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The Smile of the Buddha on the Body of Marx
by Susanna GENDALL

Although initial statements tend to evolve into clichés before our eyes, today is a day of progress and illumination. Subterranean suspicions are revealed and lead to inspiring clarifications about our positions amidst this process.

I knew you were there...

Edith brings us back down to the ground, the importance of awareness and practical action in our own worlds - "simple truths lead to realisations about other relationships". It is only through our own environment and reality that we can truly understand the consequences of our actions and thought patterns. The nature of the world, i.e. euphemistic inclinations and the danger of these in our abstract perceptions of our own realities. Edith speaks of these cows that are being slaughtered, and this is not the word we hear, one must overcome the world of images and words that slip off so easily.

But Jeanne humbles us with her experience of working with children (it is in these stories where we hear the connection), their instinctive, graceful, uncontrived awareness of the connected nature of the world. She speaks of this child who sees a little bit of sunshine through the dust bin: "I knew you were there", she says. A sense that these are the ones we should look to.

If it were not for hope

Afternoon discussion brings other voices. Makarand speaks of the need to"globalise hope", but this fine line is illuminated again, where we must not be disillusioned by hope either: "If it were not for hope the lamb would not lick the hand that had come to shed its blood" (Dr. Shiva Shankar).

The question of our "petit bourgeois" positions in relation to those struggling, and for life, not just with their own minds, etc. Clarification of the importance of uniting the practical and abstract, that this happens best or more penetratingly through one's own experience, etc.

Closer to the point

Conflict is refreshing and keeps the flow: "we must de-mystify ourselves". The danger of images all around us, in television, newspapers, conferences: it is these cut-off points that are the way out. The issue of our position and those less privileged positions: "The disconnection between our deliberations and their reality". Debris of religious criticism that sounds like it's personal to some defence systems, but makes things feels closer to the point.

Evening is relaxed, drinking sangria, and music. It feels like we have moved through a lot of the extraneous, and it's clearer, and even exciting.

- From Fireflies Ashram, near Bangalore, India, Asia, June 23, 2001
- Asian Continental Meeting


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