Dear Friends, Sometimes we find our own answers in what we share with others or at least indications of where we might look deeper. Loneliness is the one thing that we all share. One of my teachers in the martial arts would say 'I have no friends, I make my mind my friend'. The mind is designed to receive but often it is so filled with conditioned thought that it is difficult to discern between conditioned mind and true mind. We must empty it out, clean house and not be afraid to sit with the pause. It seems we are always rushing, at least mentally, into the future. Wisdom however, requests a pause. If we cannot give ourselves such a pause, the Universe will likely give it to us. In the form of illness, in the form of a massive mercury in retrograde, in the form of our relationships breaking down, in the form of our inner garden drying up.

I encourage you not to fear. Because the pause has nothing in it it feels empty. It feels like we have jettisoned into wide open, empty space. Sometimes we can not see an end to it and not seeing an end to it, or for that matter, not even understanding a beginning or a need for it, we panic. Sometimes there is a feeling of not being able to continue. That, in this pause, there is no movement. No encouragement to move, at all. Know that this is a time of extremely high power and shapeshifting. To continue to act as though nothing is happening robs the world and the coming generations of our insights. Insights readily available to us during this particular time which is a highly significant universal moment of reflection. Give yourself over to a time without form, without boundaries. Fish in deep waters, reflecting on a lifetime of activity and calling up knowledge that is critical to our survival and progression.

I was sitting in a circle with some fellow practitioners from the Still Ripening Sangha enjoying a meal together in noble silence. My attention turned toward some soft movement on the blacktop lot surface below us and discovered perhaps a hundred or more ants wandering around. As I softened my focus not looking at any individual ant but the patterns that the whole body of these ants formed I began to see how other species form and continuing to look into this I turned my attention to how humans organize and I saw clearly that the way we live at the monastery is a very natural way for humans to organize and live together. The way that we sit together, walk together, work together and eat together. There was a time in our human development when we were recruited either voluntarily or involuntarily to leave our tribes and communities and relocate to these great city-states to become producers in a consumer based mentality. We moved away from our understanding that we are part of a collective human body and began to think of ourselves as individuals deserving the latest software updates for our i phones and an individual home filled with individual belongings.

I would like to encourage everyone to take a break and look deeply at our individual lives. Where is this train ride taking us? We can build our communities and discover the peace, happiness and freedom of simple, healthy living and dwelling happily in the present moment. We can retrain our minds and learn the art of mindful living.

Raven is a resident of Carlsbad with his wife and two sons and is the director and founder of the Deep Ecology Institute and the Gaia Mystery School. He enjoys practicing the art of mindful living and sharing mindfulness practices with individuals, groups and businesses.

"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children."

~ Sitting Bull, Lakota Sioux, 1877