Today our friend Vu Dang passed. I write “our friend” because anyone who embodies love and light as Vu does is truly a friend to this world, to all life. I am holding in my heart his dear wife/partner Chris, his family, his friends, and all touched by his teaching at Dang Good Yoga. I sat and meditated today with Vu in my heart, practicing Metta (lovingkindness). Vu was a friend to anyone he encountered, a beloved teacher and Yogi. I would say (though he’d disagree) that he was also a Zen master. In the face of suffering, he remained the epitome of courage, of open-heartedness, of kindness and gentleness, of presence. He practiced with Thich Nhat Hanh’s community and embodied Thay’s gatha – “I have arrived, I am home.” And to be in Vu’s presence was to surely feel that we had also arrived and were home.
A few years ago, I had created some artwork to be raffled at a fundraiser put together by wonderful friends to benefit Vu in his struggle with cancer. I also created a piece specifically inspired and for Vu, for his birthday. It took me a year to finally give it to him in person (he was so patient and gracious about that, of course). It is pictured below. It touched my heart deeply and with gratitude to see him post the art from time to time as a reminder to others that they too “are the sound of life, the song of love” to “just be” – most recently as his New Year’s greeting/post and another time with the note to “Please remember…”
I am grateful to have first met Vu in high school so many years ago, grateful to reconnect, grateful to learn from his presence – I know I will continue to learn from his presence as I continue the practice, of being open-hearted, kind, and brave. I hope to one day have his grace, his wisdom, his presence. I know a light like his doesn’t dim, that such a light is with us as we practice, as we live and love.
I will repost specific details on donations to the UCSD Moore Cancer Center, when his family provides them. In the meantime, please keep them in your heart, in your prayers, and let us live as open-hearted with love as Vu 😌❤️🙏🏻📿
Our power is love.
Found in our open hearts.
Vulnerable, tender, brave,
and strong beyond measure.
No one can take this away.
It is the weapon of the oppressed,
that eventually defeats the oppressor,
who in ignorance
underestimates its power,
It is the long arc.
#LoveWins #TheLongArc #inexhaustible #OpenHeart #PlantingSeeds #TheResistance #MeditateAndResist #MindfulResistance #EngagedBuddhism #EngagedArt #JMWart
Besides sharing an initial post and some friends’ posts, I haven’t shared much since the most recent mass shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I’ve just been at a loss for words. The expected debate on media and in social media has been the same as the previous times with lame comparisons to death by motor vehicles, the assertions that if a killer wants to kill they will kill, calling the perpetrator evil, scapegoating the mentally ill, blaming media, etc. all the while claiming with clenched fist that having horrific weapons is a right that supersedes life. It’s insanity. Of course the issue of gun violence is a complex one including issues of mental illness (and it is clear that this young perpetrator was failed in this regard), a culture that at times glorifies violence for entertainment, and at times encourages cynicism. These should have our attention as should other issues that have been brought up recently, issues of toxic masculinity, toxic individualism, and white nationalism. Yes, we need better health care for all that includes mental health services. All of this should be looked at, but much of this isn’t unique to the United States, but mass shootings at the level we are seeing are.
The elephant in the room is the AR-15 and weapons like it, created for one thing only – killing as many people possible in as short a time as possible. They are meant for war. But we aren’t allowed to have a debate about it even though the reality is most American and even most gun owners are in line with banning such weapons (not all guns! Just mass killing machines) and having sensible gun regulation. Yet, the NRA and some in political leadership won’t have the discussion and refuse to give up the “right” to have a killing machine, valuing that right over the lives of children, and life in general.
Seeing all of this come up again and again is enough to bring on despair and cynicism, but something changed this time. Like a soldier who has seen the unspeakable horror of war and speaks out against such atrocity, these children, these young citizens having seen the horror of gun violence first hand are not backing down. They are the future and their message is clear: Life is what is to be valued. There is a path being cleared within all of the usual insanity, with cutting clarity by these young people. I’m inspired by them, I want to reignite my voice to join with their strong voices, supporting them, standing with them.
There is hope.
“We serve life not because it is broken, but because it is holy.” ~ Mother Teresa
#GunViolence #EndGunViolenceNow #GunRegulation #MassShootings #FloridaShooting #Life #Hope #TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds #LoveWins #enso #JMWart
ink & acrylic on paper
again, more lives gunned down.
17 young people dead.
does this hurt? is their #empathy within our hearts?
the Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
this is not what is going on here.
much of this country has a sickness – fear, anger, aggression, isolation, self-preservation at the cost of other life.
our young are dying and we are only asking to have an authentic conversation about legitimate and fair gun regulation. and once again we are told this isn’t the time. it wasn’t after the other shootings either…still waiting.
#enough #GunControl #GunRegulation #now #ChooseLife #TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds #child #Enso #JMWart
there is so much pain, so much fear and anger. we can get lost in the suffering of it all. we can lose sight of the miracle of the moment, the love in the moment.
i have a practice i do (if i can step out of my suffering long enough to remember to do so!) that i would like to share with you.
when the suffering of the world, wars, poverty, discrimination, violence, corruption, indifference seem too overwhelming, i practice this. i bring my focus down to small stuff, the stuff we generally overlook. nature is a great aid in this. take a few moments to sit and breathe while observing nature, listening to birds’ song, the swaying of branches with the breeze dancing through, watching some insects (ants and bees are great!). even taking some time to observe your own body. have you ever stopped and looked at your skin for a while? fascinating! an appreciation arises naturally when we slow down, when we open and observe smaller, overlooked things.
when your personal suffering seems a burden too great to bear, go big. pull your focus out to a wider view, not centered on your smaller arena of life that can seem overwhelming. stand outside at night, be still, breathe, and observe the night sky as your eyes adjust and the stars begin to reveal themselves – spoiler alert, you can do this during the day as well, it is incredible how nuanced the blue sky can be and how magnificent clouds shapes can be. reflect on the good you see in the world, people opening their hearts, being kind, how history has a way of moving forward and improving even in the face of sometimes grave darkness and opposition. reflect on how the cycle of nature continues regardless – day into night into day, summer into fall and winter, into spring and summer. reflect even on your own life as a whole – observing all that has changed in your life from as a little kid until now. be aware of the rollercoaster of highs and lows, of drops and climbs. you have suffered before and have gotten through it. accept, forgive and love the journey thus far. everything changes. life persists.
love the moment.
#TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds #LoveTheMoment #life #journey #suffering #meditation #zen #enso #JMWart
so impressed with the multitudes marching yesterday. looking through the pictures i see so much to be inspired by.
a lot of love, passion, light and humor.
this is what democracy looks like.
and the continued persistence of this movement will be needed.
despite my critic friends, i would have loved to have seen the President do an about face and grow into this job, but many of us knew that wouldn’t happen and it hasn’t. i’ve been called out for not being fair and not carrying a neutral position. i disagree with that opinion. i firmly believe that a year in, any fair assessment continues to shed light on the consistent destructive nature of this Administration and Presidency. i believe it cuts through to the moral core of our hearts and the very fiber of our democracy. so being neutral in the face of such harm is not my path and not an option. i will continue to add my voice and my art mindfully and peacefully to #resist any actions that result in the degradation of our planet, any actions that target those on the margins and most vulnerable, and policies that deepen the divide of wealth in favor of the most elite. and i will continue to do so from a place of love and fierce compassion, calling out all forms of aggression and violence as best and consistently as i am able.
the road may be long, but it is well traveled by generations of open hearts before us who stood in the light with love, as they faced darkness.
November 8th, 2018
#TheLongArc #TheResistance #PlantingSeeds #LoveWins #WomensMarch #MindfulResistance #MeditateAndResist #StandUp #SpeakOut