Browsing Category "Activism"
9 Oct
2018
Posted in: Activism, Social Justice
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And then from Here….

From Duties of Heedfulness, a talk by Ajahn Sucitto:

“Whenever you feel yourself getting pulled, that’s the most important time for you to pause. And you can pause for just something like twenty seconds, or a minute, and ask: Where am I now?

“Not: What should I do?

“But: Where am I now?

“You may say, I’m in a restaurant. I’m in an office.

“No, that’s just what it looks like. That’s what your eyes can see. That’s what your thinking mind can tell you.

“The question is: Where do you feel your presence? Where is your presence now?

“Presence is a sense of firmness, of stability. It’s always here. And it’s always being dissipated into the sense fields. So when I say: Where are you now, it’s not really asking for a verbal response, it’s just pointing to the quality of the citta — Awareness as Presence.

“We can notice the trembling, or the questioning or the feelings or sensations… They’re all moving and changing… Meanwhile, as one is acknowledging the moving and changing, what is it that acknowledges the moving and changing?

“Presence. The sense of presence, of citta, as a simple quality of being…

“Within this realm of sights and sounds and thoughts and energies and emotions and pushes and pulls and moods and impressions…. Presence is Here.

“Take your time with that.

“This is Being. Being is always exactly the same. Being doesn’t change in time. Being is not the person. Being is not the moods. Being is not the thoughts. Being is not the activities.

“Being is just being — Here. And that’s a refuge. That’s an island, in the middle of the stream. That’s an island in the middle of the flood. And you can return to that.

And then from Here: What’s useful? What’s important? What is the most skillful thing to do, at this particular time?”

***

Yes, what indeed!

Tomorrow is the last day for Missouri residents to register to vote in the November 6th election. Are you registered? Want to check, just to make sure? Go to vote.org.

And then keep on going from there.

4 Oct
2018

Do Not Ignore…

Note: The following was previously published as a Full Moon Reflection by the Forest Sangha on August 26:

Do not ignore the effects of evil,
saying, “This will come to nothing”.
Just as by the gradual fall of raindrops
the water jar is filled,
so in time fools are corrupted by evil-doing.

(Dhammapada v. 121)

“It is wise to remind ourselves that we usually don’t see how habits are formed. Perhaps we think that it doesn’t matter when we turn a blind eye to somebody else’s unethical conduct. But after a few times of choosing to ‘not notice’ what’s going on, we can find that we have grown used to such conduct – we’ve become somewhat insensitive.

“A more skilful approach is to fully register how witnessing abuse or corruption affects us, in the whole body-mind, and to study our reactions. It is appropriate to feel averse towards that which is improper; aversion only turns into hatred when we cling to it, when we identify with it.

Hatred is always to be avoided and never to be acted upon, but let’s not be so afraid of it that we become blind. We must protect our sensitivity, feel fully what we feel, and learn to not ‘become’ those feelings.”

25 Sep
2018
Posted in: Activism, Sangha at Large
By    Comments Off on Want to Know How You Can Help?

Want to Know How You Can Help?

I’m posting this today (on National Voter Registration Day) in case you haven’t already receive an email message from Jack Kornfield or one of the other 130 or more Buddhist teachers (see below) who are asking for your help in getting folks registered to vote (starting with yourself, of course!) in advance of the important election coming up in November.

***

“As long as followers of the Way gather together and meet in harmony can they be expected to prosper and not decline. As long as followers of the Way care for the vulnerable among them can they be expected to prosper and not decline. As long as followers of the Way tend the sacred places in their environment can they be expected to prosper and not decline.” ~ MahaParinirvana Sutra

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

This is a critical time in American society. As Buddhist teachers and leaders we recognize the importance of all who are eligible to participate in decisions that affect the well being of the whole. A mutual caring community is one of the central teachings of the Buddha.

Many have wondered what you can do at this divisive time. Across the country, tens of millions of eligible voters do not cast their vote – often because they don’t believe their voice matters!

We are joining together with Faith In Action, a NON PARTISAN group of churches, mosques, synagogues and faith communities to help make sure all who are eligible are supported to vote.

We joyfully encourage all in our communities who can help in these weeks ahead to connect with Faith in Action by clicking this LINK. There you will find support and training so that in your area you can help get people out to vote.

Express your commitment and respect for the innate dignity and worth of all. Help to empower the voice of the whole community as a truly important contribution.

You can really make a difference! Please join us.

With loving kindness, compassion and blessings,

Yours in the Dharma,

Jack Kornfield
Sharon Salzberg
Joseph Goldstein
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
David Loy
Sayadaw U Vivekananda
Lama Surya Das
Lama Palden Alioto
Thanissara & Kittisaro
Trudy Goodman
Bob Thurman
William Aiken
Chozen & Hogen Bays
Rev. Bup Hee
Lama Willa Miller
Oren Jay Sofer
Marcia Rose
Neesha Patel
Tara Mulay
Rodney Smith
Pamela Weiss
Sharda Rogell
Kamala Masters
Jill Shepherd
Bonnie Duran
James Baraz
Devin Berry
Anna Douglas
Spring Washum
Carol Wilson
Larry Yang
Kate Lila Wheeler
Susie Harrington
Wes Nisker
Eugene Cash
Chris Crotty
Dawn Mauricio
Gulwinder S. Singh
Tempel R. Smith
Parwan Bareja
Phillip Moffitt
Noliwe Alexander
Andrea Castillo
Tere Abdala
Andrea Fella
Jim Willems
Mitchell Ratner
Eiko Joshin Carolyn Atkinson
Karl Brunnholzl
Kate Johnson
Melissa Myōzen Blacker, Rōshi
Arinna Weisman
Jules Shuzen Harris Sensei
James Myosan Cordova, Sensei
Alexis Santos
Rev. Edward Keido Sanshin Oberholtzer
John Tarrant, Roshi
Kanzan Bruce Fortin
Thanissara
Jundo Cohen
Pamela Ayo Yetunde
Gyokuko Carlson
Rev. Ronald Kobata
Tara Brach
Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Gil Fronsdal
Kenjitsu Nakagaki
Bhante Katugastota Uparatana Nayaka Thera
Sylvia Boorstein
Sojun Mel Weitsman
Judy Lief
Hozen Alan Senauke
Gina Sharpe
Konda Mason
Dharmacarani Vimalasara
Barbara Gates
Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron
Jeff Haozous
Mary Grace Orr
Lama Döndrup
Howard Cohn
Pat Berube, Lama Pat
Lama Stephen Gross
Leslie Booker
Matthew Brensilver
Kate Johnson
Diana Winston
Debra Chamberlin Taylor
Lynn Weinberger
Erin Treat
Erin Selover, MS
Shastri Nick Kranz
Madeline Klyne
Daniel Rothberg
Devon Hase
Chris Cullen
Melvin McLeod
Adin Strauss
Furyu Schroeder
Annik Brunet
Rev. Tenzen David Zimmerman
DaRa Williams
Gregory Scharf
Anne Cushman
Valorie Hutson
Ruth King
Karen Maezen Miller
Rev. James Ishmael Ford
Rev. Sumi Loundon Kim
Ed Sattizahn
Karma Lekshe Tsomo
Rev. Grace Schireson
Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison
Sensei Chodo Campbell
Jisan Tova Green
Rev. Rosan O. Yoshida, Ph.D.
Layla Smith Bockhorst
Eihei Peter Levitt
Rebecca Li
Myogen Kathryn Stark
Narayan Helen Liebenson
Flint Sparks
Harrison Blum
Sebene Selassie
Shaku Kengu
7 Aug
2018
Posted in: Activism
By    Comments Off on Just Saying…

Just Saying…

19 Jul
2018
Posted in: Activism, Books, Racism
By    Comments Off on There Will Come a Time

There Will Come a Time

This is what I have learned from working with my dharma friends on Waking Up to Whiteness: It’s necessary to recognize the reality of racism; it’s important to want racism to end.

But it won’t end until: “I’m not a racist,” turns into: “I’m antiracist. Antiracism is one of my core values. My actions in the world are based on that.”

In support of which, I offer this except from Stamped from the BeginningThe Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi:

An antiracist America can only be guaranteed if principled antiracists are in power, and then antiracist policies become the law of the land, and then antiracist ideas become the common sense of the people, and then the antiracist common sense of the people holds those antiracist leaders and policies accountable.

“And that day is sure to come. No power lasts forever. There will come a time when Americans will realize that the only thing wrong with Black people is that they think something is wrong with Black people.

“There will come a time when racist ideas will no longer obstruct us from seeing the complete and utter abnormality of racial disparities. There will come a time when we will love humanity, when we will gain the courage to fight for an equitable society for our beloved humanity, knowing, intelligently, that when we fight for humanity, we are fighting for ourselves.

“There will come a time. Maybe, just maybe, that time is now.” 

***

I am committed to that.

27 Mar
2018
Posted in: Activism
By    Comments Off on No Small Thing

No Small Thing

Today I want to point everyone to a fabulous resource for support, encouragement, and really practical help for those of us who all of a sudden (beginning Nov 8, 2016) felt compelled to DO SOMETHING!!!! but didn’t really know WHAT to do or HOW to do it!

It’s a site called: Small Deeds Done and it’s a weekly blog (a Pep Talk!) that’s delightful to read and lovely to look at — and that also includes a task list of timely actions that are ACTUALLY DO-ABLE by previously-non-activist activists (like me).

***

Many thanks to you, my friend, (you know who you are) for turning me on to this site!
Sadhu. Sadhu. Sadhu. 

3 Oct
2017
Posted in: Activism, Webcasts
By    Comments Off on To Know It and to Respond

To Know It and to Respond

Last night I “attended” (via live webcast) this week’s Monday Night Dharma Talk and Meditation Group held in the new Community Building at Spirit Rock. This week’s teacher was Phillip Moffitt and after introducing himself, he acknowledged the mass shooting in Las Vegas that had just been reported and said:

“I want to start the evening with a recognition that this has occurred because in our Buddhist practice, we don’t turn from dukkha. We “stand under” dukkha. We accept the truth of dukkah as part of this existence in this realm, AND we cultivate the appropriate response to it.

“Sometimes that response would be our ‘non-participation’. Sometimes it would be activism of one kind or another. Sometimes it would be raising our voice, sometimes writing letters, sometimes it would be taking to the streets….whatever would be appropriate.

“Sometimes it’s just caring for those who are experiencing the dukkah. Sometimes it’s being political. Sometimes it’s being willing to witness and saying ‘NO! This is not what we are capable of being as a culture. No. NO.

“So with your creativity, in your friendships, in your community — be willing to stand under the great pressure of this and at the same time say: ‘I witness this and in any way possible, I will not help to perpetuate it.’

“What has happened is just one more of what is now such a common occurrence in our culture. This is unique in the entire world. There is no other culture that produces mass killings in this way. It is unique to us and therefore it is ours to bear.”

Phillip then asked the audience to stand, or to kneel, or bow their heads, or whatever they wished in order to ‘bear witness’, that is to ‘stand under’ and be willing to know in their hearts that this is true, that this has occurred, and also to hold in their hearts those that have been injured, those that have died, and all the families — to hold them all in great compassion. To hold them in compassion and to ‘stand under’ the truth that is is happening, that this is happening in OUR country, OUR society, OUR culture.

The audience then stood, or kneeled, or bowed…and then Phillip began by ringing the big bell at the front of the hall, which was then followed by several other members of the audience ringing bells that they had been given…then back to Phillip ringing the front bell again and then back to the other bell ringers, and then on and on, again and again, until Phillip finished with a final bell, and then stood in silence until all the sounds came to rest.

***

May we bear this, which is ours to bear. And may the great pressure of this move us to respond appropriately.

18 Sep
2017
Posted in: Activism, Racism, Social Justice
By    Comments Off on Peace is the Way

Peace is the Way

This is one of the (many) boarded-up windows of the shops and restaurants in the Loop that were smashed on Saturday night, after the peaceful protests officially ended and the acts of anger, frustration and violence began. It’s depressing to see such senseless destruction, but uplifting to see that so many of the repairs are painted with messages like this one.

***

Note: One of my nephews-in-law is a cop (white), who lives in St. Louis and who was injured (not seriously) during the protests on Friday night.

Another nephew-in-law is a physician (who was born in India), who also lives in St. Louis and who, every day, must negotiate the very real danger of being a person of color in this country. This is my family.

It is also the HUMAN family.

We are all suffering. We must find a way to live with each other, without doing harm to each other. Violence only leads to more violence. Peace is the only way.

18 Aug
2017
Posted in: Activism, Social Justice, Teachers
By    Comments Off on In Our Own Troubled Land

In Our Own Troubled Land

“Like many, I am heartbroken with sadness over the events in Charlottesville Virginia and the rising wave of hate and violence in our culture,” writes Jack Kornfield in an article posted today on the Spirit Rock website.

Jack continues, “While this is part of a long painful history, I want to understand the current tide of white nationalism and racism so the fear and anger it promotes does not take over my own heart...

“Unfortunately as a nation, we have not genuinely come to terms with our past. And it haunts us. It haunts us through our fears and our guilt and our insecurity. It haunts us whenever there are times of national challenges and uncertainty. Our fears are activated and the most primitive forces among us are empowered and unleashed. Our denial of the pain and exploitation in our history feeds the distorted and toxic myths of exceptionalism and white supremacy.

“There is another way.

“It is based on the movement of Restorative Justice….”

“Truth and reconciliation first begins in ourselves…. Quieting your mind, opening your heart with loving awareness, these are the critical steps to begin. For without doing so, you will only add to the chaos and fear. You must bear witness to your own measure of fears and pain, and honorably see and feel your place in our shared, troubled history. With a wise and caring heart you can understand the systems of privilege and oppression and your own place in them.

“And then, like the bodhisattva who hears the cries of the world, you can rise up from your seat of mindfulness and compassion and extend your good hands to touch and mend the sorrows around you. Trust your good hearts. You know how to do this. You have been training for times like this over many years.

“For some your response may be reaching out to connect with those threatened, across lines of religion, race, class, sexual orientation. For some it may mean reaching out to the individuals and groups who are promoting hate and prejudice. For some it may mean educating others. For some it may mean political organizing, or activism, or standing up in peaceful ways in the midst of heated demonstrations. And for some among us it may mean working to support a Truth and Reconciliation process in our communities and across the country.

“This has been explored in over 30 countries, and in small ways has already begun in the US. There is a Truth and Reconciliation process in Greensborough NC. And an article by Fania Davis written last year is a call for such a commission in Ferguson Missouri.

“Since ancient times, Buddhist councils of elders have incorporated elements of a Truth and Reconciliation process in their communities.

“We can do this in many places.

Now is the time for us to do so in our own troubled land.

Perhaps this article will spark your imagination. Or inspire you to start a Truth and Reconciliation group in your community. Or simply remind you that we humans have lived through troubled times before, and that there are ways to steady our hearts and move courageously and compassionately through them.

“In spite of the surfacing of so much conflict and pain, I am still hopeful.

“There is a magnificence to the human spirit as well as a dangerous and destructive side. Difficult times can ennoble us, and call forth new levels of dedication and care for our lives, our families, our communities, and this precious globe.

May it be so.

“And for those creating suffering at every level, I send metta which includes you as well…

“May you be free from hate.
May you be free from fear.
May you be free from ignorance.
May al beings be safe and protected.

“With blessings,
Jack Kornfield
Spirit Rock Center”

***

(click here to read the complete article)

5 Jun
2017
Posted in: Activism, Books, Practice
By    Comments Off on That Place is Within Ourselves

That Place is Within Ourselves

In The Words & Wisdom of Charles Johnson (2011)this amazing novelist, philosopher, teacher, illustrator, award winner, and sanscrit scholar (!) writes:

“Our era looks eerily (to me) like the time of Petronius, author of the Satyricon, at the end of the Roman empire. A time of late cultural decadence, confusion, and incoherence. So many people are scarred and scared, stressed and depressed, angry and willful.

“Given that fact, we need a place for spiritual renewal and healing. That place is within ourselves. It is always available to us. We need not look outside ourselves in order to achieve happiness and freedom from suffering. As it says in the Digha Nikaya:

“You should be an island to yourself, a refuge to yourself, not dependent on any other but taking refuge in the truth and none other than the truth. And how do you become an island and a refuge to yourself? In this way: You see and contemplate your body as composed of all the forces of the universe. Ardently and mindfully, you steer your body-self by restraining your discontent with the world about you. In the same way, observe and contemplate your feelings and use that same ardent restraint and self-possession against enslavement by greed or desire. By seeing attachment to your body and feelings as blocking the truth, you dwell in self-possession and ardent liberation from those ties. This is how you live as an island to yourself and a refuge in the truth–that one will come out of the darkness and into the light.”