Today, I would like to share the words of Valerie Brown, How to Fight Without Hating:  Lessons in Power and Love. Valerie is an ordained Dharma teacher in the Plum Village tradition and a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). 

‘“Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love.’  
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

‘“Get in trouble: good trouble, necessary trouble.’ Congressman John Lewis

“As Black and Brown people, we are in the fight of our lives.  Our lives are constricted by systems and structures that foster discrimination and injustice. The legacy of violence, especially unlawful police violence, perpetrated against Black people, Asian people, indigenous people, people of color, differently abled people, people of various gender identities and expressions and sexual orientation, and others who are marginalized, is our constant reality. This is compounded by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Asian, Latinx, immigrant, un-housed, and low-income communities, which are among the hardest hit, grossly under-resourced, and devastatingly vulnerable.  

“Our hearts and our supports are broken open by grief, fear, and anger.  How do we fight injustice and not hate?  How do we fight injustice and support ourselves?  How do we deepen our resolve for a more just and equitable world in an unjust and inequitable world?

“Recently, I attended a gathering of more than 600 Black and Brown people hosted by Liberate, an app designed to support mindfulness and mediation for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and BAME Black Asian and Ethnic Minorities).  The speaker was Ruth King, an important figure in mindfulness community especially among BIPOC. She guided us through a powerful meditation, calling us to invite the power of our ancestors and descendents to guide, protect, and support us, and to engage our innate inner resources and resilience toward a strong and calm heart.

“During the hour-long deeply healing and moving Zoom video conference session, an important question emerged from the chat:  

“How do you fight injustice without hating?

“Initially, I was intellectually intrigued by the question, which then settled in my own heart.

“How do you fight injustice without hating?

“In the Plum Village tradition of mindfulness meditation founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, hate is likened to seed that lies dormant in the consciousness of the mind, along with many other kinds of seed-like emotions, including despair, shame, indifference, openheartedness, warmth, delight, and many more. These seed-like emotions become ‘activated’ by thoughts, words, and actions of life’s daily events. For example, someone cuts you off in traffic; the seed of anger gets activated.  You have an uplifting conversation with a friend; the seed of gratitude is touched. We live our daily life this way. 

“In Plum Village mindfulness practice, we learn to notice and become aware when these seed-like emotions are touched within us, to notice what the emotion feels like in the body, and to bring awareness to the feelings and bodily sensations, taking care of these emotions by calming and soothing the body and mind. 

“Taking care of the emotion of hate is an ongoing, daily, and moment to moment practice, especially now at this time when Black and Brown people are under attack from unlawful police violence, unconscious bias, and disparate treatment of Blacks during the COVID-19 health crisis.  As a Black woman, my daily practice is to notice the sensation of hate, which often feels like a flush of fire in my face that spreads across my chest to a dull pain in my heart.  I recognize that this sensation ripples outward in my body, in my words, and in my action. With this recognition and insight, I begin not only gain agency over my feelings, my words, and action, I recognize how I can support myself. 

“So, what is skillful action is required at a time of hate, fear, and violence?

“Congressman John Lewis has said, ‘Get in trouble: good trouble, necessary trouble.’  These are times that call on us to get into ‘good trouble’, which eradicates unlawful police violence and oppression, which dismantles social conditions of health disparities among the most marginalized people, which challenges deeply discriminatory educational systems.   These ‘good troubles’ include taking to the streets in peaceful institutions, exercising our right to vote, and bringing communities or color together to heal and to act.

“As an individual and as a society, we have been given specific instruction from countless people who sacrificed their lives through the Civil Rights Era and other social movements in how to take compassionate action in the face of violence, anger, and fear.  We are instructed to meet police violence with non-violence.  We are instructed to meet racist structures and systems with diligence with inner resilience born out of compassionate action.  We are instructed to meet hatred with an open heart and to cultivate heartfulness because love, compassion, kindness, and peace are bigger than a heart constricted by hate, discrimination and violence.

“This is the skillful action toward radical power and love.”

Valerie Brown, JD, MA, PCC

Skyscape image created with Nikon D750 f/5.6 1/320s 28mm 400 ISO edited with Capture One 20

“for us to survive, both as individuals and as a species, we need a revolution in consciousness.”

Love Letter to the Earth, Thich Nhat Hanh, April 21, 2019 Plum Village
Poudre Canyon…summer 2018 Nikon D750 f/7.1 1/200s 39mm 4000 ISO

Another with same thoughts
May be gazing at the pale morning moon 
Of the Long-night month– 
No sight is more sorrowful

~Izumi Shikibu,

Trans: AS Omori & K Doi, Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan

BELOVED MOTHER OF ALL THINGS

“I bow my head before you as I look deeply and recognise that you are present in me and that I’m a part of you. I was born from you and you are always present, offering me everything I need for my nourishment and growth. My mother, my father, and all my ancestors are also your children. We breathe your fresh air. We drink your clear water. We eat your nourishing food. Your herbs heal us when we’re sick. …

“Sometimes I forget. Lost in the confusions and worries of daily life, I forget that my body is your body, and sometimes even forget that I have a body at all. Unaware of the presence of my body and the beautiful planet around me and within me, I’m unable to cherish and celebrate the precious gift of life you have given me. Dear Mother, my deep wish is to wake up to the miracle of life. I promise to train myself to be present for myself, my life, and for you in every moment. I know that my true presence is the best gift I can offer to you, the one I love.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth Plum Village

cited: Can you Hear Mother Earth

“Many of us have forgotten that we are one with the Earth. The Earth is not a separate entity from us. We are part of the Earth, and the Earth is part of us. The Earth is not a resource for us to exploit at our will. The Earth is us; we are intimately interconnected with the Earth, just as we inter-are with all other species on Earth, too. Our spiritual ancestors have taught us about the law of interdependent co-arising: this is because that is. We are here because the Earth is here. All species are our brothers and sisters; we are all children of the Earth.

Nikon D750 f/5.6 1/400s 300mm 200 ISO

“When we see our deep interbeing with the Earth and with all species, we will see what to do—and what to stop doing—to help the situation. We will have the clarity and compassion we need to help change the situation, so that a future can be possible for us all.

“…Mother Earth has been crying out for so long. She has never stopped giving us whatever we needed: food, water and shelter, allowing us to flourish in her abundance, never asking for anything in return. …”

~Sister Chan Khong “Can You Hear Mother Earth?” July 2016 Plum Village

UN Secretary-General at UN Climate Change Conference

“Bodhi means being awake, and satttva means a living being, so bodhisattva means an awakened being.  All of us are sometimes bodhisattvas, and sometimes not.

dandelionproject_dandelionwindiiiweb

“Understanding is like water flowing in a stream. Wisdom and knowledge are solid and can block our understanding. In Buddhism, knowledge is regarded as an obstacle for understanding. If we take something to be the truth, we may cling to it so much that even if the truth comes and knocks at our door, we won’t want to let it in.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Understanding

“Further, O Mahamasti, the five categories are: Appearance, Name, Discrimination, Suchness, and Right Knowledge.

“O Mahamati, what is Appearance? Appearance is what is seen in colors, forms, figures, which are distinctive and not alike, –this is what is called Appearance.

summeriii

“O Mahamati, depending upon this appearing of things, there arises Discrimination, saying that ‘this is a jar’, ‘this is a horse, a cow, a sheep, etc.,’ that ‘this is such and such’, ‘this is no other things’ –this, O Mahamati, is called Name.

“O Mahamati, depending upon these objects thus named, their characteristics are distinguished and made manifest, whereby such various names are set up as cow, sheep, horse, etc. This is called the Discriminating of mind and objects belonging to mind.

“O Mahamaati, when one surveys names and appearances even down to atoms, one never sees a single reality, all things are unreal; for they are due to the Discrimination stirred up in one’s deceiving mind.

“O Mahamati, when is known as Suchness is non-emptiness, exactness, ultimate end, self nature, self-substance, right seeing, –these are the characteristics of Suchness.

“By myself and the Bodhisattvas and [other] Buddhas who are Tathagatas, Arhats, and All-knonwing Ones, it is said that though names differ the sense is one.”

An English translation of an excerpt of Bodhiruci’s translation cited in, Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra, pp 26-28.

Every day my anxiety grew deeper,

until it enveloped me so thickly

that I could see nothing.

Alone in an illimitable desert

I wept hopelessly, as if in a nightmare in dawn

where the open mouth blue sky wept with me.

~Nakamura Chio*

beauty

my gift to you today…awakening seeds of calmness… right diligence

*cited:

Women Poets of Japan

K Rexroth &  I Atsumi