Sally Miller Gearhart, Professor Emerita San Francisco State,
Author and self-described, "recovering political activist."
The Engaged Heart is a profoundly intelligent book, written with passion and wit. Zoe Nicholson vividly chronicles her experiences as a combatant in the struggle for Equality and the book thus constitutes a virtual manual for feminist & LGBT activism, complete with defeats and triumphs, mistakes and miracles. For those who lived over the last 50 years, the book will spark wonderful memories; for those who didn’t, it might well inspire a volcanic eruption of serious commitment on the part of those of us who treasure dreams of justice. Be ready, America!
Erin Matson, Author & Activist
The heart of the equality movement is authenticity. It is additive, diverse, individual, maddening and vibrant. It refuses to be permanently overcome by discrimination or "custom." The Engaged Heart is a shattering piece of authenticity. Zoe's life has power to empower yours.
Then people started asking for a signed paper edition of the new one. They said they wanted to hold it, write in the margins, stuff it in a suitcase.
I don't have the money for my designer to format for print (very different from kindle), a big print run or storage. I investigated a bit and found out that my printer, Worzalla, offers both Print on Demand and recycled paper. I can order in small affordable increments and will not have the problem of climate-controlled storage.
Watching campaigns on kickstarter inspired me to give it a go. With quotes from both my graphic designer and printer, $4,000 would assure The Engaged Heart would go to print. I hope you will consider becoming a backer. There are lots of rewards; signed books, postcards, movie screenings.
Maybe you don't know what kickstarter is. It is a collective funder which vets a project, posts serious ones, and only pays out if the goal is met. In fact, if the goal not met, no one is charged for their pledge. Stop by, pick out a reward and make a pledge.
This is a wild ride but I already made my commitment. Seems I made it a long time ago! Thanks for pitching in and being a part of this latest adventure.
7/23/2003 A Buddhist Dream
Monks needed something to do. Or I want to go so far as to say that there are men and women whose hearts are spilling over with passion and have no place to spend it. There are men and women who have a burning desire to live with intention -- to know no meaningless breath -- to be fully engaged, awake, filled with purpose and part of a whole.
This level of passion never seeks rest from the spirit. The body dances and the mind spins in deference to the spirit, as the spirit is ruler, supreme choreographer, beloved whisperer. The passionate heart always chooses to listen. It is not that they have no choice. They have every choice and they choose spirit. It runs deeper than desire. It is not content with occasional service. It cannot live in patchwork fashion; serving one hour a day, one day a week or one step at a time. It requires fulltime dedication or fulltime mourning. It is a matter of depth that longs to be filled, longs to be spent. This passion must be of service. This passion wants to be integrated into society -- meeting needs -- developing new ways to address new problems. This passion is a lasting, reliable, sobering intoxicant.
I was dreaming. I am dreaming. It is a dream of Buddhist orders of American men and women who lead passionate lives of genuine integrated service. Warriors of light Teachers of stillness. Leaders of joyous clarity ñ building spiritual communities that are fully and fearlessly integrated into American life -- uplifting us all.
8/15/2003 Heart of
The 20th Century created a flood of information. To process and organize all of it, everything was reduced to smaller, more understandable components. People were categorized. Cells were classified. DNA was identified. It lead to great encyclopedic knowledge and terrible exploitation of atoms. A person was divvied up by specializing doctors proclaiming their turf; leaving us with a nightmare of trying to piece ourselves back together.
The 21st Century is the time to unite. It is time to see the forest, the overall effect, the whole of humanity, the integration of body, mind, soul and spirit. It is time to stand hand in hand; dissolving boundaries and drawing others into larger and larger circles of inclusion and integration. It is time to focus on what unites us: every study, every discipline, every phylum, every being, every molecule. It is time to embrace and hold dear every dissected isolated granule of life. It is time to recognize that the division of the last century, that lonely disparity, was merely an illusion and in reality everything and everyone is a unified whole joined together in infinite motion. Illuminated with prayer, meditation and understanding, the very things which separate will be the things which bring us together.
8/28/2003 American Buddhism
On my 55th birthday ~
First, I believe that my definition requires no agreement. Nor does yours. Second, Buddhism occurs from within a culture. It cannot be imported or exported. Historically, the imported forms always fade. Each culture creates its own form. It unfolds as their culture ages. India, China, Japan, Thailand and others slowly, elegantly unfolded their own Buddhism. Sects are not shards from a main teaching, but a genuine and relevant customization. Third, Buddhism involves the conscious construction (call it deconstruction or reconstruction) of the internal landscape. The mind is watched, organized, disciplined, controlled, emptied, filled and brightly lighted.
Finally, I believe that American Buddhism will not arrive via an ocean. No jet or ship or text or teaching will ultimately establish American Buddhism. It will unfold in the minds of Americans who integrate their practice within the context of their culture. It will be appropriate, natural, useful, unique, exquisite and it will be truly American. It is percolating tonight in the practice of thousands of Americans. I hope I live long enough to see it named.
The rotunda carnival was the same today with lots of crazy-making people and all the little fasters all in a row. For some reason, or no reason, we have been sitting in the exact same order every day. I am the last on the left which puts the elevator to my right. Throngs of people pour past me, most of them with food and drinks. We have placed ourselves precisely where and when people are on a mission for their lunch. I can smell it all, right down to the dill pickles.
And so we sit. The crowds buzz around us with their opinions and judgments, always just loud enough for us to hear clearly. They seem to be in two distinct groups. They hate us and think we are actually mad and wicked or they think we are sainted. Neither of them is true which leaves me feeling isolated and sad. It isn’t that I want them to know who I really am, but I want them to know that we are women, ordinary women. We are their sisters, aunts, mothers, wives, teachers, nurses, neighbors who are unrecognized and disregarded first class citizens. We are the seven who are here and the rest of us, the millions of us, are at work in factories, in hospitals, in schools and homes all over this country. Many women in America will make and eat dinner tonight because if they don’t, they will put themselves and their children in danger.
For some unknown reason I have woken up for two consecutive mornings dreaming of teaching completely developed, intricate and enticing classes. Deep in my soul I believe that I was born to teach religious studies and philosophy to young people, maybe I just keep incarnating during times like the Spanish Inquisition when teaching religion has not been a "healthy" or secure profession.
Friday I woke up pouring over the curriculum for Cross-Cultural Beliefs. This class studies the evolution of beliefs which unfold in countries and on continents. For example in India, it begins will Bon, leads to Vedanta, Hinduism and Islam with an examination of what happened during the British occupation and missions of Christianity. The course examines how beliefs actually transform within a culture; what caused the change, why was the previously held system open to change, did the growing complexity and diversity make life better? During the dream I was planning a week on the genesis of Australian beliefs, closing with a showing of Weir's The Last Wave about the white man's world clashing with the Aboriginals.
Today I woke up planning a course, The Examined Life and the Etiquette of Curiosity. The stated commitment was that no conclusions would be made in class. The point being that interrogation does not require action or that interrogation is the action. The class was not to lead the students to a certain choice or belief (such a when does life being) but rather to make it clear that to not ask is the true lapse of conscience. Like my first teaching job, this was a class of all boys. We began each day reading the local paper together, landing on a particular story to really analyze. I suppose head-butting would be on the burner for this week.
In both of these classes, chairs were arranged in a circle. That is something I did in 1971, having read the fascinating work of Edward T. Hall; The Hidden Dimension and The Silent Language. Today such things are revolutionary with dialog circles and cafes. But I think that ultimately we are all just trying to replace the extended family dinner table or the tribal counsel where conversations were the center of leadership, camaraderie, information and learning.
I have no idea why I have such dreams. They are my primary and life-long recurring ones. No matter the interpretation, the fact is that I grieve every day that schools are not teaching such classes. I sat in front of my TV last night wondering who are the people of Hamas and Hezbollah. What is in their hearts? Would I be one of them if I lived there? How is it that their god requires killing and dying. Will their culture become more deeply rooted in this vengeful idol or will death finally break so many hearts that their god will transform into an angel of comfort. I don't know. I just don't know.