9-3 The Kingdom of Heaven

Rifkin Reading:

1. “One can also empathize with another’s joy” (Rifkin 178).

I had to read this sentence twice when I first read it, because even though I understood what it was saying, I felt a distinct distance to it. Every time I think of “empathy,” I consider it in relation to suffering or hardship, perhaps due the word’s popular use in society in conjunction with pain. A part of me wonders if this connection stems from Clinton’s popularization of the phrase “I feel your pain” or instead from our competitive society in which we are constantly comparing ourselves/compared to one another. In such a society, are we subconsciously resistant to feeling another’s joy because we are jealous of their joy? Perhaps that’s too cynical.

2. “New teaching models designed to transform education from a competitive contest to a collaborative learning experience are emerging as schools attempt to catch up to a generation that has grown up on the internet and is used to interacting and learning in open social networks where they share information rather than hoard it” (Rifkin 179).

Coming from a small private school where competition ran wild among AP classes, I would love for schools to cultivate a collaborative learning environment. However, I fail to see how this really connects to a generation which “collaborates” on the Internet, as the internet is just another form of potential competition concerning who has the funniest Twitter post, the prettiest Instagram photo, or the best news on Facebook. At the same time, such mediums have the greatest chance of reaching a wide audience, potentially expanding the possibility for empathy. For example, the KickStarter website allows people to promote their ideas, projects, or needs and ask for donations.


Tolle Reading:

3. “On the surface, acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it is active and creative because it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, that subtle energy vibration, is consciousness, and one of the ways in which it enters this world is through surrendered action, one aspect of which is acceptance” (226).

I never thought of acceptance as something active, but in Tolle’s explanation, I see how one can choose to accept something, thus achieving peace, rather than perpetuating negative thoughts. I wonder, however, if there is a time frame to such acceptance. While I can foresee myself entering a state of acceptance concerning a tire change, I question whether I can achieve similar acceptance concerning a bad job choice.

4. “The ‘waiting to start living’ syndrome is one of the most common delusions of the unconscious state” (226).

In the context of short and long time spans, I have suffered under this syndrome. Throughout the week, I often tell myself I can enjoy myself (I can fully live) on the weekends when I don’t have school. At the same time, I tell myself that after I graduate college and find a good job, I can truly live, for I’ll have the money and time to do so. It can be difficult to be in the present moment, to acknowledge that you are living right now, when “right now” is doing homework. I think such difficulty arises from my inflated notions of what it means to live and enjoy myself, as they usually revolve around financial and emotional security. In high school, I had a religion teacher who each day asked us to sit still for five minutes and acknowledge our physical and mental place in the space we currently inhabited. While I haven’t done this practice in years, I think Tolle would approve.

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