Facing the Future: Resources for Resistance and a Rebirth of Wonder

by Mark Chmiel

Dipa Ma’s greatest gift to me was showing what was possible—and living it. She was impeccable about effort. People with this ability to make effort are not disheartened by how long it takes, how difficult it is. It takes months, it takes years, it doesn’t matter, because the courage of the heart is there. She gave the sense that with right effort, anything is possible.
—Jospeh Goldstein

Listening to birdsong and the wind sift through the t0ps of forests never failed to provide respite from bearing witness to ecocide.
—Dahr Jamail

The only worth globalizing is dissent.
—Arundhati Roy

and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder
—Lawrence Ferlinghetti

_________________

Recently, a friend, acknowledging the pressing issues of the climate, told me matter-of-factly, “Relationships are the most important thing in life.” In this fall class, we will engage in minute particulars of care for our natural world, practice choosing skillful means in daily life, pursue political and cultural investigations, call things by the their true names, savor and circulate poems, and cultivate neighborliness and the dear love of comrades.

Among our teachers will be two women from India, the Buddhist meditation adept Dipa Ma and the activist and writer Arundhati Roy, as well as the intrepid U.S. American journalist and mountaineer Dahr Jamail.

We meet on five Tuesdays in October, and three Tuesdays in November, beginning October 1. We are hosted by Dianne Lee and Bill Quick at their home in Richmond Heights. We gather at 6:45 and g0 till 8:15. Each session with have time for silence, paired sharing, writing exercises, book discussions, announcements, poetry recitations, and deep looking. A class blog will enable us to share our various writings and sources of inspiration.

Tuition is $175, payable to me by check or Paypal. If you are interested in participating via online, let me know! In the summer Edward Said course, a friend joined with us in Forest Park Southeast from Los Angeles through Face Time. (Tuition $125).

Email or message me if you are interested —markjchmiel@gmail.com.

Some Essentials
A notebook, tablet, or laptop

Receptivity, kindness, daring

These books—
1. Dahr Jamail, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption
2. Amy Schmidt, Dipa Ma: The Life and Teachings of a Buddhist Master
3. Arundhati Roy, Capitalism: A Ghost Story

(The above three books are fairly short, direct, compelling, even inspiring. I can use my university library privileges to get you some of the books if you prefer not to buy.)

Plus, you select a book of poetry to read (or reread). If you want suggestions, I’m happy to oblige. For instance, Eliot Weinberger’s anthology, The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry. (Here’s Wei T’ai: “Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling.”)


Photo of Big Sky over San Francisco by Katie Murphy [I cropped the original]