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  • Well thank you so much. Jerry - dear friend. Naropa University graduating class,

  • relatives, friends, uh - I'm deeply moved and I'm profoundly grateful to be here. Uh

  • - this is a wonderful moment in everyone's life and

  • I'm going to take just a brief moment of - personal time to say its doubly wonderful

  • for me because not only is my wife here but my

  • son - and his wife and my two little grand daughters - ages 8 and 6. CLAPPING...are

  • here and uh you guys know who I mean right? Ok good.

  • And I just want to say a word about them because I have been thinking about them in the

  • Naropa context. So - two years ago my wife and I were - in Golden and we were hiking

  • in the foothills with - Nia then 6 years old and Kiara age 4 at the time. And Nia was -

  • they both were hiking barefoot up these rocky trails and I finally asked Nia how can you

  • do that - it just - it hurts me to just watch you - walk this terrain barefoot. And she

  • very quickly and instinctively said well I'm a

  • nature girl - nature loves me and I love nature except for the spiky parts! LAUGHING.

  • At which point Kiara then 4 - wanted to say something about herself and she said and

  • grandpa I'm a vegetarian except for bacon. LAUGHING.

  • So my sense is that these two fit the Naropa vibe - would you agree?

  • CLAPPING

  • And I'm going - I have schedule visits with the admissions department for both of them

  • right after - right after this uh - this ceremony.

  • I'm honored to be here, but my true honor is that I get to share this important moment

  • in the lives of the lass of 2015.

  • A deep bow to all of you. And a deep bow also - to the friends and family and relatives

  • and strangers and the staff and the faculty and administration of Naropa University who

  • have helped you come to this day.

  • Naropa is a very special place. I think some of you know - that the contemplative

  • teaching and learning movement is now getting traction in higher education around the

  • country. It's slow but its coming. Coming to an extent one could not have imagined 40

  • years ago - when this university was founded. Let alone even 30 or 20 years ago. And

  • Naropa has planted those seeds. Uh this is a greenery of something that is now growing.

  • Our task is to let the world know where the greenery is uh so let's try to do that. Get

  • - get the - CLAPPING - get the word out. I have

  • tried to be your emissary - I want to do that on into the future because I think what happens

  • here is a very important contribution not only to you as individuals but to higher education

  • and to the world - at large.

  • I have two modest graduation gifts for the class of 2015. I wish I had more to offer

  • - but for now this.

  • The first is 6 brief suggestions about the road ahead of you. And the second is a promise

  • to stop talking in about 12 minutes so that you can get on that road. CHEERING

  • Sooner rather than later.

  • My first suggestion is simple - be reckless when it comes to affairs of the heart.

  • All right. CHEERING

  • Now since half of you misinterpreted that I'm - LAUGHING --

  • It's true I was - I spent the 60s in Berkeley, but I am 76 now and uh - there may be snow

  • on the roof but there is still a fire in the furnace. What I -- CHEERING!

  • Anybody know CPR - I don't know. LAUGHING

  • What I really mean parents and grandparents...

  • Is be passionate. Fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the

  • natural and or human worlds and take risks on its behalf no matter how vulnerable they

  • make you. No one ever died saying I'm sure glad for the self centered, self serving and

  • self protective life I lived. LAUGHING

  • Offer yourself to the world. Your energies, your gifts, your vision, your heart with open

  • hearted generosity, but understand that when you live that way you will soon learn how

  • little you know and how easy it is to fail - to grow and love in service you, I, all

  • of us must value ignorance as much as knowledge

  • and failure as much as success.

  • I know this is ironic advice on graduation day.

  • But clinging to what you already know and do well - is the path to an unlived life.

  • So cultivate beginners mind. Walk straight into

  • your not knowing and take the risk of failing and falling again and again then getting up

  • again and again to learn.

  • That's the path to a life lived large in service of love, truth and justice.

  • Second, as you integrate ignorance and failure into your knowledge and success. Do the

  • same with all the alien parts of yourself. Take everything that's bright and beautiful

  • in you and introduce it to the shadow side of

  • yourself.

  • Let your altruism meet your egotism.

  • Let your generosity meet your greed.

  • Let your joy meet your grief. Everyone has a shadow even Buddhists, even Quakers -

  • even high-minded people like us. Especially high-minded people like us. CLAPPING

  • But when you are able to say I am all of the above - my shadow as well as my light - the

  • shadow's power is put in service of the good.

  • Wholeness is the goal that wholeness does not mean perfection. It means embracing

  • brokenness as an integral part of your life.

  • As a person who as Jerry said - has made three deep dives - into depression a long the

  • way. I do not speak lightly of this.

  • I simply know that it is true.

  • As you acknowledge and embrace all that you are - you give yourself a gift that will

  • benefit the rest of us as well.

  • Our world is in desperate need of leaders who live what Socrates called an examined

  • life.

  • In critical areas like politics, religion, business and the mass media - too many leaders

  • refuse to name and claim their shadows because they don't want to look weak.

  • CLAPPING

  • With shadows that go unexamined and unchecked - they use power heedlessly in ways

  • that harm countless people and undermine public trust in our major institutions. If you

  • value self-knowledge - you will become the leaders we need to help renew the society.

  • But if for some reason and I doubt that there is anyone like this here - if for some reason

  • you chose to live an unexamined life after you leave this place - I beg of you - do not

  • take a job that involves other people. LAUGHING

  • CLAPPING

  • Third, and critically important - as you welcome whatever you find alien within yourself

  • - extend that same welcome to whatever you find alien in the outer world. I don't know

  • any virtue more important these days than hospitality to the stranger. To those we

  • perceive as other than us.

  • The old majority in this society - people who look like me is on its way out. By 20

  • - yes...

  • By 2045 - the majority of Americans will be people of color.

  • CHEERING

  • The sad fact is that many in the old majority fear that fact and their fear - their fear

  • shamelessly manipulated by too many politicians is bringing us down.

  • CLAPPING

  • The renewal this nation needs will not come from people who are afraid of otherness and

  • race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. CLAPPING

  • Its because of that fear that our once vital society is grid locked and stagnant and our

  • main hope for renewal is diversity welcomed and embraced. I recently met a professor on

  • a visit to Southern California who had left a prestigious institution predominantly white

  • to teach undocumented youth in Southern California. I asked him how it was going and

  • he said best move I ever made - my previous students felt entitled and demanded to be

  • entertained.

  • My undocumented students are hungry to learn, hardworking and courageous enough to

  • keep moving out of their comfort zones.

  • America will be renewed by people with these qualities.

  • CLAPPING

  • And if we - if we - who have privilege and power will welcome them, collaborate with

  • them and help remove the obstacles in their way - 2045 will be a year of great promise

  • for all of us.

  • Fourth, take on big jobs worth doing. Jobs like the spread of love, peace and justice.

  • That means refusing to be seduced by our cultural obsession with being effective as

  • measured by short term results.

  • We all want our work to make a difference, but if we take on the big jobs - and our only

  • measure of success is next quarter's bottom line - we will end up disappointed, dropping

  • out and in disappear.

  • Think of someone you respect because he or she lived a life devoted to high values. Or

  • Rosa Parks or Nelson Mandela or someone known only to a few.

  • At the end of the road was that person able to say I am sure glad I devoted my life to

  • that job - because now everyone in the world can

  • check it off their to do lists forever and ever.

  • No, our heroes take on impossible jobs and stay with them for the long haul because they

  • live by a standard that trumps effectiveness. The name of that standard I think is

  • faithfulness. Faithfulness to your gifts, faithfulness to your perception of the needs

  • of the world and faithfulness to offering your gifts

  • to whatever needs are within your reach.

  • The tighter we cling to the norm of the effectiveness, the smaller the tasks we'll take on

  • because they are the only ones that get short-term results. Public education is a tragic

  • example.

  • We in this country no longer care about educating children. A big job that's never done.

  • We care only about getting kids to pass tests with measurable results.

  • CLAPPING

  • And we care about that - whether or not or without even considering whether they

  • measure anything that matters. In the process we are crushing the spirits of a lot of good

  • teachers and vulnerable kids. Care about being effective of course. But care even more

  • about being faithful as countless teachers do. Faithful to your calling. And to the true

  • needs of those entrusted to your care.

  • You won't get the big jobs done in your lifetime, but if at the end of the day you can say -

  • I was faithful - I think you will be ok. CLAPPING

  • Fifth, since suffering I don't need to tell this to Buddhists - I just didn't know you

  • could have so much fun. That's all I didn't know.

  • Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human I urge you to remember this -- violence

  • is what happens when we don't know what else to do with our suffering. Violence

  • is what happens when we don't know what else to do with our suffering.

  • Sometimes we aim that violence at ourselves as in overwork that leads to burn our or

  • worse. Or in the many forms of substance abuse. Sometimes we aim that violence at

  • other people. Racism, sexism and homophobia often come from people trying to relieve

  • their suffering by claiming superiority over others.

  • The good news is that suffering can be transformed into something that brings life not

  • death. It happens every day.

  • I am 76 years old. I now know many people who have suffered the loss of the dearest

  • person in their lives.

  • At first they go into deep grief certain that their lives will never again be worth living.

  • But then they slowly awaken to the fact that not in spite of their loss but because of

  • it. They've become bigger, more compassionate

  • people with more capacity of heart to take in other people's sorrows and joys.

  • These are broken hearted people, but their hearts have been broken open rather than

  • broken apart.

  • So every day exercise your heart by taking in life's little pains and joys. That kind

  • of exercise will make your heart supple the way

  • a runner makes a muscle supple. So that when it breaks and it surely will - it will

  • break not into a fragment grenade, but into a

  • greater capacity for love.

  • Sixth, and finally I quote St. Benedict - not a Buddhist but still worth quoting. Who said

  • daily keep your death before your eyes.

  • That may sound like a morbid practice but as I think you know it isn't - if you hold

  • a healthy awareness of your own mortality - your

  • eyes will be opened to the grandeur and glory of life.

  • And that will evoke all of the virtues I have named as well as those I haven't.

  • Such as hope, generosity and gratitude.

  • If the unexamined life is not worth living - its equally true that the unlived life is

  • not worth examining.

  • So I'll close - with this brief quote from a great writer - Diane Ackerman - who reminds

  • us to live - truly live our lives.

  • And I quote:

  • "The great affair - the love affair with life is to live as variously as possible. To groom

  • one's curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred - climb aboard and gallop over the thick

  • sun struck hills everyday.

  • Where there is no risk - the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding and despite all its

  • dimensions, valleys, pinnacles and detours - life will seem to have none of its magnificent

  • geography - only a lynx. It began in mystery and it will end in mystery - but what a

  • savage and beautiful country lies between.

  • Once again, a deep bow to the class of 2015 to each and every one of you - traveling

  • mercies and blessings - as you make the journey from one mystery to the next and the

  • next and the next.

  • CLAPPING

Well thank you so much. Jerry - dear friend. Naropa University graduating class,

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Naropa University Presents Parker Palmer & "Living from the Inside Out"

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    Robin He posted on 2017/02/26
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