Below is an email I just sent out to my friends…

Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you in good spirits! I wanted to share some exciting news! The American Embassy School is one of five schools in the world participating in “Project Happiness” which is an initiative supported by the Dalai Lama Foundation that seeks to inspire and empower young people to create greater happiness in themselves and in the world. When you get a chance check out: http://projecthappiness.com/tv/en/school_109.jsp and click on media and you will be able to watch films my students have made about “happiness.” Last March, when His Holiness was giving his teachings in Delhi I was fortunate enough to meet with some Board Members of the Foundation and they told me about Project Happiness.

I leave for Bhutan on November 22nd to attend the Fourth Annual Gross National Happiness Conference in Thimpu and will be there for 8 days. At the conference, I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts on what an Ethical, Ecological, Spiritual approach to education may entail and some of the educational activities I’ve crafted for my students (including showing the films they have made for Project Happiness). I will send out a full report once the conference ends. Yay! Thanksgiving in Bhutan!

As usual, all in Delhi is both exciting and busy! Many of you know that Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh was in India for 37 days and I was lucky enough to spend close to 20 days in his presence including two life changing retreats (lots to share about this in the next months). Tomorrow we will have our first “Day of Mindfulness” since Thay’s visit at Teen Murti House (Nehru’s residence). This weekend Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, the Bhutanese Lama, film maker and writer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khyentse_Norbu) will be giving a teaching and on Monday there will be a talk on how climate change is affecting the “Third Pole” with Dr. John Stanley, Dr. Vandana Siva and Mrs. Sunita Naraian (Rajiv Mehrotra will be moderating). I’m also very pleased to announce that on December 2nd Satish Kumar will be visiting the American Embassy School and my colleague Gene and I have put together an exciting program—our students can’t wait to meet him and there will be an open event for adults in the evening. For more information just send me an email if you are not on my cultural event list. We are also very happy that our trip to take students from AES to Bija Vidya Peeth (http://www.navdanya.org/bija/index.htm) has been rescheduled for mid-February (it was cancelled in October due to all the bombings). I believe we might be the first student group to visit the farm/ecological learning center in Dehradun and my colleague Gene and I are very excited about this!  

I’ll be in Pune (Osho Ashram), Aurangabad, and Bodhgaya (two courses at the Roots Institute) from December 18 – January 5 and will hopefully see many of you before then. Below is a beautiful letter written by Alice Walker to Barack Obama. Our Democrats Abroad celebrations last week in Delhi were unforgettable and inspirational! Sending all of you love, light and warmth from New Delhi!

With All My Heart,

Meena

 

 

 

Open Letter to Barack Obama from Alice Walker

Nov. 5, 2008

 

 

Dear Brother Obama,

 

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

 

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

 

I would further advise you not to take on other people’s enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people’s spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

 

A good model of how to “work with the enemy” internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

 

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

 

In Peace and Joy,

Alice Walker

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