another excerpt from Mark Nepo
Ubuntu – I am because you are, you are because I am. . .
– A Deep African Way of Being
In the winter, I met a man in South Africa. After several days together, I asked him about Ubuntu. He said, “It is a deep African custom.” He did not explain, but rather repeated its meaning, more slowly and with deeper reverence. “It means . . . I am because you are; you are becaue I am . . . Ubuntu.”
It is something I have always believed in, that in the ignited space of our deepest suffering, in the release of our deepest fears, in the familiar peace of our deepest joys, we are each other. I felt it in the cancer rooms, in the eyes of burdened mothers sitting across from me, none of us wanting the dark things growing inside . . . Ubuntu.
I have been finding it in every path, in every way . . . in Martin Buber’s sense of I-Thou, where only in keeping what is-between-us real can God appear . . . in the gift of Jesus, where two or more of you come together, there I am . . . in the one compassion of Buddha . . . in the numinous love that ancient stones emanate if we are still enough to bow to them. Ubuntu . . . I am because you are, even in in how we live off the breath of plants; you are because I am, even in in how plants live off our exhalations.
I remember – years after Robert helped me survive cancer, after I helped him survive alcohol – I remember the two of us in a small park eating sandwiches with numb fingers, like little damaged birds, and Robert raised his head suddenly and said, “I have had cancer,” and I took his hand and offered in return, “And I have been an alcoholic.” Ubuntu . . . how we need each other to be complete.
- Sit quietly in a public place until your breath and the air you are breathing feel like one.
- Breathe steadily until your heart and the hearts of those around you feel like one.
- Keep breathing slowly until you feel, with each breath, the interconnectedness of all life.