an ideology of violence…

the ideology of White Supremacy is at its foundation, within its very core, violence. the moment one race has been placed in a position of superiority to another, thereby diminishing the humanity of the other race, an act of violence has taken place. whether it manifests in thought, word, deed, through a platform of economics, institutions, laws, politics, it is violence. whether under the label is White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi, Nazi, Confederate, or Alt-Right, it is violence. there is no such thing as a “peaceful” White Supremacy rally.I have to remain hopeful that hearts can be awakened, but we don’t awaken them by sympathizing with the true enemies which are delusion, fear, aggression and hate, or excusing the violence that manifests from these sicknesses. we must name the suffering, shining light into the dark abyss which is racism, which includes an honest and real look at this country’s foundation, its history, and our own privilege. so many want to claim they are pro-life. this is a moment to prove it. one cannot claim pro-life, yet sympathize with, excuse or ignore an ideology of death. and although they may not recognize it and we may not want to see it, those who identify with the White Supremacist ideology are also victims of its destructive power. there are no winners in hate. so, we must stand firmly as an ally to life and those who have and are suffering at the hand of the destructive and dark force of racism.

~j

no one superior…

the basic Buddhist understanding of life is one of interdependence, that we have no independent self, that many co-arising conditions have come together to manifest this body and life.  this is the case with all things, including all people.  as it has been often quoted and re-quoted (to paraphrase) we are related to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, and to the entire Universe atomically.  all have their rightful and honored place in this web-like tapestry of Life.

understanding this, how can anyone say that one thing is more important or superior to another?

this is Achilles Heel of the White Supremacist movement, the White Nationalists movement, the Nazis, the Neo-Nazis, the KKK, the Alt-Right movement, and all the other racist movements that have sprung up through time over and over pitting one group of people against another manifesting in physical violence, economic/structural/institutional violence, and political violence.

They are all eventually doomed.  Why?  Because they act contrary to Life itself which is at its foundation interdependent and always changing.  Yet, these movements rise up again and again – sometimes hiding under a rock sheltered in darkness, until finding home once more in fragile egos and closed hearts.  This is why it is so important that we stand as allies to Life and to all who are oppressed.  Life acts through us, and sometimes in spite of us, so it is each one of us who have to wake up, listen, stand, speak, write, create art, practice and serve, as allies to Life and all who are oppressed finding themselves on the receiving end of the fear, anger, bigotry, racism, aggression and violence that has found its way into the light.  We MUST be engaged.  Naming the darkness and what lies beneath it, so that we can defeat it, without becoming it.

in this moment our greatest enemies are what we call in Buddhism, The 3 Poisons – our tendency to avoid the discomfort of our situation of this life by either grasping (greed), being aggression (hatred), or lost in our ignorance (delusion – ignorance is NOT bliss).  these are the driving reactive force for those who would put themselves above others, the roots of the fear and anger we see motivating racism and these hostiles groups.  we counter these by authentically engaging life in all of its challenge and discomfort with an open heart through practicing The 4 Immeasurables, which are lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.  these aren’t to be confused with being “nice” as we may think.  compassion can be fierce, cutting and precise.  we need the fiercest compassion at this time.

the rock has been turned over again and what has been hiding underneath once more is in the light.  what will we do?  the world is watching and history will record these moments.

~j
08.14.17

rethinking violence…

 

Sitting with this quote, recently: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” (by Isaac Asimov) and I thought, “Should we expand our definition of violence?”

 

I think we often view violence through a rather restrictive lens of war and aggressive, physical assault.  However, is it truly too far a reach to suggest that words or actions that cause harm, injury, or death are also a form of violence?

 

Isn’t it violent to legislate healthcare out of the reach of the elderly, the poor, the ill?

Isn’t it violent to deprive food from children and the elderly, by cutting the programs on which they depend?

Isn’t it violent to marginalize an “other” (fill in the blank) virtually placing a target stirring fear and hate?

 

The poor, the elderly, the ill, the undocumented, the marginalized (including Muslims and LGBTQ) are easy targets for leadership that is incompetent.

 

We harm or we benefit. 

 

So, what do we do?

 

We bear witness.  We speak up.  We speak truth to power.  We stand and we walk in solidarity with those who suffer, the marginalized and oppressed.

 

But perhaps, even more importantly…

 

We begin with ourselves, and our own hearts and minds.  Am I willing to work for resolutions in my own life that best benefit the big picture, the long arc?  Am I willing to call upon my most creative and innovation potential to benefit all those around me and not just myself?  Am I willing to serve?  Am I willing to be vulnerable?  Am I willing to understand and embrace empathy?  Am I willing to love?

 

~j

03.22.17

 

stay with it…

our tendency, our pattern is to avoid our heartbreak, our fear, our discomfort at all costs.
a relationship ends, a job is lost, a loved one becomes ill, the world is spinning out of control and we react.  sometimes we grasp at the next person or possible relationship, at every little thing that promises good health.  sometimes we attack aggressively to protect ourselves. and sometimes we avoid at all costs, “ignorance is bliss.”

these ways of reacting to what makes us feel uncomfortable in life – grasping, aggression, ignorance (also sometimes called greed, hatred, and delusion) are what we call in Buddhism, the Three Poisons.  they perpetuate suffering – the very thing we are desperately trying to avoid in our patterns of reactions.  the antidote to these poisons is a broken heart, an open heart.  and the only way to give our hearts a shot at being open and opening wider – building its capacity to be with life – is to allow our hearts to break.

ugh, right?  who wants to do that?  not most of us, which is why we can look around and see ourselves and other hurt people jumping from one relationship to another, see ourselves and other hurt people trying a new fad diet or health claim one after another, see ourselves and other hurt people aggressively attacking “friends” on social media who have opposing views, or even simply wanting social media to return to cat memes and name games, because it has gotten too “political.”

but the truth is, our discomfort will not go away with the next person in our bed, or the loss of a certain number of pounds, or getting that last word in, or turning off the tv/computer and pretending the world isn’t burning.  none of these will make a difference if we can’t sit still and allow our discomfort to break open our heart, to open it, to teach us.  a broken heart, an open heart allows our love to be free.

Pema Chödrön wrote a book titled, “The Wisdom of No Escape.”  I love this little phrase.  it is counter intuitive to our habitual pattern of running away, running through, and going to war with ourselves and others.

can we see that we need not go to war?  that we are inherently strong enough, courageous enough to not only be with our pain, but to allow our love to heal it?

we must learn to sit with ourselves and our discomfort, gently and compassionately allowing our hearts to break open and our love to flow, if we want to be free.  this is our life calling us to awaken.

stay with it…

~j
03.05.17

anger…

  

in my anger

i became a ghost
here, in my love

i become human
~j

Zen Parable of the Monk and the Samurai
A big, tough Samurai once went to see a little monk.
“Monk!”
He barked, in a voice accustomed to instant obedience.
“Teach me about heaven and hell!”
The Monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain,
“Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You’re dumb. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you.”
The Samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the Monk.
Looking straight into the Samurai’s eyes, the Monk said softly,
“That’s hell.”
The Samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the Monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.
The Monk said softly,
“And that’s heaven.”

Commentary:

anger in and of itself is just energy. like any other emotion. we are human and we experience anger. and when the sometimes intense, hot energy of anger is put into responsible use, it can be beneficial too! anger can be a powerful motivating force in our work to end injustice, for instance.

our experience of anger can also be an opportunity to investigate what gets under our skin and eats at us. what makes us lose our cool, how fast do we lose it? are we acting out of anger with our words and actions, adding to the harm and suffering in the world?

the celebrated Franciscan, Richard Rohr has said, “What we don’t transform, we transmit.” if we allow the experience of anger and the investigation of anger to transform us, we may find as the Samurai did in the Zen parable above, the healing energy of compassion as we connect to our own humanity and the humanity of others. 

in this way, our experience of anger is just another teacher on the path to our own transforming and expanding heart, rather than the further transmission of aggression and suffering in this world.

~j