Day 25 @EDE Class: Personal and Planetary Health, Our Artwork, the Community

Sep 20, 2018

The morning routine of the “Culture Week” is richer and longer, compared to the previous 3 weeks of EDE class. We do announcement at the beginning of the class, if anyone feels something important to share. Then, attunement, usually a combination of body exercise and meditation. Such routine is a design, as the class of this week is dealing with culture and spirituality. Since it’s close to the end of the entire EDE class, giving time for reflection and gathering inner strength can be helpful. And it’s not surprising to notice that some members are getting worn out 🙂 . Lighthearted games or meditative exercises help extend stamina a little bit.

In a game: you pass an imaginary ball to the next person in whatever posture that matches your mood at the moment. People showed great creativity when competing to make an impressive transfer. (photo by the author)
Massage is another game that people enjoyed a lots. And it works most effectively towards the end of a session 🙂 . (photo by ZHU Yu)

The Samsara Film

We watched a part of the Samsara (2011 film, Wiki), a US made documentary film that looks into human spirituality and experience, at some points through the cruel reality of our animal farming and meat processing industries. Many in the class, myself included, watched this film for the first time. Though the theme wasn’t entirely unfamiliar, many said they were stunned.

How our personal and planetary health are connected? What are the root causes of the problems? How could we improve the health of both human and the Earth? We discussed these questions afterwards.

We reflected on and discussed the film afterwards. (photo by the author)

I find some highlights from people’s comments here representing an interesting sample of diverse mindset here. (In respect of individuals, sources of the quote are not identified.)

  • “I have been re-considering the meaning of work. It shouldn’t be merely about making a living.”
  • “In China, you need to succeed by becoming the rule-setting player. “
  • “Ecovillage is a process, not a final goal. The concept and framework (of ecovillage) help us think how we can achieve a more sustainable world.”
  • Ecological civilization is a social movement. We should avoid society division, namely the divide between the elite and the grassroot. Let’s recognize that it is the grassroot that’s the most creative force. We also need to be careful about populistic egalitarianism, which has its root in our traditional culture. In the era of this societal transformation, every part of the society needs to be engaged.

Compassion with detachment

When I was helping with translation for “Seeing with new eyes” session, I couldn’t help but spoke for myself in Chinese to explain the design of the exercise. Trudy stopped me.

I explained to her that I noticed some students were not taking the group exercise seriously, which is a carefully designed process to guide them to talk about an issue of concern from multiple perspectives and to listen to others quietly (acknowledging whatever perspective they heard). “Don’t take that responsibility with you.” Trudy advised me.

Trudy, our teacher, was lecturing. I (on her left) was helping with translation.  (photo by ZHU Yu)

For most people and myself, the transformation from knowing what’s right to do to behaving right doesn’t happen instantaneously. But let people transform at their own pace. The teacher is merely a facilitator of the process. You own neither the process nor the outcome. To let go, you would need compassion with detachment. This is the most important personal takeaway from the day. My mind kept returning to it after the class and till next day. Isn’t it a powerful tool that we can have to deal with disagreement and disengagement in various types of relationships?

Our artwork – when we see with new eyes

“When we see with new eyes”, group painting #1. (photo by the author)

If you are reading this blog from your mobile phone, try turning your phone horizontally 90 degrees at a time, and looking at this picture from the angle of each of the 4 corners. Can you notice something special? Yes, the painting was created from 4 dimensions simultaneously. Elements were added till they joined at the center of the canvas (paper).

“When we see with new eyes”, group painting #2. (photo by the author)

These beautiful, somewhat childishly creative 🙂 paintings are made by a bunch of grown-ups inspired by the patterns of leaves, flowers and trigs they picked up from the garden outside. Students grouped in four and each group worked on one canvas together, kneeling or sitting on the floor. Each member started from one corner, then turned the canvas horizontally for a quarter of a circle to draw on another corner, building on what’s there.

“When we see with new eyes”, group painting #3. (photo by the author)
“When we see with new eyes”, group painting #4. (photo by the author)
“When we see with new eyes”, group painting #5. (photo by the author)


The Community

The living community, our class, continues to evolve. We still don’t agree with each other, which will always be so. Some don’t like some others. Subgroup cultures have emerged. However, we are getting more used to the difference between each other. We recognize that both ourselves and others are transforming, more or less, through the class. And we appreciate what we still share in common.

Before our volunteer photographer, ZHU Yu (second from left sitting on the curb),  had to return home early, someone suggested we should take a group picture. So, we have this wonderful memory. My blogs for this EDE class use many photos from ZHU Yu. Big thanks and hugs here! (photo shared by ZHU Yu)

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