For many years after “finding” Buddhism, I thought I’d found that better way. More recently, though, such evaluations have ceased to have much meaning. Buddhist teachings can be applied in ways that liberate, and they can be applied in ways that greatly oppress. That they have a liberating potential offers some solace, and inspiration, but long gone is the newbie exuberance (and ignorance) that things like meditation and chanting will “save me and/or us,” or that “if only everyone were a Buddhist, we’d all be much happier.”
These days, I tend to think that those who are most joyful, exuberant, and alive are the ones who have faced the whole of it all, and come to some sense of peace informed by the “big mind” of our collective buddhanature. And I don’t think it’s an accident that these folks tend to be active, in service to the world, and some even actively disruptive to the systems and structures in place that oppress us all. People like Grace Lee Boggs, Joanna Macy, and Sulak Sivaraksa. Elders. Folks who I admire, and whose work I am eternally grateful for. There are so many of you. We are all so blessed by the wisdom of those who have come before us, lighting pieces of the way. This seems so easy to forget in this speed driven, modern world, where the cult of progress and “the new” drives so many of us to either reject the past wholesale, or cling to some version of the past as if nothing new could ever be worthy of consideration.
What can any of us do in the face of impending military action in Syria? What will effectively help us to keep peeling the layers of racism and systemic oppressions away, and bring about some long overdue, necessary changes to our societies and sanghas? How do we live with the reality of ecological destruction caused by the greed of global corporations, while also having the energy and wherewithal to do something about it?
What do we do, now, with all of this mud?
I have some answers. You probably do as well.
What would it look like if, instead of answering, we paused? Took a few breaths, a walk around the block, anything to give some space to the conditioned responses that so seem to drive us?
How might conversations like the ones that have been happening on Turning Wheel lately look different?
What could our world look like, if we revered slowing down more so than speeding up?