Greetings from San Francisco. Did anyone else feel like 5% of your mental energy came back after the election results came out? I feel a lot more clarity of mind. I hope you're experiencing something similar.
Over this past year, I’ve been on an advisory board for the Namchak Foundation. They are an organization focused on sharing the oldest forms of Tibetan Buddhist practice. Their goal is to make their teachings accessible to Westerners.
I joined this board by accident. I had a meaningful experience at one of their weekend retreats in Oakland last year. I enjoyed it so much, I started to pester the event organizers to find out how I can get involved. A few months later, through a series of conversations which I later realized were interviews, I was in a board meeting with people that have trained with the Dalai Lama.
These quarterly board meetings have been a refreshing change of pace from work meetings. I think that’s why they like me to join. I bring a bit of rigour, process, and prioritization that is sometimes hard to find with such peaceful human beings. It’s been a powerful experience to have a direct connection with these folks.
A few weeks ago we had a weekend retreat. I was a bit hesitant about it. I mean, how impactful could a retreat through Zoom really be? I was pleasantly surprised.
In the backdrop of a prolonged election, the organization brought in folks from all of the country. Like Jules who recently moved to Jackson City, Kansas to be with her boyfriend whose stationed in a nearby military base. Or Wayne who moved from SF to Florida to live in her childhood home; a place she had yet to be since her mother passed away a year ago. Or Yvonne from New York whose passion for social work and racial equality left you in tears. There were people from all areas of the country. In a time where we are politically divided, it was surprising to find connection with people that openly spoke about voting for Trump.
The theme of the weekend was interconnectedness. It's an important concept for us to grasp today. How can we rebuild in a country that is so divided? Where each side barely knows one another. One we can’t understand people unless we put away judgement and seek to connect. It’s never been more important.
Along this theme of interconnectedness, there were a few other concepts that stood out to me. One of those was the concept of Ubuntu.
Ubuntu: “I am because you are”
This is an African saying. Specifically from the Zulu tribe in South Africa. Nelson Mandela put the concept of Ubuntu into the constitution after apartheid as a framework to create policies for the new liberated South African country.
“A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn't have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and attend him. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not address themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve yourself?” - Nelson Mandela
Ubuntu has started to make its ripples in the west. Elizabeth Bagley, who worked in Obama’s administration in the State Department outlined “Ubuntu Diplomacy” as the future of foreign relations.
"We are truly all in this together, and we will only succeed by building mutually beneficial partnerships among civil society, the private sector, and the public sector, in order to empower the men and women executing our foreign policy to advance their work through partnerships. The truth and reconciliation council believed in the philosophy of Ubuntu because they believed that Ubuntu was going to help to reform and reconnect the already broken country of South Africa. This is Ubuntu Diplomacy: where all sectors belong as partners, where we all participate as stakeholders, and where we all succeed together, not incrementally but exponentially"- Elizabeth Bagley
The focus here is to remember we are all one. We are all interconnected. Because we are interconnected, we should be altruistic to help one another. If we’re helping others, we’re helping ourselves. From my own experience, altruism has been a tool to increase the likelihood of my own happiness. We are social creatures and are wired to help each other. Our neurological response gives us a positive jolt if we do good things for others. Why not lean into that? So remember, if you want happiness for yourself, for people close to you, and in society - think of Ubuntu. I am because you are.
Till next time,