The Youth SAND (Science and Non-Duality) Conference -2020

I just finished up a gorgeous presentation for the Youth Science and Non-Duality conference with two of my favorite human beings in the world – Orlando Villaraga, and Dr. Dan Siegel. The topic of the conversation was “Beauty and Opportunity” – framing what those terms and concepts mean to us as we navigate the spiraling and intertwining pandemics of COVID-19, racial injustice, environmental degradation, capitalism, and the lie of the separate self.

First of all, it was so amazing to be a part of an intergenerational gathering of young and old people from all over the world, coming together to listen and share heart-centered knowledge with the intention of rising to a more powerful, integrated sense of self and the world. I give so many kudos and props to the organizers of the event, because in a very real way, they are modeling a form of education that goes so far beyond the rote memorization and rigid socialization which continues to contribute to the pathology of hatred and division in this world.

Secondly, it was such a fantastic treat to be able to frame the beauty that is so inherent to this world as all of our birthright, and to discuss how we might reclaim our sense of beauty as a healing antidote to so much of the violence which plagues us – therein the opportunity lies for us to sink more deeply into the beauty which lies within the pain of this moment in time. Would we be able to harm one another in the ways we have become so accustomed to if beauty were truly alive for us? Would violence exist in its current form if – emotional, spiritual, physical, structural – if we moved from a true integration of the meaning of the beauty of being alive? Would we be constructing artificial borders which decree who gets the privilege of shelter and protection if we saw the beauty in this land, this Earth belonging to us all? This intentional turning towards beauty truly is an opportunity in and of itself – if we develop the sensitivity required to see the beauty in those who we view as being so fundamentally “other” than ourselves, then we will be able to meet with the suffering which is so intrinsic to existing in a body, and be in relationship with it in a way that offers up a tenderness and vulnerability which seeds a generative field of healing for us all.

Indeed, as Dan brought to all of our attention, there is a rampant addiction to othering and the creation of in-group/out-group classifications that allow us to dehumanize the “other” and enact patterns of enslavement upon their bodies, to justify supporting the proliferation of a capitalist mind set which places value on certain bodies, and less or no value upon others in a perpetual hierarchy, seems to be largely due to our fixation with phenotypical differences (the ways in which our physical features arise from our genetics) which is the most obvious way to lean into “difference” in a way which demonizes, rather than celebrates and uplifts. Either this, or we villify those who love or worship differently than we do, in all in the name of identifying who we need to keep ourselves “safe” from.

This is a call for all of us to lean into the wisdom of the body – for we have been cognizing about the solutions to this collective un-doing we are in for far too long, without enough progress to get us out of this existential downward spiral of a destructive mire we find ourselves in. That much is clear. But in order to do this turning towards beauty and embodied social justice, we have to learn what it means to truly create safe spaces where people can experience the authenticity of themselves in their similarities, and be held in that, while we develop the tools which will allow us to then create spaces where the exploration of difference is key – which will involve a great deal of discomfort. But the being with this discomfort, lovingly, and the opening of our capacity to know this discomfort as the horizon upon which healing and integration can unfold, I believe, is a huge part of the path to move back to a place of recognizing ourselves as a part of one big Earthly family as we have never been able to before.

It is my sincere hope that the energy that was seeded at this event, and events like these, is the mark of the unfolding of a loving revolution with beauty at its heart, where we can begin to understand our capacity for healing the addiction to our over-identification with suffering in an entirely new way. 2020 just may be the beginning of creating a new narrative for human society. One which encompasses entirely novel ways of seeing our wounds as our gifts – which inspires new ways of interacting with our grief over the magnitude of what we have lost, such that the tenderness in our hearts towards our human fallibility engenders a shift towards compassionate relationship with everything and everyone in our environment.

1 reply
  1. Zara
    Zara says:

    This is such a powerful set of reflections + invitations to work through collective trauma from a place of embodiment. It was amazing to be in the room and to take in this trio of thinkers first-hand. Thank you for your talk. I described it to a fellow-participant in the breakout room as ‘mind-blowing.’ Ka-bloom! I am inspired by the way you, Dan, and Orlando are weaving together these strands into robust tapestries of thought. Integration is everything. K-12 is such an exciting starting point, too. Can’t wait to see this unfolding in the next year. Zara

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