as this day draws to a close, so does the Buddhist holiday, Vesak.
on Vesak, we commemorate the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death.
I decided to take a break from social media today in large part to focus on meditation, and Buddhist studies – reading and dharma talks, but I also needed to take a break from the heaviness of what I’m seeing on social media.
to be quite frank, I found myself simply over conspiracy theory bullshit, disappointed by friends abandoning reason and taking the bate down the rabbit hole. I found myself angered by this seemingly growing movement to consider preventable death as inevitable, so we can “reopen” the economy. But the top of the list was the horrific gunning down of 25 year old Ahmaud Arbery which just hit me in the gut. I came across the video on Wednesday and had watched it not knowing what it was about initially and I just couldn’t shake it from my mind or body. I’m just so sickened by this consistent insidious thread that runs through our history and infuriated by the consistent baiting by white men in seats of power and a populace that sits dormant of empathy…and I’m fearful it could one day be one of my beautiful nephews being shot, just because of the color of their skin.
so I went into today with a heavy and exhausted heart (probably in part from arguing with racists on Twitter…sometimes I can’t help it – they’ve closed their hearts and lost their sanity and I feel I should tell them that).
it is said upon the Buddha’s enlightenment, he came across some men along the road who recognized there was something different, unique – perhaps extraordinary about him. they asked him: “Are you a god?” “No,” he replied. “Are you a reincarnation of god?” “No,” he replied. “Are you a wizard or magician, then?” “No.” he replied. “Well, are you a man?” “No.” he replied. “So what are you?” they asked, being very perplexed. the Buddha simply replied: “I am awake.”
what does it mean to be awake? in Buddhist terms, it means to see clearly, to come face to face with life, the impermanence of life and the fear that may arise, with an open heart – not running away from the painful moments or grasping at the joyful moments as they fade away. to stay open is an act of love. and staying open is the only way we can name the harm we see from a place of love and then work to end the harm from a place of love.
what I see when I see grasping at conspiracy theories, abandoning of reason, of the sick and elderly, is fear, not love. what I see when I see a young man of color gunned down while running is fear, not love. I see fearful people not remaining open to loss, I see fearful people closing up their hearts and I see the destruction, the harm, the suffering that ensues.
so, there has to be people willing to be with what is uncomfortable. there has to be people willing to stay open, willing to not run away or grasp, willing to choose love. there has to be people willing to be buddhas.
may we all wake up. may we all choose to stay with it and choose to love out of it, so that we may be of benefit to a people and world suffering.