, “to the seventh generation”.

Switching situatednesses from the ethnic-political to the embodied, through his work with L’Arche homes for the disabled, Jean Vanier develops a philosophy that is very much in line with the deeper relatedness message of the previous theorizations. “Becoming human” shapes up as the process that teaches one to love difference and its presumed uncanniness/inferiority as well as, and, conversely, to believe in oneself and in the possibility and reality of being loved despite one’s difference.  Far from surprisingly, Vanier shares that the able-bodied and privileged can learn how to give love to the least attractive, in what can aptly be described as the “to and fro” of relationship that is mutually replenishing.

To conclude, in establishing a common denominator the juxtaposition of concordant “old” and “(re)new(ed)” knowledges of relatedness to Self, Other, and the rest of (a)biotic Nature may be downplayed as a cliché (cf. the so-called Golden Rule of loving one’s neighbour that is cross-culturally pervasive). However, I propose to treat the established convergence as an affirmation of a “real would-be” (in Peircean terms) and an opportunity for a turning point in human history. By this token it becomes a promising, edifying (in Rorty’s 1979 terms), formal and public education agenda for the directions and modes in which to think, feel, intuit, act,… and ultimately live-with, and live on.

 

References

Atleo, E. Richard a.k.a. Umeek (2004) Tsawalk: A Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview. Vancouver and Toronto: University of British Columbia Press.

———- (2011) Principles of Tsawalk: An Indigenous Approach to World Crisis. Vancouver and Toronto: University of British Columbia Press.

Eppert, Claudia (2010) “Heartmind Literacy: Compassionate Imaging and the Four Brahmavihäras”, Paideusis 19, no 1 (2010), pp. 17-28.

Eppert, Claudia and Hongyu Wang, eds. (2008) Cross-cultural Studies in Curriculum: Eastern Thought, Educational Insights. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum/Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Hinsdale, Mary Jo (2012) “Choosing to Love”, Paideusis 20, no 2 (2012), pp.  36-45.

Nelson, Donald (2010) “Implementing Mindfulness: Practice as the Home of Understanding”. Paideusis 19, no 1 (2010), pp.  4-14.

Nhat Hanh, Titch (1998) Interbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism. Berkeley: Parallax Press.

Oliver, Kelly (2001) Witnessing: Beyond Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Pratt, Scott L. (2002) Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Rorty, Richard (1979) Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979).

Tully, James (2009) Public Philosophy in a New Key. Volume I: Democracy and Civic Freedom, Volume I I: Imperialism and Civic Freedom. Cambridge University Press.

———- (2014) On global citizenship: James Tully in dialogue. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Vanier, Jean (1998/2008) Becoming Human. CBC Massey Lectures Series. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press.

Vokey, Daniel (2001) Moral Discourse in a Pluralistic World. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

  1. It all started with my search for a Happy B-day! youtube video for my January-born very precious sister 🙂
  2. Then I thought of posting Happy Birth Day addressed to the New 2015 Year.
  3. Then, from one link to the next, I discovered multiple YouTube vids by Kseniya Simonova, a sand virtuosa from Ukrane.

Yet another proof of limit-free human creativity, wouldn’t you say?

Enjoy a few YouTube vids:

  • Sand art film “Beautiful Morocco” (2013) — created for the Foundation of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasna of Morocco. How’s that for a tall order 🙂

 

  • “Dont Give Up” – Published on Feb 4, 2013, meant to uplift kids and adults suffering from cancer

 

  • “Legends of Russia” sand animation (2013) — Published on Apr 12, 2013

 


  • Kseniya Simonova’s biographic film — with English subtitles. Uploaded on Feb 6, 2011

 

  • By the way, with “Legends of China” winner of Ukrane’s Got Talent 2009

 



Since the post-trigger quote by Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) came up in a Becoming Human-adjacent discussion on “enthusiasm” and what it takes to inspire others, here are a few lines by, and a view of, this insightful artist, dubbed “the Picasso of dance”.



Martha Graham and Bertram Ross (1961)
credit: Wikipedia images


  • There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.
    – Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille in “Dance to the Piper”
    Quoted after Kimberly at Stream of Consciousness blog

The quote was tracked through the Wikipedia article on Graham to:

de Mille, Agnes (1991). Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham. NYC: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-55643-7.


More quotes:

  • You can be Eastern or Burmese or what have you, but the function of the body and the awareness of the body results in dance and you become a dancer, not just a human being. ”
    From  Blood Memory
  • Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.
    Quoted after Zaady at Stream of Consciousness blog

 

EVEN MORE  — AT GOODREADS

such as “Misery is a communicable disease”
and

“What people in the world think of you is really none of your business”

A couple of months ago I joined a discussion group of Jean Vanier’s book Becoming Human (2014). This is how I found out about — indeed, discovered — his project L’Arche (The Ark), an international chain of communities, where people with intellectual and other disabilities and those who assist them build a life together — to put it in Becoming Human-terms, they learn Vulnerability to each other, and Belonging.  Today L’Arche spans more than 40 countries. The first of these communities was founded in Trosly-Breuil, France, in 1964, where Vanier is reported to reside at present.

Son of George Vanier (19th Governor General of Canada), sucked into World War 2 as a naval cadet at 15 and squeezed out of its monstrosities wounded for life, Jean Vanier gave up a professor of philosophy career at St Michael’s College, University of Toronto, to pursue what I’d call humane-philosophy-as-a-way-of-life. He is the originator of multiple Change-The-Human-Condition projects, and recipient of high-ranking awards.

His official website greets us with a quote on Fragility :

“We are born in extreme fragility,
and we die in extreme fragility.
Throughout our lives we remain vulnerable,
and at risk of being wounded.
Each child is so vulnerable, so fragile
and without any defenses!”

The way I read him, this is a persistent notion in Vanier’s writings, which, far from wallowing in powerlessness or justifying weaknesses and missteps, invites, indeed obligates, one to take compassion as a doable, honourable [anyone remember that word???], and Self-and-Other-uplifting project. How’s that for a life-long career?


A quick www sampling of quotes from Vanier’s books:

We are first and foremost HEARTS

The person who is hungry, abandoned or in need is first of all a heart who needs to find another heart; someone who will listen, understand and love. Above all, they need friendship: friends who love them and are willing to do things with them.

An Ark for the Poor: The Story of L’Arche  (1995, p.57)

Non-violence

[Prophets of peace] have lived and proclaimed a path of non-violence. They have been able to do this because they received support and lived with a community of men and women of like minds and hearts. “When I despair,” said Mahatma Gandhi, “I remember that throughout history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it always…whenever you are in doubt that that is God’s way – the way the world is meant to be. Think of that and then try to do His way.”

Finding Peace, 2007, page 74

Nurturing Love

Our hearts, spirits and intellects need to be awakened and fed. When people discover their own capacity to give life and hope to others, then they want to give more. There are forces of selfishness and fear in each of us, but where there is good spiritual nourishment, the power to love rises up. At L’Arche, we recognize that if assistants are not sustained and helped to see the meaning and value of their daily lives, apathy sets in and their ability to listen and pay proper attention to others flags. But if they are well nourished, they give life.

Our Journey Home: Rediscovering a Common Humanity Beyond Our Differences, 1997, p. 150

A good description of what he terms in the book “the to and fro” of relationships

It is because we belong with others and see them as brothers and sisters in humanity that we learn not only to accept them as they are, with different gifts and capacities, but to see each one as a person with a vulnerable heart. We learn to forgive those who hurt us or reject us; we ask forgiveness of those we have hurt. We learn to accept humbly those who point out our errors and mistakes and who challenge us to grow in truth and love. We support and encourage each other on the journey to inner freedom. We learn how to be close to those who are weaker and more vulnerable, those who may be sick or going through crises or are grieving. As we accept our personal limits and weaknesses, we discover that we need others and we learn to appreciate others and to thank them.

Becoming Human, 2014, p. 59

*     *     *

The www search for this “HEART-quote” got me started on the present post

The heart is never “successful.” It does not want power, honours, privilege, or efficiency; it seeks a personal relationship with another, a communion of hearts, which is the to-and-fro of love. This opening of the heart implies vulnerability and the offering of our needs and weaknesses. The heart gives and receives but above all, it gives. The heart goes out to those who are humble and who cry out in their weakness and their need for understanding and love. It is the human heart and its need for communion that weakens the walls of ideology and prejudice. It leads us from closedness to openness, from illusion of superiority to vulnerability and humility. Because of this, instead of finding security in the group, we find it in our hearts, which have found a new inner strength, a real maturity.

Becoming Human, 2014, pp. 63-64

*     *     *

B.T.W., Becoming Human reshuffles (I mean this in a good way) a number of prominent passages from his earlier books — just look at the quotes featured by GoodReads where I have linked the book titles above. Well,  he himself indicates this in the preface.

B.T.W. one more time: GoodReads generates a number of books titled Becoming Human, or having the phrase in their titles — from the evolutionary-scientific outlook to social justice-oriented texts, to inspirational-spiritual ones: http://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=becoming+human

Perhaps we have not yet given up on ourselves, after all?

oh, and in an academic institution, too 🙂

… and here, a natural leaf aging in increments:

… and this, a form of two-way puppy love, you might say?

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