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Speeches From Graduation June, 2003

The Real Real Graduation Speech - Jeannie Linam

I can't tell you what an honor is to be up; up here, speaking to you today to convey a smidgeon of my experience here at ucs. and naropa. when I first mentioned to a friend of mine in Texas about speaking here, he said, that's easy that's: just tell them it has that it has transformed you life. that it has changed your life." and at first I was surprised; I couldn't see what he saw so easily; and now I see he's right.

I feel differently. I feel fuller, I have a broader sense of myself and a wider field of compassion. I remember speaking my friend here a few years ago, talking about our sense of identity, and& southerner and linam. and my actions reflected that limited sense of myself.
but this school has been a love tornadoes to my mobile home of complacency and limitation.
each class brought eureka moments and new illuminations that transformed my way of seeing.
with Marline's great class on Fem Awakening, I realized the vital wondrous powerful role the feminine has in healing our society today, and I added woman to my list. Because of that shift, I was called, to get involved with Code Pink , women for peace that led to some incredible marches and vigils in Washington Dc and amazingly, a meeting with Hillary Clinton. and more eureka moments in Gaels' great class on the state of our environment and planet, and I woke up to my role as a citizen of the wealthiest and most powerful country on the planet and the responsibility I feel that comes with that, and that shift led to a journey to south africa ..
then in the Matt's creation spirituality and cosmology courses, came my dawning understanding that we are the universe's attempts to reflect its own and that we are the hands and feet of the divine

What this opening is, and I can feel my heart opening, it's an unveiling of ourselves. This school is a call to pull off our blinders, to see reality as it is, to reveal ourselves and our own authenticity, our own inner wisdom. and it is also here in this incredible community, through the support of the rich relationships we have here, that we find the strength within ourselves to answer that call.

to heed one's calling is to live the life one is summoned to, not the life desired by our ego, our parents, or societal expectations. and it is scary to do that.

these were all calls that I could have said no to, just as we could have said no to the call of coming here. but we didn't . nor did we say know to the call to create beauty for our school an dour community, and make that mosaic. the strength that came from this community to make that mosaic was so magnificent.
it was a gift to witness the beauty that came from everyone, whether you mosaiced a star or gave your heart and time to sweeping-. the beauty was not only in the actual mosaic (and I feel like I can be bold and say that because I hardly made any of it), but the beauty in the community coming together- the commitment, the free massages, the impromptu dancing, the smile on the face of a homeless man who made a mosaic for first time;

look what we can do with the support of each other
it is here in this place, in this time, that we have been called to live our lives.
I want to say is how significant it is, and how blessed [immensely grateful] I feel, that we were here during this time of 9-11, and terrorism, and war. This school, and this community was an oasis and a bedrock of wisdom and compassion and clear-sightedness, , k, a oasis of wisdom and clear sightedness about these issues that kept me balanced, and awake, and with my ability to override my sense powerlessness about it al.

it seems to me that many higher learning institutions are means to an ends, are stepping stones on the way to achieve something else, but UCS is about how we live our lives. . It is not what we will do with this degree but who are we becoming?
some of us may not know what the next step is on our path, but I do know that by coming here to naropa, we are fully on the path, we being it. we are being our fullest selves, I believe this graduation, this mantle is a confirmation that we are stepping up to answer our call, with transformed vision and awareness, and , imagination.
I congratulate all of us for answering our call to come here to Naropa. and UCS and I wholehearted thank the staff and faculty here for answering your call to provide this fantastic environment for us.

Thank you .

- Jeannie Linam

Graduation Speech - Abraham Jackson

I remember two years ago when I began experiencing frustration regarding my career and personal life. I searched for a graduate program that would allow me to train for a profession in which I could assist others in their personal growth and development. After being accepted into two counseling programs, I stumbled onto Naropa Oakland, it was synchronicity. Immediately the curriculum resonated with me because I very much wanted to study human nature from a holistic perspective. I realized later the significance of entering a program that has a spiritual component to it. Spiritual practice is an essential tool for developing the whole person in whatever one's chosen profession, but these practices are of special use in healing professions. I have received far greater insight into human nature, coming to understand it as divine.
The process of education should be to draw out inner wisdom within each us, as Ralph Waldo Emerson so perfectly suggests "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." My studies at Naropa allowed me to explore deeply the fields of psychology, theology, science, arts and humanities. The outcome has been a shattering of false impressions. As with any change, resistance is inevitable but my studies changed my desire in the course of fulfilling them. The cost for peace is sometimes painful but education asks us to leave behind our old ways of thinking to embrace new ideas. In the process, insight creeps up on us quietly and we are forever transformed.
My transformation consists of a shift from independence to interdependence, from disintegration to wholeness. History teaches us that individual transformation brings about social transformation; such is the case with Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Naropa Oakland teaches us to explore our own inner landscape in order that we might transform the outer world in which we live. Understanding Spirituality as means for relating to all beings makes it essential for building community, for relationship is key to our existence.
My fellow students and I were reminded of our deep connection to others when during my first semester here the unforgettable event of 911 occurred, causing our nation to be confronted with unprecedented emotional paradox. Since that time many of our personal and cultural values have been questioned. Naropa provides a milieu in which students are able to discuss openly, in doing so we are able to discover our own place in the vast web of existence. In the past two years I have discovered that my own spiritual exploration has given me far greater abilities to process some of life's most serious predicaments and to work to assist others in discovering their path. Our class discussions have deepened my connection to community in extraordinary ways; Naropa's strong emphasis on writing enabled me to reflect on spirituality devoid of dogma. These reflections allowed me to develop a new paradigm for what it means to be compassionate.
I have discovered that compassion is the most pervasive of all principles because compassion permits us to connect deeply with others. Feeling with another dissolves ego identities and eliminates imagined barriers and boundaries. I experienced compassion willingly one day during my studies when I became thou, as is often the experience with compassion. On this particular day we met to feed homeless people as a lesson in community building. Upon our arrival, my initial perception was that these people had disregard for us. We had the audacity to get out of our warm beds on this one occasion to do our noble deed. What difference are we making? However, as I began to mingle and be with these individuals I learned we had more in common than I realized and my volunteering was about much more than just providing a service. It was about uplifting and celebrating humanity. It was about celebrating our divinity. So it is when we integrate compassion into our moment-to-moment activity, we liberate ourselves from a perceived sense of separation.
In the words of Matthew Fox "Our creativity in all instances is to be put to the use of compassion." If we are to truly learn to heal the social anomalies that plague our culture today, we must learn to unleash inner creativity to find diverse ways to express goodness. It is the unleashing of creativity that will provide solutions for healing disconnection. "Today, without reservation, I fling the doors of creativity wide open and express my life's intention to the fullest."
Completion of this program footnotes an awesome journey in self-discovery only to discover that my self, at the most subtle levels, is intricately linked to all every other beings. Fundamentally, This means that to live my authentic life I help to heal the community at large. Healing myself heals my community, healing my community heals my nation, healing my nation heals the planet, healing the planet heals the universe, and healing the universe heals creation. Today, I am assured that my fellow students would agree, we depart this university not only with a credential of achievement but also with some very practical methods for reinventing the world in which we live.

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