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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Herd

As I entered a new Immersion with my teacher Karen, there was a new reading list-- VERY EXCITING! One of the books is called Self Observation by Red Hawk. To say that this book is incredible is like saying the Grand Canyon is just a little hole--

This book begins:
Knowing Others is wisdom:
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
--Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Sutra 33

WOW! right, two sentences full of incredible openings. I decided that this would be good for the kids at JDC to have read to them, that's right I said read to them--- not because they cannot read, but because being read to is a comforting experience and hearing the words deepings thier understanding.

It would be easy to say the kids sat and listened to the first chapter, but they didn't and I'm ok with that, the first chapter is about being part of the herd-- that as mammals we are herd animals, therefore driven by a leader and very suseptible to habits-- moving in circles constantly repeating them. In JDC it is very much a herd mentality-- the kids are always following the "strongest" one-- right or wrong they want to be part of the crowd-- to think for themselves would mean breaking away from the herd, and a loner in jail is looked at as weak-- therefore picked on because the herd is not "ok" with someone thinking on their own-- the loner might actually change the minds of some of the herd.

I say I'm ok with them not listening to the first chapter because they live it-- every day and have their whole lives, each family is a herd, and each of these kids out of survival has had to conform to the herd even if they do not think what the herd is doing is right-- and kids who do not have strong family support turn to the herd of their freinds, where no matter what they cannot stray and be alone-- it's too scary being alone.

Each member of the JDC herd makes a contribution, and in some weird way the kids feel like they are part of something-- good or bad, each of us wants to feel included in something, these kids are no different. What happens in a herd mentality however is that each member loses a small part of their "basic goodness" because they cease to listen to their true Self and give up their thoughts for the acceptance of others.

Even though the kids did not listen or what I perceived to be listening, there was conversation during yoga about fitting in-- and what it really means. One boy asked me, if I ever followed a herd (busted) and I said yes, we all have the basic instinct to "fit in" not feel left out- but one day I decided that I wanted to make decisions about my life for me-- and even though I'm still friends with many of the people i don't live my life to impress them. Another boy asked, what if you can't get out of your herd-- what if you pledged to stay with them no matter what-- what if you will be hurt if you leave-----WOW! I have to be honest that in that moment I had no answer for that, I know and he knows and everyone knows what he was talking about-- gangs-- and that is a herd that I don't understand, but yet I do because we all want to feel included, and when you are so alone that anything feels better than being alone-- a gang feels good in the beginning, and you feel safe for maybe the first time in your life because you have someone to protect you.

Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.....

1 comment:

Chris Francovich said...

I don't think I have every adequately expressed how honored I am to know you and how much I respect what you do. Eli has helped me see better the scope and the depth of your work. Thank you.