Tomorrow morning, I’m going to the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in Woodacred, California, to join with over a hundred people from around the world who are embarking on a two-year “Community Dharma Leader Training.” (Having watched the late great TV show “Lost” with my daughter, I can’t help but think of it as the “Dharma Initiative.”) Sometimes, I think of it as volunteering for an impossible task–training to help create an awakened society. But at other times, I feel there is nothing more obvious or practical for me to do. It feels like it’s time–past time–to step out of the circle of Parabola, the circle of ideas, and get engaged. I want to learn what others care about. There will be people in this program who are fighting AIDS in South Africa, others trying to bring peace into the prisons. What great themes and practices and insights sustain and interest them? What is needed now? I also wanted to dare to live according to what I think of as “awakened values” — to find out how I might help bring a little peace and sanity to this suffering world. I was very touched by Roger Lipsey’s article on the extraordinary inner life of the great peacemaker Dag Hammarskjold in the current “Desire” issue of Parabola. It strikes me more and more powerfully, that life needs each of us, the world needs us. We are meant to contribute as we can, to contribute the little bit of truth or insight or understanding we may have to the world. We come to know our true natures and possibilities only by giving ourselves away, testing ourselves against the forces of the world. What is inside must shine out and what is outside must be taken in (and even maybe break our hearts) and finally maybe no inside and no outside, just one life. For now, maybe it’s enough to say that the world is on fire and I am volunteering to be trained to be one more pair of hands on the bucket brigade. To do otherwise just seems like a horrible way to grow old.