James Gimian’s editorial from the January 2011 Mindfulness Issue of the Shambhala Sun.
“Ending and beginning again, like the sun and the moon.” This line from Sun Tzu’s Art of War is a commentary on how opportunities for extraordinary action present themselves in the ever-changing world. It also describes the exciting times at the Shambhala Sun these past months. Let me explain.
Recently I attended three events that the Shambhala Sun sponsored and created special publications for. These three very different events occurred over a period of ten days and were attended in total by nearly 15,000 people eager to hear about mindfulness, awareness, and compassion.
The first was Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Lynn Lecture at UCLA (1,500 attendees), a talk on mindfulness and integrative medicine for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. The Komen Foundation’s leadership in bringing integrative medicine into their campaign against breast cancer highlights the growing acceptance of mindfulness in mainstream society, and we are honored to support their important work.
Just a few days later I was on the Stanford University campus, where the Dalai Lama and Karen Armstrong were discussing “Compassion, Science, and Society” at a meeting (7,500 attendees) convened by our friends at Stanford’s Center for Compassion Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). It was amazing for me to see the lecture halls of my college years filled with entrepreneurs, students, academics, and all sorts of regular people confirming the importance of compassion to our society’s future.
Finally, right after the last hugs of congratulation ended the CCARE gathering, I drove across town to hear Ani Pema Chödrön teaching at the Smile at Fear retreat (3,000 in person and another 2,500 via live streaming). The experience of meditating in silence with 3,000 people over three days in an old auto assembly plant overlooking San Francisco Bay was powerful and awe-inspiring.
At the conclusion of each of these events, my first question was: How is it that these large halls are now being packed with people learning about meditation practice? In this issue, Norman Fisher’s book review points out one important factor: forty years ago Suzuki Roshi and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught us that Buddhism was not an “exotic wisdom from the East.” It is about the simple practice of meditation that accesses our universal human qualities of mindfulness, awareness, and compassion. From that insight it has became possible for hundreds of thousands of people to discover the many real ways that meditation practice can benefit their lives, as Barry Boyce’s interview with three bright lights of integrative medicine shows us.
But what struck me most at the “ending” of all these particular projects we’d worked on for months was that we’re really at the beginning of a much larger project. People attending these events, and many more in every corner of the land, are engaging in meditation and bringing it into every facet of life. When you connect the dots, it’s clear that this is taking the shape of a very large movement, and it’s on the verge of reaching critical mass.
In light of this emerging movement, and in order to support all those who take part in it, we see the opportunity to take extraordinary action. First, we are pleased to present you with Mindful: Living With Awareness and Compassion, the free forty-page magazine bound into the January 2011 issue of the Shambhala Sun. This special publication celebrates secular mindfulness and emphasizes practical ways you can integrate it into your life.
Mindful also introduces you to the new website Mindful.org, which will serve the emerging mindfulness community on a daily basis. We’ll do our best to learn about, report on, and connect the many people doing amazing things that have meditation and mindfulness as their foundation.
Our goal is to help the emerging mindfulness community connect and grow strong. That will increase our collective ability to bring the values of mindfulness—things like basic healthiness, kindness, and compassion—into the institutions and experiences of our everyday world. How could that be bad?
This movement has a momentum all its own, and we’ll do our best to keep up. We have a commitment to serve this community, so let’s see what happens next. For now, the sun is coming up again, and it’s another beginning.