Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor tradition; nor rumor; nor what is in a scripture; nor surmise; nor axiom; nor specious reasoning; nor bias towards one’s beliefs; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' When you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.
Unlike my other posts that have a sort of seriousness to them this one will have even more seriousness to it and may cover more than I hope.
For those of you who do not live in the United States there is a Supreme Court hearing currently taking place regarding same-sex marriage. Being openly gay I certainly have hopes that those trusted with the roles as judges realize that my dignity and that of my fellow lesbian-gay-bi-transgender-queer and even heterosexual allies will not be dismissed.
Yet this is not the only issue at hand that is taking place in this nation at the very least. There are food products that have been approved and are quite harmful, there are movements against the children of the nation in reducing funding for schools and other forms of education, there are pop icons who are being severely (and rightly so) criticized for their lyrics regarding women, rape and drugs. There are LGBTQ youth who are every single moment of the day crying themselves in effort to comfort themselves because they have been beaten, bruised, neglected, punished for something they cannot change.
Each moment that we are on the meditation cushion or spend in silence, all of this is taking place. This sort of silence cannot be appropriate can it? How can we just sit comfortably while our fellow human beings and the planet itself is beginning to shake in agony as the loss of precious lives begins to rise in an age where we once believed this would no longer take place?
I strongly believe that meditation does not have to take place quietly while sitting, standing or even being alone. Meditation can take place in action, global action, that pushes forward equality, justice, peace, dignity and all those other things we value and have fought for in our own lives so hard.
We have absolutely no right to sit while children next door may be calling out for help in some way. Our meditations can only be validated in our solitary practices or communal practices if we do something about all of this.
Yes--this is yet another call to action that is incredibly explicit. I stated today in a philosophy class that being a member of an institution of any sort that is responsible for the death of even one with others walking along their own paths in that institution doing nothing is cowardice.
I am fully aware that each and every single one of us have our own struggles that we must resolve including myself but is there a way that to resolve the plagues in our own lives is to first resolve the plagues in someone else’s life?
Is a thank you or even an absent thank you from a good deed a fulfillment of all that we do not just strive to be....
but we already are.
This is the Buddhism that I fell for, a non-silent Buddhism that believes that each and every single human even the murderer, even the psychotic have a light shining from them. A black light, a light of Emptiness. I so strongly believe this that I had it tattooed on my chest in Latin: Lucemus non Incendemus which translates to:
We shine not burn.
The irony, of course, is that we must burn to shine.
“Everything is burning. What is burning? The eyes are burning, everything that we see with the eyes is burning.” This little phrase comes from many many different Buddhist traditions and can certainly be interpreted in a variety of ways. We burn with Desire and so everything around us is engulfed in flames. Yet how negative can this be? I am a fan of warmth and a fan of the Eight Fold Path which teaches that Desire, all together, need not be something negative. It can change the world in drastic ways.
We can begin to protest and maybe everything we know about Buddhism will change.
Is not one of the most important teachings of Buddhism is that everything is constantly changing, shifting, molding, responding, bouncing back and forth and in all directions. So if Buddhism is to change because we do not sit for twenty minutes but for ten and spend the other ten in aid to somebody else. Even if that somebody else is an ant on our table that has lost his way home.
We are capable of so much, I need not prove that since I am posting this on something called the internet. Wow. What a thing the internet is....really....just for a few moments...think about it. Isn’t is a spectacular phenomena? In sorts, even a miracle?
As this world becomes smaller and smaller we have less and less room for foolish error. It will take place and mercy has already been granted by me and hopefully by those around me as well on those foolish mistakes. Even the Earth is merciful but, too, has its limits. It cries for help.
I am certainly among the guilty as is everybody else, even the child.
But I do not believe this guilt is negative one. It is a lotus blooming and blossoming into the beauty and fragrant flower that it is and so then inspiring everything around it to come and taste its nectar. The shame that I feel from time to time is soothed by the bee which comes to me not caring about the shame and the guilt that I hold onto but joins with me in a celebration of life.
It is because we are guilty that we must act.
It is because we feel shame that we must act.
It is because we feel humiliated that we must act.
It is because we are amazing that we must act.
It is because we are capable of such beauty and love that we must act.
It is because we can act that we must act.
I never leave the meditation cushion and perform Zen miracles every step that I take. The only wish that I have is that the breath that I take each step reaches the child who is contemplating suicide because she has been told that her being a lesbian is “wrong” “sinful” “disgusting.” There is no room for tolerating these situations in Buddhism. The most simple logic will show that:
We are all interconnected.
Buddhism teaches on the cessation of suffering.
Suffering and its cessation are both incredibly complicated.
To end our own personal suffering is to also end the suffering of another person.
To end the suffering of another person we must be in the world doing stuff.
It’s really that simple. I am not the first to have said this and I hope that I am not the last.
There is an urgency among us that cannot be ignored.
I invite all of you with your friends, with your Sanghas, by yourselves or with whomever to remember the children, adults, plants, animals that are beginning to shake in agony because of us. We are responsible and we must do something about this.
What did the Buddha do after his Enlightenment? He went and he taught, inviting all of those around him to join in his teachings on theorizing on how to end suffering. Many forms of Buddhism teach that we are already Enlightened, so lets do as our Teacher did....go into the world and end its suffering because frankly, I’ve had enough of it.