angel Kyodo williams

Archive for the ‘relationship’ Category

when the people rise

In culture, identity, politics, relationship on March 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm

why self-determination will always overcome fear
INcite with angel Kyodo williams


Tunisia. Egypt. Yemen. Bahrain. Libya.

The last few months have borne witness to a powder keg of successive uprisings by Arab Peoples throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The desperate act of a Tunisian vendor—setting himself on fire in protest of his cart—and means of livelihood—being taken away—was a stand for self-determination that has been amplified by Arab People reclaiming their dignity one county at a time.

If nature abhors a vacuum, then indeed, it resists none more persistently than a vacuum of natural selfhood. When the breaking point of lack of fulfillment meets with the illuminating function of self-awareness, human beings, like nature, seek to restore balance.

When this happens collectively, We Are All Khaled Said…

…and the People rise.

This (r)evolutionary imperative to see manifest condition in which one can thrive is more ancient, more deeply rooted, and thus more powerful, than the inclination to oppress others for one’s own warped sense of self-gain.

In a global, media-drenched world, awareness of self is expedited by the sheer number of other self-expressions to compare one’s own expression (or lack thereof) to. Thus the cycle of being lulled to sleep by paternalistic promises–only to be rudely awakened by a nightmarish loss of freedom–is quickened. We come to terms more rapidly with the reality that as soothing as it may first appear when we are young and naive, we do not want to have everything taken care of by the Great Hero Father. Hence our empires rise and fall more swiftly than ever. Dictators, monarchs, aristocracies and elite parties beware: you are remnants of the past even before you take your corrupted seats these days. When your fabricated means of distraction falls away, the People will rise.

Beyond survival and security, self-determination is the underpinning of justice. When corrupt leaders falter on the first two, the last is the restorative penance that must be paid. Beyond simple survival, being able to determine our own path is the hallmark of self-expression, self-fulfillment, and most importantly, self-love.

In insisting upon the removal of decades-long dictators, the People reclaim their fundamental, inalienable right and responsibility to determine their own path. A right they have come to recognize has been obscured and hampered by individual men projecting an image of themselves as the sole reflection of an entire People:

  • what they will and will not have access to
  • how they are to be governed
  • what they can and cannot become

It would appear to the untrained eye that these Arab Peoples were ruled by different men, but to the eye of the astute, each dictator was a differently dated carbon copy of the other, and all of them mere proxies for fear.

But the People eventually stay the Iron Fist, lift the veil and see the cowering figure clinging to power is neither God nor Hero, just a small, desperate man. Emboldened by their commitment, empowered by their collectivity, liberated from the shackles of fear, the People rise to find liberation from the shackles of oppression.

Questions abound as to how the all-knowing US didn’t see such a wave of revolutions forthcoming: America’s deep-seated racism and perceived religious-cultural superiority conspire to make the quiet swelling of a sea of brown and black People calling for their freedom with fearlessness, grace and unwavering determination a political improbability. To see them do it in succession, leaving the realm of mere anomaly? Impossible.

Having paid so much to keep them divided, we simply lack the imagination to conceive of Arab Peoples bonding together in solidarity to restore the dignity and rightful place of their own. How else could we justify funding the suppression of their beautiful brown selves for so long? How else could we be so confused as to whether we should continue to underwrite Mass Muslim Control rather than proclaim the side of the People the only righteous side to be on?

Even as we witnessed it with our own eyes, we clung to our reductionist, divisive values: it was the youth, it was the educated, it was the middle class, it was the non-religious. No matter that many of the largest protests formed after Friday prayers. Even more un-humanizing, it was Facebook or Twitter. Make no mistake: no matter the vehicle or tool, it was the People.

The brown, red, black and yellow People of this country can learn volumes from the hopefulness and vision expressed by our Arab brothers and sisters. If invested in transformation of society beyond the policy win, past the campaign, despite the funders, our own organizers can benefit from the study of revolutionary change—rooted in the mass power of collective love for the People that unifies, coupled with the individual compulsion for self-determination—that will always eventually transcend fear.

When that happens, we the People, too, shall finally rise.

—yours in truth, aKw


dedicated to the power of the People. may they rise again and again.


angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and Founder Emeritus of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

Fan angel on Facebook
Follow angel on Twitter
Find angel on the Web
angel in the blogosphere

red, white and black

In culture, politics, relationship on February 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm
red white black

Hail from Above. Nile River, Luxor, Eqypt.

standing with the people


As the world watches—despite the Egyptian government’s best efforts to darken the light of revolution—the People of Egypt increasingly come forward to express their will for change and they will not be deterred. Just over a year ago, I had the great fortune to be in Egypt. Making my way through Cairo, up the Sinai and deep into Luxor, I left holding vivid impressions of who these crowds are made up of, who they gather for and who they risk on behalf of: the People. As movements of people calling forth transformative social change, we are further empowered when we recognize our relationship, deep connection and interdependence with the movements towards justice in the world. I hope these snapshots of with whom it is we stand in solidarity empowers each of you:

I stand with Egypt.
I too, stood in defiance of President Hosni Mubarak’s police in downtown Cairo’s Midan Tahrir, or Liberation Square. Coming from all over the world, we gathered there to link Freedom for the people of Gaza with the Liberation of the people of Egypt. Even then, Mubarak sought to keep the attention we were bringing to the plight of the People from coming to light. We were just a few hundred, but it was clear he knew even then that if the People saw us, they would stir. Now, a million—and counting—stand too.

I stand with the low-ranking and even lower-paid soldiers that are shuffled around and posted as human barricades to contain the peoples’ movements but can’t contain their support for the hopeful defiance of ordinary men and women, young and old, that may finally usher in real change.

As long as Egypt is willing to be home of the well-behaved Arabs, America has been willing to deeply fund a dictator to keep up a pretense of peace while Egyptians paid the price of their dignity. Like the Red people of America, their self-determination is systematically denied while US-made and paid for weapons are used to dissuade them from their conviction.

I stand with the other Hosny, the travel guide who rents horses and poses us in pictures with camels while solving the mystery of the Great Pyramids of Giza with an easy plausibility that confirms westerners are the only ones still questioning what the people have always known.

While we watch the legions pouring into the streets from the comfort of our living rooms or the palms of our hands, the People risk the stability that was for three decades secured at the cost of liberty. They trade complacency and comfort for an unknown future, but are determined to define that path on their own terms.

I stand with the soft-eyed captain of the Jolie, the fifth generation of his family to guide feluccas up and down the lush banks of Luxor’s Nile. He has the help of a young boy that has lost his father but would receive neither service nor support in an Egypt that leaves the poorest to fend for themselves.

Egypt’s revolution is of and by not just some of the people, but the many. There is no fringe to dismiss. Lines of class have blurred into oblivion. The haves are coming forward for the have-nots. Like the White people of our own nation that have stood in solidarity with folks red, black, brown and yellow, refusing to be divided from their values to protect their places, this revolution sees the interdependence of all. They stand in protection of their collective heritage, denying would-be thieves the opportunity to steal their treasures and steal their triumph.

I stand with the head of security at the mighty Valley of Kings. Charged to protect the final resting place of dynasties that rose and fell for thousands of years before an America was considered, he cannot comfortably care for his family. His harmless scams occasionally lighten the pockets of gullible tourists, but when it becomes clear that we are neither easy prey nor think ourselves better than he, his feigned sternness gives way to easy laughter and easier talk of his love for his land, history and people. He insists on treating us to a tour of the grandest tomb of all.

For far too long, the rest of the world has passively looked aside while the People have lived with their requests unanswered, their demands ignored and their dreams deferred, as a leader that promised democracy delivers corruption and stomps out dissent instead.

I stand with Mohammed, the Bedouin with the striking resemblance to the boy-King Tut, now selling papyrus in Talaat Harb Square. His beautiful heavy eyes a window to his heavy heart because his place in society is limited by his birth. Like our Black people, Bedouins are economically deprived and their government metes out uneven punishment against them, institutionalizing a caste system rooted in prejudice. With good luck and by good hearts, this practice will not survive.

Waving their flags of red, white and black with defiance and dignity, destiny is on the side of revolution and the government must finally yield to the eternal law of change. What I see in Egypt is all the people of the world that seek out justice when it is too long denied, insist upon equality when it too long unbalanced, and take back freedom when it is too long withheld. It is time to take our place on the right side of Egypt: the side of the people.

I stand with Egypt because Egypt is me.

your in truth,aKw

dedicated to Ahl Masr, the people of Egypt, home of the soul of Ptah. May your freedom come swiftly that we might learn, insh’allah, that your freedom is our very own. ‐aKw


copyright MMXI. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and Founder Emeritus of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

Faceboook: Fan angel on Facebook
Twitter: Follow angel on Twitter
Web: Find angel on the Web
Blog: angel in the blogosphere
Blog: Train with angel

state of union

In leadership, politics, relationship on January 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Jambo-Welcome!

resolution for revolution


Each January, whether formal or informal, uttered or silent, many of us resolve to do something different for the coming new year. We commit to starting some things and finishing others. We put plans into motion, we reassess, reevaluate and take stock of the life that we have and where we want it to be.

In two weeks, as President of the United States, Barack Obama will issue the State of the Union, as is constitutionally required “from time to time,” reporting on the condition of the country and setting forth his legislative agenda — resolutions for the nation — for 2011. Likewise, as a Movement of Peoples United in striving for a just and equitable world, we should require of ourselves a reflection upon the state of our union as we reconsider and reset our course for change in this new year.

To do this, we could overwhelm ourselves with a long list of far-reaching goals that get left to collect dust on our collective to-do lists while we wait for the perfect conditions that never seem to arrive: a perfect President, a balanced Court, a less sinister Senate, a reasonable Congress. But instead of pondering what we don’t have, I propose one single resolution that we can take on right now: A resolution for revolution. I propose that we put our efforts into forming a new state. A state of union. I propose that we become a single movement of movements. I propose that we become one.

One with what? Union with whom? Not just a new age platitude, being in union means seeing beyond the crippling illusion of separation and acting from the abiding awareness of our fundamental, indisputable interconnectedness. Separation breeds fear and perpetuates its own myth until we believe To be effective, our movements must be coherent. To be sustainable, our organizations must be aligned. To be whole, as individuals we must act from oneness.

Union within our Movements:
Let’s see where we can bridge the divides and emerge from the silos that even with our best intentions isolate the issues that we care about and create false illusions of disconnect: that somehow the oxygen created in rapidly disappearing old growth forests is not related to the oxygen disappearing in the lungs of black and brown children in inner-city jungles. Work for the environment IS work for justice but when it’s disconnected from the truth of our equal worth and inherent rights, pro-Green becomes anti-Black, Red, Brown, Indigenous and Impacted.

Union with Each Other:
As organizations trying to put asunder the corporate takeover of democracy that has recast citizens as mere consumers and cultures as mere commodities, most of our work exists in a hand-me-down paradigm designed by those same corporations. We imbibed their values when we drank the corporate Kool-aid. We’ve bought into the perpetual need to consume resources as the Holy Grail for all our woes. Now funding our fights beg us to jump through one foundation circus hoop after another and puts us squarely in competition with the very same folks we should be organizing, collaborating and conspiring with. We forget that the money we now scratch, bite and sell our integral souls for is mostly sourced from systems of oppression. Why be divided in reclaiming what was made on our collective backs? The American Economy is the Mother of all Ponzi schemes—putting Bernie Madoff to shame—and until we see the means and the ends as one, we fuel the hyper-capitalist engine of the systems that steamroll our imaginations. We are left bearing the false belief that we must depend on the path that suffocates us as the only route to freedom when really the only liberation worth attaining is that of the self: self-liberated, self-funded, self-actualized.

Union with Ourselves:
It’s no secret that if we want to get to the first two, we have to get with The One. The single individual that if we are out of relationship with, we have no hope for relationship with the rest of people, place and planet: we must find relationship with and within our selves. The good, bad, ugly and even hideous parts that we far too often cast aside. Because every day we head out to fight the good fight, we bring along the unaddressed and disconnected wounded parts of ourselves to the battle. If we don’t heal our wounds, they’ll consume our hearts, sap our strength and cripple our courage. And we all lose the war.

So how do we fulfill this resolution and make good on the necessary promise to get to know, show up for and love ourselves? To be in Union with who we are as we are? No magic pills here. It’s as simple as Practice: We set a date for meeting ourselves each and every day, 365, and we show up for it.

To usher forth a transformative movement, we resolve to work on ourselves & our organizations toward becoming the reflection of what we wish our world to become. We gift our movements, our work, our communities and our own lives with the single most significant effort we can make on behalf of all that we love and care for: we become leaders that transform hearts, minds and societies by becoming leaders—and lovers—of our very own selves.

—yours in truth, aKw

postscript: On Virtual Practice
Don’t have a favorite local practice dive? Don’t get isolated, get online. Here are three of my current favorite virtual practice opportunities, a few extras I ran across thrown in for good measure.

Daily
28 Days of Practice: Gibran Rivera of IISC and a cohort of buddies got together to support each other in committing to a daily meditation practice (centering prayer, silence, contemplation, stillness, quiet reflection…take your pick). Noting that consistency is far more important than quantity, 5 minutes per day is the bar along with taking 10 seconds to record your daily progress. Social witnessing helps keep us on track, and helps get us back on the horse when we fall off (which we will).

Yoga Today 365: Not feeling freezing your yogi toes off to trudge through cold snow for Hot Yoga? Not free, but for 25cents a day you get unlimited access to a hefty library of yoga classes on streaming video. If you’re working your way up to commitment, $3.99 gets you a “drop-in” virtual class of your choice. (Note: While an interesting resource, YT365 isn’t exactly oozing with social justice awareness. Not a brown/colored person easily found. Searching for online yoga that’s also justice-savvy? I’ll leave finding that balance to you.)

Weekly
MTX: Mind Training & Transformation: Yours truly has been chewing on this idea for five years now. Inspired by the profound Jewish tradition of Torah reading, each week MTX takes a look at one of 59 pithy non-religious “slogans,” or trainings that, with practice (and some commentary to help) are designed to transform—and unify—the mind.

Yoga Today Free Weekly Class: Mentioned above, this virtual yoga library offers a free video class each week to whet your appetite, so grab your mat, props, blanket and the front row in front of your laptop to get your body union on. (And don’t forget your eye pillow. Far from accomplishing acrobatic feats, it’s the integration at the end that gets you cool points. Don’t just do something…lie there.)

Seasonal
27 Days of Change: Winter, spring and fall, Center for Transformative Change hosts a seasonal “practice period” to help you get your alignment together. You make a formal agreement with yourself in areas such as improving relationship, taking care of the planet, giving more where and when you can. 6 intentions. 27 days. 360 degrees. (What about summer, you ask? CXC hosts an annual Inner Justice Intensive around June/July. While not for the faint of heart, if you want to “sit it down to kick it up a notch,” this may just be your mid-year game.)

BONUS:
While not virtual, if you are looking to become a resource for practice, these could be right for you: fearlessMEDITATION Instructor Training. Teaching about meditation from a social justice lens gives people permission to do the inner work that’s needed to sustain the outer work that’s called for. fMIT does just that. And if “yoga built built for justice” sounds like your fancy, the fearlessYOGA Teacher Training shares the unique legacy of being practice designed from the ground up for agents of social change. After a first year pilot, 2011 will see fYTT trainings on the east and west coasts. The time to sign up is now.

If your organization wants to become a resource, get info to get your people trained to hold practice space as a Social Justice Sitting Circle, coming to your neighborhood soon.

your in truth,aKw


copyright MMXI. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and Founder Emeritus of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

Faceboook: Fan angel on Facebook
Twitter: Follow angel on Twitter
Web: Find angel on the Web
Blog: angel in the blogosphere
Blog: Train with angel

real and not real: on border and divisions

In culture, politics, relationship on May 15, 2010 at 7:37 pm

i have to make a confession…

i’ve been holding up the publication of this month’s journal version of transform. for almost two weeks now. and it’s because i’ve had a block.

not an ordinary writers’ block—which, while annoying, unproductive and sometimes even painful, is generally unwanted—as that would be preferable to the block i’ve been having.

i’ve been having a heart-mind block.

i have found the thinking, choices, behavior and resulting consequences of our people so incomprehensible at a heart level, that my mind has refused to put words to a phenomena that seems beyond them.

when i say our people, i mean OUR people. all of them. the ones that every single human that ever lays eyes on this—from now until the end of time—have a relationship to:

– the people in the Tea Party
– the people never invited to the Party
– the people in Arizona (made up of lines)
– the people of Arizona (made up of lineage)
– the people (and wildlife) within the Gulf Coast
– the people (and profiteers) far away from the Gulf Coast
– the people in the White House
– the people thrown out of their house
– the people of God
– the people that own God
– the people in Israel (that won’t let up)
– the people in Gaza (that can’t get out)

with each upside-down turn of events, my heart has broken further and has threatened to take my mind with it because my mind wants to make sense of something that my heart knows full well it cannot.

and should not.

what i can do instead is try to sort out what is real and what is not. that’s an illusion of sorts too, i know, but this is what i came up with:

Nine Things Real and Not Real

  1. we, the People, are divided by fear, lack of vision and imagination is real.
  2. the so-called border that divides this land from the people we took it from by force is not real
  3. the horrific show of how deep this country’s racism runs, masking itself as it’s very own Party of hatred, is real.
  4. the idea that a President of any race, color, gender or creed can rise above and act beyond a corrupted system that put them there to begin with is not real.
  5. the toxic waste hemorrhaging onto the land from 5000 feel under the sea—laying waste to the life in its path—is real.
  6. the will to stop feeding off of “ancient hours of sunlight” and converting fossils into a fuel that drives death and destruction worldwide is not real.
  7. the cordoning off of nearly 1.5 million people like so much cattle that amounts to a New Millenium Apartheid is real.
  8. the resolve of America and the world to stop financing state-sanctioned war crimes and now international law breaches is not real.
  9. the deep divisions of our society, people and planet, based on the peculiar illusory constructs of race, class, privilege, supremacy and superiority is real. and for this, we will all pay.

genocide is real.
greed is real.
destruction is real.

“illegals” aren’t real.
Mexicans aren’t real.
Americans aren’t real.
Muslims aren’t real.
Jews aren’t real.
fairness is real.
justice is real.
love is real.

People are real.
—yours in truth, aKw


dedicated to all the people that show up for real.



© MMX. angel Kyodo williams
changeangel: all things change.(sm)

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and founder of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on “all things change.”
permission granted to retweet, repost, repaste &
repeat with copyright and contact info intact.

Fan angel on Facebook
Follow angel on Twitter
Find angel on the Web
angel in the blogosphere

radical relationship

In culture, relationship, spirit on February 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm

relationship

three pillars for transforming together

Whether you consider it a commercial fabrication designed to use our tender hearts to draw money from our tender wallets or a genuine 1500-year old tradition of expressing courtly love, Valentine’s Day gets us to thinking about Relationship.

Its no wonder we have an increasingly commitment-phobic culture given that relationship has been associated with martyrdom for millennia. But once we move past the anxiety of proving our love by way of flowers, greeting cards or a trip to the local Zales (Tiffany’s if you’ve got it like that) we can actually make use of this time to hone in on how we’re showing up in relationship to our selves, the people in our lives and the planet.

One of the more edgy aspects of the Center for Transformative Change’s history is its underlying structure. It has been a residentially-based community of people that live, work and practice together for nearly three years.

This experiment in relationship was designed to force us to bring all of the main aspects of life into one place. Each of us would be witness to each other. Each of us would be witness to each other. We could no longer show up as heroes at work while neglecting our personal business without being seen. We had to stop hiding behind being “perfect” practitioners that had all the answers while being unreliable colleagues that couldn’t be counted on to complete projects. In the course of this experiment, we discovered that integrity and embodiment had to become the hallmarks (pun intended) of our commitment to justice and sustainability. If we can’t achieve balance in our own lives and organizations, how can we expect to bring it social, national and planetary scale?

It’s given us great insight as an organization into what being in relationship really calls for day in and day out. Recently, changes in our community challenged us even further to become explicit about the what, how and why of being good relationship. All good relationships are based in mutually-empowered, mutually-respected and mutually-held agreements. What we didn’t recognize was that in a culture that has over-privileged and over-valued individuality above all else, we needed to establish such shared agreements as the foundation for being in community in the first place.

Rather than a long tome dictating the rules of engagement for every possible interaction, we needed a set of principles that could be held within the palms of our hands (brief) and carried in the depths of our hearts (memorable). While we don’t expect everyone will start living in practice-based, eco-friendly, soon-to-be-solar-powered social justice communes tomorrow, it has been a monumental learning, the principles of which can become the foundation for living models of personal transformation within community everywhere.

3 Pillars of Radical Relationship

  1. Radical Responsibility – Cultivate appreciation and come to terms with the reality that your life is yours and yours alone. Each of your choices, actions, consequences, outcomes, experiences and feedback are yours to deal with, be in relationship with and take responsibility for. There’s no more time for the blame game and we all need to to get off the pity line. In community and organizations, this means both responsibility for one self and to others. This doesn’t mean you won’t acknowledge and address very real impacts of people, events and conditions on your life, it simply means that you meet those impacts as WHAT IS. This is Radical Responsibility.
  2. “It’s not my fault, but it is my responsibility. Whatever comes, I will meet it as it is, then either initiate a plan to change it…or shut up about it until I’m willing to do so.”

  3. Radical Accountability – Cultivate fierce determination to shift from allowing habit-patterns to drive your basic experience. Key to transforming your life is taking up the full space created by embracing Choice as a lifestyle. Gone are the days of “it just happened,” “i’m just that way,” “I didn’t have a choice.” There is always choice. And yes, there are consequences, too. We can decide, validly and reasonably, that we do not wish to bear the consequences of a particular choice, but we must recognize, and be accountable, for the choices we make. All of them. Every single one without fail. In groups, community and organizations, this means both being accountable and expecting to be held accountable. When we feel stuck, we often cannot see the choices available to us. If you commit to a practice, greater and greater choice becomes apparent. In the meantime, you can choose Radical Accountability.
  4. “May I exercise the precious gift of choice and the power to change that makes me uniquely human.” Whether conscious or unconscious, the impacts of my choices are mine to see through to resolution. —quote from Warrior-Spirit Prayer of New Dharma Community (full version below)<

  5. Radical Purpose – Cultivate an unwavering commitment to help others transform their lives, too. Whatever intention we have for transforming our lives—all actions really—if not ultimately rooted in a genuine desire to see the live of others positively transformed, will be self-serving and have as its result a building up of the kind of ego-centric worldview that is not only false, it is clearly unsustainable for our communities, countries and planet. The goal for our personal transformation—the end game of “towards what end”—must be in service of our interconnectedness, our collective wholeness, and an integrity of the structures that hold it all together. Our pursuit of justice, if truly transformative, must affirm life and insist of security, sustainability and self-determination for all. Both the how and the why, being in Radical Relationship means your liberation is bound up in mine and there is no justice without justice for all. Red, Blue, Black, White, North, South, Left, Right, our movements for deep change, for justice will best serve us aligned in Radical Purpose.
  6. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “…your liberation is bound up with mine…” —Lila Watson

    “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” —Emma Lazarus

For justice to be embodied rather than contrived, we have to walk our talk, so I like to think of these principles as the Radical RAP. While we seem to mistakenly assign “radical” to anything that is off the charts or “way out there” as an idea, radical refers to the root. In choosing Radical Relationship as the perspective that leads every action we take internal and external, real change arises from, gets at and returns us to ours roots: the fundamental Truth of our interconnectedness and unassailable Love that sources us all.

“…without collective freedom, none of it matters.” —yours truly, aKw

with inspirational gratitude to Kimberly, Simha & Lorna, and deep, abiding praise for El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. may his radical journey to love beyond limitation continue to inspire and permeate my every action.”
This essay riffs and expands on MTX1 part b of the Mind Training & Xformation series, a yearlong training delivering pith instructions for transformation each week.
Find it here: “First, do the Groundwork” http://bit.ly/change-MTX1b

copyright MMX. angel Kyodo williams
changeangel: all things change.(sm)

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and founder of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost, repaste &
repeat with copyright and contact info intact.

Fan angel on Facebook
Follow angel on Twitter
Find angel on the Web
angel in the blogosphere

being your best

In culture, identity, leadership, money, politics, relationship, spirit on December 8, 2009 at 11:28 am

Enthroned Virgin and Child. Haghia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey. photo © 2009 angel Kyodo williams

child of hope

the theory, art and practice of change

Every one of us holds some hope for a future America, indeed a future world, that is changed. Changed to what is not always as tangible as our minds would like it to be. Perhaps that’s why Martin said “I have a dream…” In the best of expressions, Jesus Christ, depicted above with the Virgin Mary as a tiled mosiac in the Haghia Sophia, represents Hope. His birth brought Hope to a world that had gone awry, thus the title of the image “Child of Hope.” As agents & allies of social change, we, too, represent Hope for a world that has gone a little astray from the path of expressing the best humanity has to offer: love, compassion, fairness, security, sustainability and self-determination for all living things. We have our work cut out for us. But with a grounded theory, a willingness to learn the art and a committment to practice, practice, practice, we can and we will be our best and through our example, through our leadership, we’ll inspire the best in everyone.

In keeping with a year-end “Best of…” theme, (while doing as little as possible as I head out in the world on the first leg of my sabbatical) I offer these snippets from not one, but all of the past year’s INcite essays. Take them individually or as one big riff on this profound movement towards Transformative Social Change. May any one of these ideas, instructions or inquiries inspire you towards being your best, today and in the year to come.

January | finally American
On the one hand, 2009 brings with it the incredible challenges of the freefall of an economic house of cards built with smoke, mirrors and lots of dishonest spit, an unjust war built on outright lies, and a devastating attack on a people that the world can no longer deny is on the short end of a harsh stick, built on a 60 year theft. On the other hand, we are embarking upon a new year, a new era, and a strange, new hopefulness that real people, tired of being polarized by fear, hate and separation can organize for hope, progress and change. And together, our collective will can make a difference.

February | being all we can be
President Obama has gone on record saying that he opposes gay marriage, but admits this may be a wrong-headed view drawn from his own religious beliefs. I’m suspicious of the idea that God whispers in anyone’s ear and says “you are chosen to have something that other’s aren’t entitled to:” be that right to love or right to land. But since I’ve only been trying to listen to God rather than talk, maybe She doesn’t whisper back to me. So, I’m not one to question Obama’s or anyone else’s personal relationship with God…why don’t we stop questioning anyone’s personal, mutually respectful, consenting relationship with anyone else?

March | can you see me now?
Being in real relationship with “the other” closes the bias gap…But to even get there, we have to look at ourselves first. We have to stop letting ourselves off the race hook and commit to actively resisting the biased waters we swim in by raising our unconscious, implicit fears to the level of conscious, explicitly articulated ones. That’s painful, exhausting, heart-breaking work, but it’s the real work that needs to be done. No less important than your next action, petition, campaign or board meeting. (Those explicit biases could use a good eyeballing here, too.) Plainly speaking, if you’re doing work for change in what’s “affectionately” referred to as AmeriKKKa without a practice of examining race, you’re pretty much adding to the problem.

April | seven deadly sins of change
The Watchmen for Change are made up of Freedom Fighters, Organizers, Agitators and Activists paired with the folks that, like it or not, foot the bills. In a perfected partnership, they are our Supporters, Advocates, Advisors and Allies. Some of us pay with the currency of creativity, vitality, energy and soulforce. Others pay with hopefulness, steadfastness, wild cheering and dollar bills, y’all…Together we are the Jedis of Justice. We are The Ones that We have Been Waiting for to illuminate the Matrix and reveal the passage out of Babylon. We are the Agents of Transformative Social Change.

May | this is our time
A Black Organizer is in the White House. (Wise Latina) Justice is getting off the bench and in the Game. It’s our time. The era of the lowly grunt that toils for justice being the under-appreciated, underpaid underdog is officially overrated. We are now the wunderkinds that can capture the imagination of our nation with our unwavering commitment to Hope, resounding call for Freedom and heart-stopping effort to reveal Truth, Justice and a truly New American Way.

June | a more perfect union
But as powerful as symbols, phrases and slogans are, they only derive their energy from the wellspring of the people they represent. People that don’t just stand in the truth, but express it through the way they live. And just as “words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights” the more perfect union we seek for this country will not arise from a speech, a bailout, or even a healthcare plan…What it will arise from is the embodiment of that more perfect union by folks that know and act on what’s right…

July | the greatest transformation
(And) when Death comes to Friend you, as it will, you can’t ignore it. Where will your vast but virtual network be then? Will they be there to sing songs, share stories and send your ashes back to ashes, and dust back to dust? Will they memorialize you? Yes, connections can be made quick, Friends, Followers and Fans, but relationships are still slow…and the best ones are grown over time.

August | the practice of inconvenience
This is, more often than not, the nature of deep practice: It isn’t convenient. It doesn’t fit your schedule. It doesn’t conform to your whim. It isn’t selectable for good days instead of bad. In short, it isn’t a hobby…it’s a practice. If not as dramatic, remaining committed to established personal and organizational practice–especially in the face of challenge–is a stance no less determined than that of Gandhi’s Salt Marchers, or those folks that continued to cross the bridge in Selma. We put our butts on the line and on the cushion to usher forth a new way of Being Change.

September | beyond the boycott
(It’s) a time for action: sometimes, no matter how many ways you try to describe a thing, you have to experience it to know what it really is. i’ve been talking about transformative change: what it is and isn’t. what it could look like and what it can make possible in the world…But it’s also time for those of us pushing for change to do so in a way that actually seeks resolution, transforming the issue into an opportunity for real change: change that matters. Thus, any action taken should be thoughtful, respectful, measured and leveraged only if it is needed…

October | doing darkness
Unlike change, which can be undone with a shift in context or the swipe of a presidential pen, there’s no going back on transformation. The depth of change that takes place is so deep, rooted and resounding, that the former way of being is no longer possible. While transformation can’t be undone…the decisive question we must ask is “Transformation towards what?” If we want positive transformative outcomes, we must intentionalize and work toward them. Deep change requires deep practice. Simply put, we have to stay with it in order to see transformation through. Through and through, we must weave the fabric of our movement culture with ways of being, knowing and doing that embody precisely how we want to see society transformed: into an equitable, sustainable and just place for all. How we are showing up right now is the state of our transformation. However, if you can imagine the exact outcome, it’s more likely to be change than transformation because our vision is necessarily limited by our current perspective and conditions.

November | meeting change
Transitions are the doorways to change. Choosing to engage transition and enter each doorway as consciously as possible, but with a willingness to not know what’s on the other end, is what makes that change intentional. Life IS change. And if you’ve been around for five good minutes, you know that Change Happens. So your only real choice is to either let life happen to you or for you to choose to live it. One way to do that is to become practiced at happily, humbly and heartily Meeting Change.

Happy holidays. Free Palestine. Love, peace and blessings to and for all.

copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and founder of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

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meeting change

In leadership, relationship, spirit on November 19, 2009 at 8:40 am

going in

the art & practice of transition


As an east coast native, the traditional four seasons of the year have become deeply embedded in my psyche and soul as a map and a means for organizing my life. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, repeat. Seasons are like phases in the cycle of Life. Going from one to the next represents Transition: the in-between space of moving from one way of being in relationship to life into another.

Taken together, the turning of the four seasons into a year reflects our collective relationship to and dependence upon nature and all her rhythms, according our journey with the sun and the entire vast universe.

I have come to appreciate this internal alignment with the cyclical rhythms of the Earth, herself as a powerful counterbalance to the false constructs of busyness and get-it-doneness made by Men. Capitalism and consumerism have erected false notions of the rhythms we should adhere to. We are corralled from one hopping holiday or sale season to the next.

While many people use birthdays as their marker for a new year, I’ve always used the early Fall. Fall is both a beginning and ending for me. A time for simultaneously harvesting the learnings of the Spring and Summer before it, while fervently preparing for the rest and gestation of the Winter to come. Once upon a time, I resisted this rhythmic pattern, noticing with chagrin that come Fall, I would invariably take things apart, reorganize them and put them back together again. Sometimes in my reconfigurations, things would get thrown away. Sometimes everything would go.

The people in my life can’t always quite make sense of this internally-driven process from the outside and through the years have mistakenly viewed it as my being restless, inconsistent, breaking down or working through some kind of crisis.

The reality is I’m not any of those things and I am all of them: I’m just Meeting Change.

So while I make a reasonable effort to accord with or renegotiate external commitments and the demands of relational life, there are times when, like the seasons, I must honor this internal rhythm whether it makes sense to or works for others or not. Once you can hear it, to not honor the resonant call for meeting change, is to not honor life itself.

Change Whose Time Has Come

Sometime in August, in the midst of preparing for our biggest event of the year, a clear knowing about what our work needed in order to move to the next level came to me. Holding some sweet sadness for what I knew had to happen, I invited the community I’d been living with in some form or other for the past five years—to leave. I wasn’t kicking people out nor had I made a decision that I didn’t want to live within a community of transformative practice any longer. What I had come to realize was, that as a living experiment—a petri dish for learning how best to support people working for justice in their own deep inner life change—our time had come to an end.

So on 9/9/09, a date representing “completion,” we gathered to bring to completion our time together in that form. As requested, each person planned a transition from this phase or season of life to the next. I had only one request for their plan: that the step they take would be one that would bring them closer to their own life purpose. That they waste no time in a limbo space, but regard their lifeforce as precious enough to not waste a single moment ambling near their path, choosing instead to step out fully onto it in whatever form that might take. They were also asked to state what they would need, if anything, to support this significant endeavor.

Organizationally speaking, this transition was invited at a time when we are, like many non-profits, picking ourselves up out of the dust and debris of the past year’s economic crisis, which is obviously far from over. Many would argue the move as less than, well…sane. But I’d argue that one of the most subtle Arts of Change is recognizing when it’s time to transition, to step forward into the awkwardness of the unknown and to meet change head on. To have continued on with folks that I had a felt sense belonged somewhere else would have been to opt for convenience over integrity, thus dishonoring this work—as Khalil Gibran named: my love made visible in the world—at its core. We each know intuitively that Love sometimes calls for a valiant honor that may set our preferences and conveniences aside. In work towards real, abiding justice and change that will last, our work, and how we hold it, must be the same.

As a result of meeting change on that day and bringing forth intention from as long as 10 years ago::

On October 31, half of the residential community—also meaning half of our staff—transitioned out. Gracefully, and sometimes not so, each person stepping firmly on the path of fulfilling their purpose in life.

On November 1, we transitioned in a new ED, thereby releasing me from the confines of organizational structures while enabling all of what I’ve been able to contribute thus far to live on until it is no longer useful.

On December 1 I will officially begin my first sabbatical after having logged 25 years of work, 20 of them with an eye towards social change.

In January, a new phase in the life of what has become the Center for Transformative Change will begin with the wind of legacy at its back and the raw power of new energy carrying it forward.

In June, CXC will collaboratively launch what we believe will be one of the most powerful toolkits to help shift the culture of social justice towards one of Transformative Social Change.

To hold these transitions off because things were far from rosy and we would be heavily challenged and sorely inconvenienced is to miss the very point of the practice of meeting change. We must come to welcome the awkwardness and inconvenience of change because that is precisely where our learning edges live. So, even as we here at CXC negotiate the sticky places (and yes, there are LOTS of them,) we know this is the right thing to do…and it is the right time.

Entering the Doorways
One of the practices of our New Dharma spiritual tradition is to bring our palms together and bow upon entering and leaving doorways. The hands form what is called gassho in Japanese, a bringing together of all things into One. It is the universally familiar gesture of namaste, prayer, respect, welcome. Out of this Oneness arises the bow, a gesture that in the West might be thought of as a lowering, but practiced well, in its quiet humility is actually a raising up. For us, it marks the transition—from outside to inside; from busy day to quiet sitting; from scattered head to One Mind; from “get it done” to “let it be”—with an imperceptibly small ceremony that gives us permission to release what came before so that we might step fully into what is new.

Transitions are the doorways to change. Choosing to engage transition and enter each doorway as consciously as possible but with a willingness to not know what’s on the other end is makes that change intentional.

Life IS change. And if you’ve been around for five good minutes, you know that Change Happens. So your only real choice is to either let life happen to you or for you to choose to live it.

One way to do that is to become practiced at happily, humbly and heartily Meeting Change.

With love and deep gratitude for all the unnamed stalwart practitioners of the Inner life phase of the New Dharma Meditation Center & Community that evolved into the Outer life Phase with these folks as staff of Center for Urban Peace: chandrashekara thuy tran, Karen Muktayani Villanueva, Premadasi Luna Amada, Simhanandi Evan Stubblefield, Zochi Alonzo Young, seeing it through its transition to the Center for Transformative Change. It is only for each of you that we can now step into the Social (Change) life phase of CXC to see our work for justice and deep change through. Good journey, y’all.–aKw

copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary
and founder of Center for Transformative Change. she posts, tweets &
blogs on all things change. permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact information intact.

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doing darkness

In culture, politics, relationship on October 15, 2009 at 9:10 am

dragonfly

change vs. transformation

These days, people are tossing the word transformation around and pasting it on everything from baby diapers to “How to Write a Budget” workshops as the latest hypnotic marketing voodoo. The same tired products and ineffectual programs are becoming “transformative” this and “transformational” that, hoping to gain the allure of freshly brushed pearly whites just by adding that oh-so-enticing gleaming star of transformation. The result is that in most cases in which we talk about transformation, we’re actually opting for a hyped-up variation on change, or worse yet, a dull and impotent rendition of it. This wouldn’t matter so much except for the fact that actual transformation–otherwise known as “deep change”–happens to be what we really need.

Owing to my own transitions and subsequent learning in the past year, I’ve been carrying two recurring themes everywhere I go. (1) The need for a clear articulation of the difference between “change” and “transformation” and, (2) distinguishing what is required to have the latter. I point to the metamorphoses of caterpillar-to-butterfly and nymph-to-dragonfly to illuminate both the path of transformation and some of the lessons we can take from their journeys to light our own Way.

As one of the oldest insects existing, the near-mystical dragonfly once darted where dinosaurs roamed at ten times it’s current size. But that was when trees were towering and provided more nutrients, cover and oxygen. Since then, dragonflies have downsized from wingspans as great as 20-30 inches to the more nimble 2-3 inches of today. Though dragonflies almost never walk, they’ve reduced their symbolic and consumptive footprint to a tenth of what it once was in response to the decrease in resources. We have much to learn.

Just as unique as their ancient friends, butterflies capture our imagination as embodiments of beauty and freedom. Their youth as caterpillars are spent doing nothing but consuming everything they can. Their voracious appetites cause them to shed their skin repeatedly, but they just end up bigger, stronger, faster caterpillars. That’s change. In order to complete the metamorphosis into butterflies, caterpillars must create and enter the darkness of the chrysalis where they break down into a kind of genetic goop. Special cells, unsurprisingly called “formative,” direct the actual process of becoming a butterfly. Both the seed and evolutionary inclination to transform exists within. Before that happens though, caterpillars must literally experience partial death and a destruction of their current form as they know it. That’s transformation.

Like majestic Monarchs, if we really intend to achieve the beauty, power and freedom that is our birthright as a movement of people that seek justice for all, we need to go beyond ,or TRANScend, our current FORM as we know it.

Six Ways to Know Transformation

Here are six key points to help you recognize (and influence) when change becomes deep change…when it is transformation:

1. it can’t be undone: it can’t be undone: Unlike change, which can be undone with a shift in context or the swipe of a presidential pen, there’s no going back on transformation. The depth of change that takes place is so deep, rooted and resounding, that the former way of being is no longer possible. Though our prison system may suggest otherwise, the truth is that our current society can no longer bear slavery as we know it. Likewise, while institutional racism abounds, pre-Civil Rights segregation is essentially socially unacceptable. Our society has moved beyond these once common fundamental injustices.

2. it is neutral: As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, the reality is that we can have transformations, social and otherwise, that are neither life-affirming nor progressive. Think war-crime worthy Nazi Germany or occupation & bombing of Palestine. the transformation of those societies to allow heinous injustice to other human beings to be widely and popularly acceptable exemplifies transformation’s inherent neutrality. While transformation can’t be undone, a dangerous new can take the place of what came before without clear intention. The decisive question we must ask is “Transformation towards what?” If we want positive transformative outcomes, we must intentionalize and work toward them.

3. it is rigorous: To the naked eye, transformation often takes place at such a slow rate and on such a subterranean level, it is nearly imperceptible until you’re on the other side of it. But further investigation reveals a consistency and rigor to the process that is undeniable. Deep change requires deep practice. Simply put, we have to stay with it in order to see transformation through.

4. it is whole: Transformation must take place at all levels in order to be achieved. It isn’t enough to transform only ourselves as a slew of self-help and navel-gazing spiritual teachings may profess. People form organizations, organizations become institutions, institutions inform cultures, cultures give rise to whole societies. Through and through, we must weave the fabric of our movement culture with ways of being, knowing and doing that embody precisely how we want to see society transformed: into an equitable, sustainable and just place for all.

5. it always unfolds in the present: Transformation is both path and goal. While it appears that transformation has a beginning and end, we are always somewhere in the process of one cycle of transformation or another. But our current shape, where we are along the way, shows up in the NOW.Not in the past, not in the future: How we are showing up right now is the state of our transformation.

6. we don’t know what it looks like: This does not mean without intention. As affirmed earlier, a strong, aligned intention is not only desired but critical to affecting the overall direction of the process. However, if you can imagine the exact outcome, it’s more likely to be change than transformation because our vision is necessarily limited by our current perspective and conditions. At the point at which we surrender to the process of transforming, even our vision for desired outcomes dissolves into the “goop” which makes room for those formative aspects to direct our emergence into what we will become. So you want transformation, but are hell-bent on control? Um, not so much.

What’s In A Name? Ideally Everything

Finally, I submit that in naming and framing the new social movement that burgeons just beneath the surface of our everyday work for justice from Ithaca to Istanbul, we need a descriptor that embodies the principles of such a movement into the very name itself. More than any other movement that has come before, this one must embody it’s principles at all levels…including in it’s name. Thus we need an expression that is as much the path as it is the goal. A name that is now, not later. One that calls for us to be active, rather than passive; generative rather than prescriptive; a verb (action from inside) rather than adverb (qualified from the outside). The theory and ideas might be transformatIONAL, but the movement and its practice must be transformatIVE.

And more than political, it must be social. Yes, our politics (ways of governance of people,) systems, structures must undergo change–they must be brought into alignment with the values of our heart’s yearning, not our fear’s recoiling. Indeed, our government must be aligned with our deep need for connection rather than our contempt for difference.

But the reason for shifting the political landscape must be in service to the greater goal of shifting our social landscape (ways of being with people,) so that we can change the fundamental nature of our relationship to one another, to the planet, to the world and to life itself through the vehicle of a deep change in relationship to ourselves. In our society and in our hearts, we are still willing to use force–to bomb people into peace–thus empowering our government to do so. This, we must transform ourselves to no longer be able to bear.

I often muse that if the aquatic larva knew that it would one day leave its known realm to take to the sky, it would never, ever go, and transformation would be averted. But it is birthright that calls. In this Way, we have to allow ourselves to hear and respond to the evolutionary and revolutionary call that pulls us inexorably forward into becoming our newly formed selves–personally, politically, organizationally, institutionally, across all society–making room for a vision yet to be seen.

Right now, we must actively, generatively, take rigorous, intentional action towards wholly being that which we envision, and surrender to what we cannot. We must be so that we can become.

In it’s new form, the dragonfly can dive breathtakingly into a precipitous vertical drop, become a mere blur as it darts about at breakneck speeds, only to come to an apparent dead stop, hovering magically in mid-air. For the most part, it’s the sun that dragon and butterflies need to fly…but they need the dark to grow their magic wings. So do we. It is only once we emerge from the darkness that we will dare cast off our hardened shells to truly take flight.

Let’s do the darkness so that we can all fly together.

With gratitude to Robert, Staci, Steven, Adrienne, Zulayka, Claudia, Marie, the New Dharma Community and all my transformative teachers, mentors, students and friends–aKw

copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary
and founder of Center for Transformative Change. she posts, tweets &
blogs on all things change. permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact information intact.

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the courage to be human

In leadership, relationship, spirit on September 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm

akw palms

a path to transformation

New York City — September 11-12, 2001

The devastation of this day is staggering beyond measure.

We have all heard the radio, watched the television with our mouths gaping in disbelief, our hearts wrenching in despair. We have heard talk of resolve and determination. Plans for justice and retaliation. Unanswerable questions being asked and unimaginable events being lived.

The fact is that as a culture and as a people, we are not equipped emotionally, psychically and spiritually to manage the magnitude of this tragedy in our minds. We have, mercifully, lived for so long under the dark shroud of ignorance to the scope of our vulnerability.

I want to encourage you all, first and foremost, to be still. To listen to your heartbeat. To be silent. To breathe. If you listen deeply, it is the voice of sanity and compassion that you will find there. It is the voice that will remind you of your connection with all beings.

Yes, you are connected with the untold hundreds, possible thousands of unknowing people that lost their lives instantly in the World Trade Center and Pentagon crashes.

You are connected with the undoubtedly horrified passengers and crew of the airplanes turned into weapons of mass destruction.

You are connected with the brave rescue workers, firemen, police officers that willingly ran into flaming buildings as others poured out, only to have two of the world’s largest structures of steel, glass and concrete fall in on them along with the countless victims trying desperately to escape.

You are connected to the mothers, the fathers, the sisters, nephews and cousins of all those people. To their teachers, their coworkers, their friends and their lovers that must carry an unthinkable burden forth.

And you are also connected with the men or women that, with frightening calculation, walked onto the planes of four major airlines, knowing that they would pilot their own deaths and take the lives of innocent people on their journey.

We cannot close our eyes or our hearts to not one of those people. We cannot close our minds to the unbearable truth of the consequences of our actions. Of creating, perpetuating and sitting on the sidelines of a culture that passes off violence as a reasonable tool to achieve peace. Of doling out so-called justice only to those who are not in our favor. Those who do not say the right things, have the right color, were not born into the right caste, worship the right gods and live the right lives. Our unbalanced sense of justice is increasingly available on behalf of only those who can afford it or offer enough benefit in exchange. Most of us sat idly by, comfortable that our distance made us safe.

Now how many additional lives do we need to see taken to make us feel truly secure? What punishment will feel like it is enough?

It is tempting to find oneself taking aim at a nameable group and pulling the trigger of anger. Which is why now, more than any other moment in our history, we must make the most courageous effort, take the hardest step towards living in an altogether different way.

If we are lulled into seeing the people that have committed this desperate act and the people that will surely pay with their lives in any act of retaliation as separate, different, Others that are not a reflection of the darkest parts of our own selves, we will lose this crucial opportunity. We will lose the window to a realization of ourselves as more compassionate, more thoughtful, more fully connected with the events of our world, and thus more responsible. This bears repeating: if we continue to refuse to take personal responsibility for the cause and conditions: for the oppression, the inequity, the sheer unnatural imbalance of our existence, we will never witness an end to this.

So I implore you to not allow your inexpressible confusion, sorrow, helplessness and fear to numb you into turning over your agency. Do not let your desire for a new illusion of personal safety, of “freedom” to give license to further violence.

Our military may be “powerful and prepared” but are we? Are we prepared to, with fierce determination, with the strength bestowed by personal realization, insist that we will no longer let violence be perpetuated in our names, in the name of justice, and most cruelly, in the name of peace?

We must band ourselves and our hearts together to put an end to the cycle of violence that we now know we are not immune from. We must put an end to the wars being waged against our humanity and become warriors for the common cause of peace.

We are desperate to have the answers to every question, to always know what to do and how to respond. It is obvious that there is so much that we don’t, but what we do know is that the way it has been done is not working. You have permission to turn off your TVs and radios and simply feel your pain.

You have permission to not know.

It is easy to see ourselves as good and well-wishing when the fabric of our very being is not called into question. But can we be open and honest about who we really are, about the evil acts we are capable of conceiving while staring in the face of our own remarkable frailty? And can we use that to change?

We need to find peace in our own hearts first.

Many people find their ways to spiritual paths, to personal paths of transformation when the ground they always knew to be there falls out from underneath them. The ground has fallen out beneath us America. Let us all find the wisdom to see this unspeakable tragedy as a doorway to meaningful change, as a precursor to collective transformation. If we do not accept this challenge, if we are not brave and unrelenting in our demand, but instead cower behind the “quiet, unyielding” and clearly insatiable, emotion of anger, the loss of thousands of lives will not be merely unspeakable, they will be in vain.

A meditation, prayer, affirmation for our humanity:

“May all beings be granted with the strength, determination and wisdom to extinguish anger and reject violence as a way.

May we seek, find and fully realize the love and compassion that already lives within us and allow them to permeate our every action.

May we exercise the precious gift of choice and the capacity to change that makes us uniquely human and is the only true path to freedom. “

copyright MMI. angel Kyodo williams. all rights reserved.

Note: This essay first appeared September 2001 in connection with the events of September 11, 2001 and its expected and most unfortunately fulfilled aftermath. It was widely distributed online. The final prayer subsequently became the Warrior Spirit Prayer, the signature prayer of the New Dharma Community, a transformative practice community founded by williams, now based in Berkeley CA and with circles forming in cities throughout the US.

If any good at all comes of it, may that benefit be extended to ALL my relations. —aKw

angel Kyodo williams, the changeangel, is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary
and founder of Center for Transformative Change. she posts, tweets &
blogs on all things change. permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with contact information intact.

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the practice of inconvenience

In culture, money, relationship, spirit on August 7, 2009 at 5:57 am

what’s in your wallet?

Years ago, Gloria Steinem, the formidable godmother of modern feminism posed a query that my fading memory won’t recall exactly, but it irrevocably changed how I view my life. The gist of it was this: if life came to an end for you, if you were hit by a car or something less tragic, but equally sudden while out in the world, and someone had to go through your wallet to find out who you are, would your checkbook reflect your values? Would your statement make a statement and is it the one you would want shared? What story would the carbon copies of what you sign on the dotted line for tell about what matters to you? Not the story of a year ago before the massive nosedive we’re in became clear. Today. Now.

I know, i know….many of us are so politically correct that we don’t write paper checks and maybe haven’t for years, but you get my drift: whether its paper, plastic, prepaid or PayPal…

What’s in YOUR wallet?

Later this month, Muslims all over the world will begin Ramadan, the annual 30-day observance of a daylight fast. Neither food nor water passes the lips from sun up to sun down. The same goes for sex and any unlawful, unkind or distasteful acts. Things of pleasure and things of pain are released equally in a daily commitment to taking in less while directing one’s energy inwards for reflection, prayer and renewal. Since September 2001, I’ve engaged this deep practice of total abstinence intermittently, regaining consistency in the last few years.

When I commented on it beginning soon (August 22nd in North America), a community member scoffed at its inconvenience: it lands just as we are preparing for our own Fall Practice Period, not to mention working feverishly on our single biggest event of the year. Her concern is well-placed. The outcome of this year’s event matters like no other before: like many smart but small organizations, we’re sitting on a financial precipice looking over the edge.

This is, more often than not, the nature of deep practice: It isn’t convenient. It doesn’t fit your schedule. It doesn’t conform to your whim. It isn’t selectable for good days instead of bad. In short, it isn’t a hobby…it’s a practice.

And owing to this practice, as deeply as we are in a literal existential crisis, we are happy. Not happy to be facing the jaws of organizational Death (or Rebirth as the case may be) but happy with who we are, what we do and HOW we show up in the world. I’ve made peace with the fact that one of the reasons we’re in a tight place is because we gave up the Game of jumping through money hoops. We continue to honor our commitment to change from the inside. Daily. 5:40am wakeup bell. 6am yoga. 7am meditation. Week after week. When the bills come and when they go.

If not as dramatic, remaining committed to established personal and organizational practice–especially in the face of challenge–is a stance no less determined than that of Gandhi’s Salt Marchers, or those folks that continued to cross the bridge in Selma. We put our butts on the line and on the cushion to usher forth a new way of Being Change. Facing financial firing squads, we stand (and sit) committed to finding Right Relationship through real partnership with a community of practitioners, participants and donors that care enough to support this new way even when it is neither easy nor convenient. In the process, we stand committed to maintaining Right Relationship with ourselves.

While Ramadan is a fasting practice, it’s not about holding back–it’s about reconnecting with the places within us that have tightened over the year and re-learning to give generously from that place of connection that knows that we ourselves own nothing. We belong to and are of the Divine and are infinitely blessed to express that Divinity here on Earth. On our knees, with foreheads touching the earth, palms turned toward the sky, our very breath is a celebration of Life. Each morning, we meet the darkness in symbolic solitude and contemplate the challenge before us: a day without eating. As days come and go, humbled in the face of our increasing frailty, physical strength tapped, endurance tested, we meet our humanity. Each night, our commitment is rewarded only by the opportunity to renew ourselves to meet the challenge again. The iftar meal breaks the fast in community, a bonding together to regain strength from not only the food but the energy of shared commitment. Ramadan is ended with a feast, but also with alms-giving–sharing of whatever we have–regardless of how much, an equally significant practice of commitment that brings balance.

In an essay on The Transformative Power of Practice Staci Haines and Ng’ethe Maina, two leaders in the field of Transformative Social Change, talk about two kinds of practice: Default Practices are “deeply rooted behaviors that we do automatically, consistently, and unconsciously in response to any given situation” and Intentional Practices are ” those that we choose to do in order to transform the way we show up in the world. Through new practices we increase choice and alignment with our values.” When we are faced with challenge, it’s especially easy to return to–and justify–deeply rooted unconscious practices: fear, contraction, a sense of lack and a resulting need to control. Ramadan shows up every year with a fresh invitation to let go of craving, control and excess with no pat-on-the-back congratulations, no true witness but that of your own deepening alignment with your commitment to Change.

Now is not the time to hold out. Not on your commitments, not on your practice and not on change. Change IS on the horizon. The best thing about it is that at this moment, we can’t actually make out what it’s going to look like. Like much of the unknown, we can take that to be a mark of real danger or of real hope. I’m opting for the latter, but I’m practicing come what may.

Are you practicing what you are committed to?
or, in other words:

What’s in YOUR wallet?


Sure, the best things in life are free. And someone pays–through hard work, advocacy and showing up–for equitable access to much of it. Even if you have a little, break off a little bit of that something. Put your cash where your heart is. We need a little change to bring about big change.

To start you off, here’s what’s in my wallet. While there were others, I am now reorganzing my priorities to support those that need it most:

In no particular order, these are organizations that need support today. Now. Of all the great work out there, I used three criteria to bring these to the top in addition to financial need:

1. Their leadership takes less, little or even no pay, not out of martyrdom, but from a place of studied consideration of what is needed and what is enough. Each brings not only depth of experience, but extraordinarily unique lenses to personal practice as the fundamental basis of systemic change.

2. Their staff, if they have one, are deeply committed to the work, giving of their time and energy generously and unequivocably. The collaborative nature, unpaid volunteers and networks of support make each organization’s impact in their fields much greater than their budgets. There’s a lot more bang for your buck with them.

but most importantly,

3. Their vision is one that holds a unique place for the new change that is still taking shape. They are holding open the doorway to new organizational ways of being, making their practice–how they are being–as important as what they are doing.

Simply said, should these uniquely situated organizations disappear, they cannot be replicated and they would take with them a bright lens into all of our future. Every dollar given to these organizations would be multiplied ten-fold by the devoted thoughtfulness, hard work, deep practice, ingenious creativity and sheer will of these organizations and their leaders, the integrity of each of whom i can vouch for personally:

Ruckus Society
http://www.ruckus.org/donate
Oakland-based Ruckus provides environmental, human rights, and social justice organizers of impacted communities nationally and beyond with the tools, training, and support needed to achieve their goals. Through these trainings, we help people learn the skills they need to practice nonviolent direct action safely and effectively.

La Plazita Institute
http://www.laplazitainstitute.org
Based in Albuquerque, Designed around the philosophy of la cultura cura or culture cures, La Plazita’s programs strengthen community, families and enable youth to leave behind a destructive lifestyle by tapping into their own roots to express core traditional values of respect, honor, love, family, and community.

the stone house: a center for spiritual life and strategic action @ stone circles
http://thestonehousenc.blogspot.com/
Just outside the NC Triangle, the stone house is rooted in place. Movements for social justice have always thrived in places of sustenance and safety where people can deepen relationships and envision new strategies for political organizing.

and naturally our very own:

Center for Transformative Change (CXC)

Click to donate:http://www.snipurl.com/cxcdonate

Holding it down on the South Berkeley/North Oakland border, CXC is the first national center entirely dedicated to bridging the inner and outer lives of social change agents, activists and allies to support a more effective, more sustainable social justice movement. As a meta-intermediary, this unique hybrid organization is both a residentially-based community of practice (not just theory!) and an astute articulator of the growing movement toward Transformative Social Change.


copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams.

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary and
founder of the Center for Transformative Change.
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