Tara Talks: Remembering Our Shared Humanity

[music] Namaste and welcome. Well as I mentioned
a little bit ago to the local group here, I’m really happy to be back and engaged
as has been broadcasted some, I’ve been on the west coast for a couple of
weeks and I got to behold my the berthing of a granddaughter. It was
amazing magic to watch and then a couple of weeks, the first two weeks, you know… And so I was basking in the mystery and how the love of this universe is kind of just flowing through this sentient newly incarnated being and I remember one
morning, my son and daughter-in-law were kind of bleary-eyed and I was like
waxing poetic about the mystery of the universe, but you know what? They were nodding, they were ecstatic and exhausted both, I could tell… You know, a little bit of jaundice, when’s the milk coming, is it… you know, the whole deal. And it was, just as so many know, a wonderful just dipping into the ‘what matters’. And in case I
sound a bit airy-fairy about it all, I did take the 6:00 a.m. shift in terms of [rocking motion], you know… So but it was beautiful to witness the psychology and the biology and the spirit of ‘this being belongs’, and just this natural flow of just dedicating to what is part of us. And of course it was poignant to feel the juxtaposition of the news in our world, because here I was in this sense of all this belonging, and the news coming and fast and furious about the suffering of separating of
families and the suffering of yet another African-American youth, unarmed, killed in the streets of Pittsburgh, and then now just very recently, the suffering of targeting Muslim countries in terms of travel, so just feeling this contrast and, one person was expressing to me his revulsion, you know, aiming it towards a well known political figure, and I was struck and I’ve been struck a
number of times by this about how misguided the anger was and how directing towards any individual feels so misguided to me, it’s like it feels like kind of pointing at a rash when there’s a disease through the whole body – I don’t know, that’s just kind of one way that it comes to me, that, you know, what
is the real disease that’s going on? And I’ll just say it to you that I had a
totally different talk plan for tonight and then this morning I was walking
and taking in the world in many ways and just started weeping and realized I
couldn’t give the talk I had planned. So what you’re getting… just kind of this
is where I am right now, just to talk about this. The disease, that’s in the whole body, you know the whole question ‘what drives
us to cruelty?’ it’s like I couldn’t not talk about the heartbreak over cruelty,
and so on. And so the ‘what drives us?’, what makes it even possible to be cruel, is this very deep primitive conditioning of othering, to make others unreal, that they’re not real humans. I mean we can’t hurt someone if they feel real, if they feel like
I feel, you know, then they’re like my granddaughter, it’s like, of course… you know? You belong to me. But we can if we’re dissociated and those others aren’t really humans. Does that make sense? It’s the “unreal other”. So, that’s what lets – you know, I just read Algeria, forcing tens of thousands of people into the desert, migrants… Or, you know, that’s what
lets the Buddhist majority genocide against the Rohingya. It’s that ‘unreal other’ – ‘they’re not real humans’… And that’s what’s behind building the walls, on all the levels that I know you understand… So so I want to honor that there’s many
different feelings, and I’m not assuming anybody feels a certain way, but we can reflect together and I’d like to anchor this very much in our own lives like how is that disease in me? How do I have a habit of making somebody unreal and then acting in a way that could be hurtful? Because it’s not until we bring it to
that level that we actually can be part of a true transformation. And we need to act; we need to organize, we need to vote and we need to engage, and if we don’t look deeply into how we’re creating unreal others, including my friend who was speaking with revulsion, that’s creating an unreal other. We’re not going to be able to actually transform and heal the disease. So, one of the stories I thought maybe I’d start with that has always touched me so much is of somebody I admire very much, he’s a longtime meditator and a longtime prisoner, Jarvis Masters – and some of you have heard of him, he was in the exercise yard at San Quentin, as
the story goes, and a big young inmate raised a rock and he was going to throw it at a pigeon. Now, usually when you’re in the yard, the
rule of thumb is: mind your own business. You know it’s, you know, people get
into fights very, very quickly… But Jarvis immediately raised his arms to stop the guy and, super antagonized, the young man said: ‘What are you doing?’, you know… And so everybody’s tensing up because this is how fights start, but here’s what Jarvis said, he said – this is real spontaneous – he said: ‘That bird has my wings.’ ‘That bird has my wings.’ And immediately the tension dissipated. The guy put down his rock, kind of shaking his head like, you know… But it’s interesting, for days after, inmates would come up to Jarvis kind of individually and say: ‘So what do you mean by that Jarvis, that bird has my wings?’ And in a way, as you listen, something in you knows what that means right. It’s like, when we pay close attention, to another person, like really attend, or when we pay close attention to our dog or to our favorite plant or to any part of this living world, that life-form becomes a part of us; it starts belonging. It matters to us; we started attuning to how we do share wings. We all have the same longing to live fully, we have a longing to connect. And we have a longing to be
free. it might be buried by free but we have those longings. But if we’re preoccupied, if we’re off in our mental worry, plan, obsess… if we’re judging and throwing stones, we’re cut off from that heart wisdom. That’s the disease; we get cut off from that knowing, we forget ‘that bird has my wings.’ [music]

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