Once a month, on the third Friday at 8 p.m., a group of people in Spokane use the downtown triangle to meditate or pray. Many cities in the world have started similar recurring “meditation flash mobs”. Some sit, some walk, some are Christian or Buddhist practitioners, some are bystanders and some have no religious affiliation. While individual reasons may vary, the basic idea is that folks from all walks of life can collectively intend to decrease harm, increase kindness, inclusion and understanding by taking time outs periodically to be together in silent meditation or contemplation.
Everyone is welcome, whether rich or homeless, a person of faith, or not of faith, gay or straight, left, or right; to join us to sit or walk together in silence, contemplation and mindfulness.This group is not an us-versus-them movement. Rather it promotes getting in touch and cultivating the unity and shared humanity one can sense before opposites and divisions arise, recognizing this can affect real-world outcomes. Some participants, inspired by the Arab spring, joined in solidarity to the world-wide protest movements that were seeking to be a voice for justice, fairness and accountability. We sense that in resolving divisive issues, it is helpful to first see past your group, ideological, and/or religious identification and identify as human first. This is cultivated and symbolized in the silence which precedes words. In that silence we can get in touch with the present, with the wonders of life and identify with each other. Recognizing that we have faults and shortcomings too, just like anyone else, so that the words and solutions that follow can be more constructive and inclusive. When we connect with each other on a deeper level, it is easier to find a workable middle ground that will enable us to work with each other to de-escalate harm in society, institutions and families.
I believe there are multiple reasons for doing this on the street. In a literal sense, we are meditating on the same ground and under the same roof, or sky we all share. By doing this on public space, not in a conventional place, such as a temple or church, we are promoting the symbol of unity and understanding we are all in this together, and we can solve the issues of our time together.This way can be more open and intimate, no costs are incurred, nor is any particular religious message or belief pushed towards those who pass by.
There is a lot of disagreement and division, and alienation in this country, in the world, in our families. Sometimes, we forget to look at ourselves from a larger view, looking deeper at who we are, and ask ourselves periodically, where we want to go as a human beings. What world do we want to leave behind for our grand, and great-grandchildren? What major direction and broad orientation can we all try to agree on, regardless of background and view? I don’t think we do this enough. Do we want to leave behind a world with more happiness, less suffering, a kinder, friendlier, more compassionate and wise human race? Wouldn’t that be much more preferable over one in which a large proportion of money and resources are spent on fear, greed, misunderstanding and punishment?
In the midst of careers, family life, distractions, left and right politics, we tend to forget that we are all in this together as humans, all fallible, all prone to make mistakes. But we also all have unique perspectives which often get unheard. If we recognize each other as fellow human beings first, branches on the tree of humanity, who can trace our off-shoots to the same root, we might be more able to incorporate creative solutions, respond, rather than react from pre-conceived conditioning, create constructive and fair incentives, systems and practices to be of benefit to humankind and a beneficial future for our descendants.
So this is a call to members of all religions, all viewpoints to come together an hour a month in a public space, and advocate a living symbol of humanity’s ability to mature into an understanding that for for this planet and humanity to prosper and grow. We need to take time to recognize our oneness as well as value our diversity. Please join us Friday, June 22, from 8 to 9 p.m. We would love for you to endorse this experiment on our Facebook page, even if you can't participate.