Lesson
1

The Great Turning

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An extraordinary moment

To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe is a wonder beyond words.

We have received an inestimable gift. To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe—to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it—is a wonder beyond words. And it is, moreover, an extraordinary privilege to be accorded a human life, with this self-reflexive consciousness which brings awareness of our own actions and the ability to make choices. It lets us choose to take part in the healing of our world.

The value of gratitude

Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.

In the Tibetan Buddhist path we are asked to pause before any period of meditative practice and precede it with reflection on the preciousness and brevity of human life. This reflection awakens in us the precious gift of the present moment––to seize this chance to be alive right now on Planet Earth.

See the Ashoka course Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind

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To us is granted the extraordinary privilege of being on hand: to take part, if we choose, in the Great Turning to a sustainable society. We can let life work through us, enlisting all our strength, wisdom, and courage, so that life itself can continue.

There is so much to be done, and the time is so short. We can proceed, of course, out of grim and angry desperation. But the tasks proceed more easily and productively from an attitude of thankfulness for life; it links us to our deeper powers and lets us rest in them. That is true as well for the Work that Reconnects, as presented in this course.

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