we sit, with awareness of our body, grounded and upright with dignity. our attention on our breath, allowing thoughts, sensations, feelings to arise and fall away. we come back, we begin again, without judgement or criticism. we come back, we begin again, with gentleness, with tenderness, with open hearts.
how we sit on our cushion, is also how we can live in the world – with awareness, with attention, with open hearts, and steady minds.
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose…Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
this is as good a Buddhist Dharma teaching as any. in Buddhism the cycle of suffering begins with ignorance, or also understood as delusion (or confusion), our false idea of being an independent existence, on our own, rather than interdependent and part of all life, existence (the Force). this feeling of separation, of disconnection, leads to an underlying anxiety and fear. we feel moved to grasp, to cling (also called greed) not only to our own existence which we are afraid to lose, but to anything that supports that or gives us a sense of security. and anything that seems to even subtly threaten that, we push away, sometimes even violently. this is aversion, or aggression (also called anger). this leads to suffering, not only for us but for those around us, and for the world. so a Buddhist way of saying this may be: ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to grasping and aggression, and these lead to suffering.
anger itself, that is the energy of anger, can be useful and clarifying. we see this in social justice work. we see a harm being done, it angers us, and we are moved to end the harm.
but anger burns hot and quick, and if we aren’t aware of it, if we don’t tend to it and transform it with tender hearts and love, we can end up with aggression and violence, rather than fierce compassion.
we can cause more harm rather than bringing benefit. we may end up destroying ourselves and others, rather than being a force for healing. we can become hooked by the seeming righteousness of it all, and then we’re trapped.
sometimes hate doesn’t look so obviously like hate.
it can look like a government taking away a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, or banning books, or attempting to erase BIPOC history and the sin of slavery/racism, or the existence and dignity of LGBTQ+ persons/families. sometimes it looks like people working to restrict or suppress the right to vote or dismantling the foundations of democracy and moving toward authoritarianism. it can also look like denying health care and allowing poverty, and hunger. sometimes hate is crowned with the language of being somehow loving and endowed by a god and embraced and even elevated into some sort of theocracy. no one is safe in that environment. even Christians may not be safe in a Christian theocracy. will Christian Nationalists decide that you are Christian enough? will you pass their litmus test?
none of the above look like love to me, at least not an all-inclusive big love. can love be anything less than that? i don’t think so. words and actions such as these, that cause so much harm and destruction, are not embodiments of love. and if God is love, which i do believe God is, then how can they be of God? instead, they seem to me to be embodiments of hate.
so, that’s where the work is. shining a light and doing the hard work of undoing the hate – transforming that energy, opening hearts, and healing the harm. we can do that with our voices, with our art, with our feet, with our money, with our vote.
climate change, poverty, famine, healthcare inequity, war, refugee crisis, racism, anti-LGBTQ+ laws, authoritarian oppression…name the harm, name the destruction, until we open our hearts to the suffering these cause for others, real healing & transformation won’t happen.
there is a shared trait in this photo – the color green!
my eyes are green and so are the leaves of this shrub.
however, here is also a difference. my eyes won’t be here in the year 2100, but green leaf shrubs like this one still have a chance to be alive, if we take action to mitigate climate change NOW.
visit https://linktr.ee/jaysenwaller to read an AP article regarding the UN report on climate change, along with an NPR article with resources for climate change action, and a link to the Climate Change Resources website.
today, the Dalai Lama released a letter for #EarthDay2022. his letter leads off with the statement, “All of us should be concerned about our collective existence”, a reflection of the Buddhist recognition that all life is interdependent, a recognition shared by others as well, and proven with science.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje writes, “The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe have all arisen interdependently. We cannot survive alone…the more keenly we are aware of this, the more we will begin to take responsibility for the welfare of other beings.” climate change is already endangering our planet’s rich biodiversity that makes the complexity of life on this planet possible. food chains are being disrupted and species are going extinct. this has a domino effect on all other life including ours.
scientists have been warning that we are in danger. climate models are now showing that if we don’t significantly curb our carbon emissions by 2030 (just 8 years), the planet will be unlivable by 2100. unlivable. suffering will begin decades earlier as global society collapses due to famine, land loss, mass migration, and conflict over limited resources. many of us will still be around as this happens, even if we aren’t around for the worst of it. what about our children and grandchildren? are we really willing to allow such a future for them and other life on this planet?
there have been five great mass extinctions in Earth’s history. are we on the verge of a sixth?
the irony is that the very intelligence, ingenuity, and fortitude that helped to cause this crisis, are the qualities that we can access to at least mitigate if not resolve this crisis. however, the distrust of science by some, our lack of empathy and our unwillingness to experience the disruption to our comfort and embrace change now to ensure an actual livable future as a whole, may very well be our downfall.
we say we love the Earth, we say we love life. it’s well past time to prove it. we need action.