Category Archives: Wisdom Teachings

The Mindful Life: Awakening World Dharma: Finding Liberation Through Living

Written by Anahata Giri, www.oneheartyoga.com.au
Impressions from a talk by Alan Clements

“Never been done before freedom” – Alan Clements

Alan Clements is an author, activist and meditation teacher and trained with Mahasi Sayadaw and U Pandita in Burma. He is passionate about humans rights and has been a long-time supporter of Burma’s nonviolent campaign for freedom, justice, and democracy. Alan co-authored The Voice of Hope, a collection of conversations with Burma’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

It is a personal passion of mine to bring our spiritual practice into the world, so I was looking forward to hearing the insights of someone who has fully lived a potent combination of spiritual practice and social change.

We are an intimate audience of less than 40 people, poised expectantly as Alan Clements introduces his talk as a distillation of his meditation practice since 1968, more than 40 years. He talks clearly, passionately and is naturally articulate, with fluid gestures and expressive hands. Continue reading The Mindful Life: Awakening World Dharma: Finding Liberation Through Living

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Carry Me,’ by Peter Behrens

The narrator in Peter Behrens’s 2011 novel “The O’Briens” speaks of “a restless instinct in the family, an appetite for geography and change.” The German couple at the center of his new novel, “Carry Me,” share a similar, near-mystical pull toward the American landscape they read about in their youth. “In my most daring ­fantasies,” Billy writes decades later of the woman he loved, “she and I were riding across boundless open country together, Texas or New Mexico, under wide blue sky.” This yearning sounds through the novel’s pages like a refrain, and it will deliver Billy Lange and Karin ­Weinbrenner, though not wholly intact, from the terror of Kristallnacht to the untamed promise of the American West.

PeterBehrensOf Irish-German extract, Billy’s an outsider wherever he finds himself. He knows suspicion and discrimination as a boy in Ireland and England, where his German father was interned during World War I. Now in Frankfurt in 1938, Billy works for the export sales department at the chemical firm IG Farben. He is an observant and deferential narrator for the most part, and in love with Karin, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish industrialist for whom his father has worked for decades. Karin’s distant and oblique presence haunts him; she is perhaps lesbian and, Behrens hints, quite possibly in love with a popular female scriptwriter in Berlin.

When Billy gets Karin pregnant, the prospect of bringing “one more ­German” and “some sort of Jew” into the world weighs on them. “We were jumpy from doubts, fears, dreams of America, the prospect of ourselves as parents.” Structured around the autumn of 1938 as they organize passage to America, the narrative wanders back in time to excavate lengthy tracts of family history that hobble the novel’s pacing a bit. (Archival documents loaded between sections, said to be housed in “Special Collections, McGill Library, McGill University,” seem especially adrift, uncommented on as they are by a narrator who is in a position these many years later to offer analysis and context.) But the weeks leading into Kristallnacht tighten the focus, and it’s here that Billy becomes a fully engaged protagonist. Karin’s father, trapped in a coma after being set upon by a gang of thugs, is the last obstacle between the lovers and their dream of the American West. Only a terrible act of mercy will guarantee their freedom.

Behrens captures his narrator’s naïveté and the casual anti-Semitism of the times with great skill and intelligence. Billy remembers that in the years before the full catastrophe of the age pronounced itself, “we were mostly concerned with ourselves, each of us with sex, love, loneliness probably foremost in our minds.” Contrasts expose striking truths. When he witnesses a Hitler rally in Heidelberg on the same day he loses his virginity to a prostitute, his mind is not focused on momentous historical pronouncements. He’s a kid who’s just scored, after all. “After the first 10 minutes or so I gave up trying to listen. I tuned Herr Hitler out, watched bats fluttering around the rafters, scanned the crowd for my companions and daydreamed exciting sex with Lilly.” As he stares into the eyes of history he sees, instead of portent and impending chaos, little more than his own yearnings, which seems to me as true an observation about human nature as there is.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 2.24.22 PMJoin Peter Behrens for Memory & Myth: Transforming Personal History October 14 – 19, 2016.

The Deeper Spiritual Purpose of Pets

By Robert Schwartz, who will be presenting Your Soul’s Plan: The Spiritual Meaning of Your Life at Hollyhock on September 11-14, 2016.

The process of placing our energy within a body, and in so doing forgetting that we are vast, majestic, Divine Beings made literally from the energy of Unconditional Love, is akin to being struck on the head by a heavy tree branch and rendered unconscious, only to awaken with no memory whatsoever. What would happen if you actually had such an experience? All who love you, each member of your family, every dear friend, would come to your side and express great love for you. Though you would recognize none of them, their powerful outpouring of concern and affection would touch you deeply. You would conclude that only a truly loving person could be so beloved. And in that instant of realization, you would know, beyond any doubt, your true nature.

Continue reading The Deeper Spiritual Purpose of Pets

8 Laws of Change

By Stephan Schwartz, who will be presenting Opening to the Infinite at Hollyhock on Sept 28 – Oct 2, 2016.

If change comes down to 8 laws, could you employ them to make real change? A science-based strategy for achieving enduring wellness-oriented change on a personal, societal, and global Level, these 8 laws of behavior enable any person or small group – even ordinary people without great wealth, official position, or physical power – to bend the arc of history to create successful lasting life-affirming transformation.


As anthropologist Margaret Mead so famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Ultimately it gets down to individual choice. Everything starts with one person holding an intention and making decisions expressing that intention. As that person’s beingness changes, as a consequence even the most unlikely person can become enormously powerful. This process constitutes one of the least understood social forces in our world.

Continue reading 8 Laws of Change

Horse Wisdom

By Oriane Lee Johnston
Feature Image Source: Sandra Wallin, Chiron’s Way
Join Sandra & Oriane Lee in Vancouver for Horse Wisdom on September 9, 2017.

I have given my friends, Hollyhock co-founders Charles Steinberg and Torkin Wakefield, an Equine Guided Learning session as an anniversary present. This morning the three of us are in a big grassy paddock on Cortes Island. Six horses are grazing with their heads down in the summer warmth. Charles asks for a reflection about the HIV treatment project he has been working with in Kampala, Uganda. “What now?” he wonders, “How can we continue to best serve what is needed, in that community and beyond?”

images-4Sid, the mature Norwegian fjord gelding, has been moving imperceptibly as he grazes, circling in a spiral toward us. When the horse is about five feet away, Charles notices Sid’s presence, falls silent, and turns to face the horse broadside.

Continue reading Horse Wisdom