out of balance…

out of balance…
after hearing the disappointing, though not surprising news that the Senate Republicans wouldn’t pass gun legislation that bans persons on the terrorist watchlist from buying weapons and expands background checks, even though the majority of their constituents are in favor of this commonsense legislation, i decided to take a brisk walk in 99° weather. 
is brisk the right adjective? 
just think if i had heard the news earlier in the day when it was 106°. looks like i dodged a…
the thing is, i have been reading articles and essays all week long both pro and con. i’ve sat with this all week long, really trying to be open and listen, meditating with it. i’m not one of those people that wants to force his views on other people. if that were the case, none of you would be eating meat and you would take time out of your day to hug a tree every once in a while. and although i don’t personally like guns, i understand that they have a use at times in the world that we live in. i do understand that some people still enjoy hunting, even if they need not do it. i understand that some people want to have a weapon to defend their home and their loved ones. i respect and defend that “right” even as i think the Second Amendment is poorly interpreted (where is this well regulated militia with their guns they have the right to bear?).
here’s the thing, though. no “right” is absolute. although i have the “right” to free speech i cannot defame someone or incite violence. and when a “right” falls out of balance, infringing upon the rights of others to a degree that is gross and negligent, and causing irrevocable harm or death – then things are out of balance. we are out of balance. and when we aren’t speaking about taking guns away, but simply asking that we keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them, but we cannot even come together on that and agree – then things are out of balance. we are out of balance.
there will always be people who are mentally ill, or who are hateful, or angry, or a terrorist. we cannot possibly stop, or heal every possible person who may commit such an act is what we have seen. but we can make it more difficult and we can withhold weapons that can do mass destruction, and cause mass casualties. my intelligence is insulted every time someone brings up the car analogy. cars were not built to kill. with proper training I could probably kill someone with the phone that I have in my hand (can someone show me how to do that? just kidding) but, the phone was not designed or created so that I can kill someone…thankfully, because i’d hate to break my vow of non-harming. you have no idea how many spiders i’ve caught and released.
some people say that none of this is the point. they claim it is a matter of principle. But if it is a matter of principle, even then, some principles outweigh others… how much do 49 lives weigh? or 26? or 14? Or the many others who will carry both physical and emotional scars for the rest of their lives? 
we can’t even find out the weight, because Congress bowing to NRA pressure will not allow the CDC to study gun violence or gun death. i’m too lazy to study, let them study for me.
at some point we have to drop all of what we have created and remember what was here before us, before what we created. Life. that’s the principle that i intend to stand with. and fight for. out of love, with fierce compassion, i vow to promote life.
silly Buddhist. 
~j

06.20.16
#GunViolence #GunLegislation #CommonSense #Orlando #Newtown #SanBernadino 

words matter…

dear friends ~
i will repeat this until my dying breath Words Matter. our voice has tremendous power and where we lend our voice, the seeds we plant, can have immense implications. it is not beneficial to be careless. the misdirected fear, the unreasonable paranoia, and impassioned vitriol can cause harm and motivate violence. now is the time to stand up and shine a light on the dark that is ignorance, that is fear, that leads to hate and violence. a Muslim member of congress received a death threat. on Monday (you’ve probably seen this) a friend of a friend posted on FB that she was spat on by a man in a business suit while commuting. he yelled at her calling her a “sand n**ger” and told her she is the problem and she should get the f*ck out of his country. 
if you think the current talk and climate of fear has had nothing to do with this, i believe you are mistaken. you have the freedom of speech. use that freedom to lift and enlighten, to be of benefit, rather than adding to harm, aggression, and violence.
as a Buddhist i have taken a personal vow of non-harming, which even while impossible fulfill, i am committed to through practice of Right Speech and Right Action. i take this seriously, so i will not demonize those whom i believe are mistaken, who feel differently and may have become lost in the mire of fear and panic.
but i will speak up and stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters. i will stand with all Muslims whom i have worked with in the past and currently. i will stand with all Muslims whom i am grateful to call my friends and whose welfare i care about greatly, as i care for my Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, and Atheist brothers and sisters. why? because i remember that we are interdependent, because your heartbeat is my heartbeat, your breath is my breath.
i will share messages of unity and beauty – reminding you of who you are, of who we are. not this hyped up bullshit, but the stardust and ancient love that is you, that is me, that is us no matter our religious tradition.
and this first message, i am sharing?

it is my favorite poem, from my favorite poet. his name? Hafiz…a Muslim.
~j

  
#StandingWithMuslims #WeAreOne #interdependence #RightSpeech #RightAction #unity #ShineYourLight #buddhist #bodhisattva #Hafiz

Compassionate Eating…

Solidarity Thursday
Thursday, January 17th 2013
Compassionate Eating

Compassionate Eating

What we ingest and how we ingest, should be of importance to us….because it is important.

How we eat is one part, a very important part, of how we can live our life in a connected way, in a way that is whole.  How we eat – what we ingest, is not only important to our physical health, but can also be a way of building community and experiencing fulfillment and joy.

This is so foreign to many of us who have, in many ways, been conditioned to experience eating as just one part of our multi-tasking lives.  In the rush to be busy, often a mark of our success and achievement, we have made eating a task…something we do, while doing other tasks.  We eat driving down the highway from one destination to another.  We eat while walking, while watching TV, quickly as we run out the door, or right before bed.  This has been our practice for so long that it has become the pattern we see all around us and one that we participate in.

How can we change this pattern?

Awareness is the key.

What are we eating?  Where did it come from?  From whom has it been taken?  From whom has it been given?  Taking time to ask these questions, to look honestly at our food, will undoubtedly benefit us.  Taking time to ask these questions, to look honestly at our food, will undoubtedly lead us to growth, to change, and perhaps to an alteration in how we look at food and our relationship to it.

This growth will manifest differently for each of us, as we are all unique.  Each of us approaches food and our relationship to it, informed by our family experience and traditions, our culture, and our religious practices.  We all eat for various reasons outside of pure physical nourishment.  Some of us use food for numbing pain, for calming fears, or easing anxiety.  As our awareness grows, so does our clarity of why we eat what we eat…and what it is we are eating.

This awareness and then the growth from it, begin with mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a practice that brings us to the present moment.  Mindfulness is a practice that can help us to clearly see what we are eating and how we relate to it.  Mindfulness is a practice that can help us to slow down, to appreciate, and to benefit not only us, but all life around us.

AppleWorld

“With mindfulness we can see that many elements – the rain, sunshine, earth, the labor of farmers, drivers, food sellers, and the cook – have all come together to form each wonderful meal. When we eat in mindfulness, we can see that the entire universe is supporting our existence.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Born out of this mindful-awareness, comes great gratitude.  We are grateful, because we realize that this isn’t just a piece of bread in front of us.  It has within it, the merchant who sold it to us, the farmer who harvested the wheat, the soil rich with nutrients, the rain and sun that brought nourishment.  When we look at an orange we see the tree, its blossoms, its roots and the seed from which it began.  They are all there, present within the orange.  The orange, just like us, is a combination of a multitude of phenomena co-arising – coming together to form what we recognize as an orange, or as us.  We have within us, a multitude of organisms that form us.  We have our ancestral DNA passed down from generations.  We have within us, the very same need for nutrients, for water, for sun.  How humbling!  How miraculous!  What a gift!

What a responsibility…

Not very many of us have thought of it this way or even like to entertain thinking of ourselves in this way, but if we begin to see that we are not just us…but a community of organisms, we may feel a responsibility to feed these organisms the very best of what we can gather for their survival.  After all, the survival of the cells that make up our organisms that make up us, is our survival as well.  And as we begin to see that life supports life in such a way as this, then we begin to see how precious it is and how sacred it is that we are careful in how we consume such life.

This is mindfulness, this is awareness.

This doesn’t necessarily manifest for everyone the same way, as I said before.  Not everyone will become a vegetarian or vegan.  Not everyone will immediately seek to eat only locally grown or locally raised food sources.  But once we are aware, we should think about all of this.  Once we are aware, it is hard to forget.

For me it was a clear conviction of heart.  I had always loved animals in a way that saw them more as equals under heaven than as objects of service or consumption.  Even as a kid, I saw myself as a bit of a St. Francis –

St Francis (2)                  JaysenAndJiselle

– talking to and relating to animals as kindred.  Who wants to eat friends and family?  But it was watching some videos of how horrific the food industry is in their treatment of animals that turned me for good.  It was an immediate and lasting decision, made some nine years ago, this spring.  For me it has been beneficial not only in my physical health, but more importantly for me, in my sense of communion with all of Life.  It has been an inevitable outgrowth and inextricable companion to a life devoted to peace.  If I am offering my life as an instrument of peace, as service to compassion and love, then in my heart I know I am no longer able to eat animals if given the choice.

Although this cuts to the core of my spirituality, I am not very political about it, other than trying to live by example and giving money to organizations that share this view.  It would seem contradictory – even hypocritical – for me to espouse a path of compassion, yet withhold compassion from those I disagree with.  Compassion is compassion.  So I exercise and practice a view that is long in its vision, seeing societal transformation as something to nurture and grow rather than force.  This is just me, though.  Many moved by the horror and tragedy of how animals are treated (for which I am no less grieved) exercise their passion more politically.  I am thankful for them, and know that they are needed.  I also feel that those with a contemplative approach, living their truth persistently – if quietly – are also needed.  This is balance.  And at this point, even if the industry were to be completely transformed into an industry that exercised humane living conditions and lives of dignity for animals before their lives were ended for consumption, I will still remain vegetarian.  Part of this is my spiritual belief, from the Buddhist approach of non-harming.  Practicing to live a life that does not harm, knowing full well that life consumes life – even if it is plant life, and that it is impossible to not harm on some level.  This is part of life.  This teaches and opens us to grace.  I also know that I am fortunate enough to live in a place where I can access alternative food choices; I have an income (even if modest) that allows me to afford to make alternative food choices.  This is not the case for everyone.  To practice one’s beliefs while having understanding of this and working towards a resolution, while respecting differences of belief and tradition.  This is compassion.

For others, and I have many friends who feel this way, who don’t see animals as equals, there is still room for transformation and beneficial action.  I have friends who from a more traditionally-western-religious view see humans as set apart from animals.  In this view, animals can certainly be seen as a source for service and consumption.  However, these same friends also see humans as having a responsibility towards animals.  They see themselves set apart as stewards of the animals’ care.  This can also be mindful and compassionate.  This can go a long way, perhaps in an even more effective way, toward changing the norm for the animals in the food industry as we know it.  People who eat meat, mindfully, who choose to buy from local farms where they can meet the farmer, see that the animals are treated with dignity and affection in their lives leading up to death – these people also can make a significant difference.  People who eat meat, but choose to eat less for the benefit of health and environment, are also exercising compassion.  People who eat meat with a sense of gratitude, with a sense that this is a sacrifice and sacred act – perhaps offering prayers of thanks and prayers for the benefit of the animal’s life that has been sacrificed, this is also a way of eating with compassion.

Ultimately compassionate eating is eating in a way that looks at consumption and what we consume honestly.  It is about practicing consumption in a way that sits well with one’s heart.  It is about practicing consumption in way that not only appreciates life, but benefits life – not only ours, but that of our animal friends, our families, our community, and the environment.

Wishing all of you, dear friends, much happiness and peace as you travel your journey into compassionate eating.

Namasté

For more reading on this Solidarity Thursday topic, please check out these wonderful blogs: Ben at The Horizontalist, Esther at Church in the Canyon, and with a unique perspective, Triskaidekapod.

The ends do not justify the means…

…this quote from, dear Jack Kornfield, seems as beneficial and present as ever.

“The ends do not justify the means. If our actions will bring harm to others, even in the service of some ‘good,’ they are almost certainly deluded. If our actions do not come from a kind heart, from loving courage and compassion, they are deluded. If they are based on a distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ they stem from delusion. Only to the extent that we act from the wisdom of no separation, understanding how we are woven together, will our intention bring benefit.”

~ Jack Kornfield
(The Wise Heart)