Wednesday, May 20, 2020

What makes it a civilization? (insight LA)

Trudy Goodman Kornfield (; Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
American anthropologist Margaret Mead with baby in Africa holding a doll (

Sunday Morning Practice Group with founding teacher Trudy Goodman (
Margaret Mead, what's the first sign of civilization? I bet it's pottery! - No. (
Help, I broke my leg and I can't swim!!!
A friend told me that anthropologist Margaret Mead was once asked by a student what she considered the first sign of civilization for a culture.

The student expected her to talk about clay pots or grinding stones. But Mead said that the first sign of civilization was a thighbone (femur) that had broken and healed.

Hold on...I just gotta check something first.
Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You can't run from danger, get to water to drink, or search for food… No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.

“A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts,” Mead said.

Partners Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman
In this spirit launched a community fund for "Giving Week" to offer a hand if anyone is experiencing hardship. Insight in Action programs have pivoted online to serve.

My heart is full, witnessing much goodness and beauty all over the world as people care for one another. I’m touched by participation with iACT to provide public health information so refugee camp leaders can prepare their communities, isolated from heath care, for the pandemic.

Mead loved the people she studied, and they loved her: Taking Note doc (

What if I could get my own film festival?
Several of us Insight in Action teachers have been working with iACT ( for a few years, traveling to refugee camps in Eastern Chad in Africa, Greece, and Cameroon to teach mindfulness skills. 

Yesterday my friend Oumda Tarbosh, a community leader who literally saved thousands of lives during Darfur's genocide, sent the following message to everyone. It’s especially poignant knowing how little food they have: 

We start to see big changes in the community, and I have a hope that the situation is going to be good. Refugees are knowing more [about] health and hygiene. Yesterday, I was doing mindfulness. I closed my eyes and… I started seeing my beloved brothers and sisters, friends and parents [dying] around the world[.] I don't know even [their] names... and my mind was changed. After a certain moment, I cried so much and start my prayer. Yesterday, I didn't eat food, my friends. So I encourage all supporters, donors, refugee camp leaders [for] all we are doing for our communities. I have a hope, together as one, we will win! Thank you all.

Why love all people? (
Together during this frightening time, we safeguard human flourishing and compassion for all beings everywhere, without exception. This is Teacher Appreciation Week. Please join me in gratitude for all dedicated teachers; gratitude is a powerful antidote to fear and sadness.

Cultural anthropology
Find a gratitude buddy at insightLA through our Digital Dharma Pals program. Helping each other through difficult times is where civilization starts – and where love flourishes!

Join me for a 6-night ONLINE retreat through Spirit Rock beginning on May 20th with Anam Thubten, James Baraz, and Jill White Lindsay. This is the only weeklong retreat I'm teaching in 2020!

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