Musings of the InsightLA teachers
AN EXCERPT FROM SPRING WASHAM'S NEW BOOK, A FIERCE HEART:
In Buddhist tradition, humanity is sometimes described as being lost in a vast ocean. I always imagine all seven billion of us, dog paddling and flailing around desperately, looking for security, some safe place to stand. This is the ocean of samsara, the endless cycle of our collective confusion. We all long for happiness, yet we unconsciously do the very things that lead to unhappiness. We drown over and over. In the midst of all the chaos, is there a place where we can find solid ground?
As we slow down and become present, we begin to see an island in the distance. We swim there and find a dry, sunny beach with a coconut tree we can sit beneath. We've found a place we're safe, a refuge from the pounding ocean. As we survey the ocean from our new perspective, we see millions of others flailing desperately, not yet able to see the island. We shout out to them, but they don't hear us. They're not ready yet. We look around at our new island home and see we are not alone. Others have taken refuge here as well.
We're living in a house of cards: all life is fragile, and we don't know what the future will bring. This is the nature of reality. It's always fluctuating; one day it's this, the next day it's that. There are multiple causes to everything that happens and an intelligence that governs everything lawfully. As soon as something arises. it begins to dissolve. Without steadiness, it can feel terrifying. The Buddha taught, "Live in joy and love, even among those who hate. Live in joy and health, even among the afflicted. Live in joy and peace, even among the troubled. Look within, be still, free from fear and attachment. Know the sweet joy of the Way."
A conversation with bell hooks & Thich Nhat Hanh:
bell hooks: I began writing a book on love because I felt that the United States is moving away from love. The civil rights movement was such a wonderful movement for social justice because the heart of it was love - loving everyone. It was believing that we can always start anew; we can always practice forgiveness. I don't have to hate any person because I can always practice forgiveness. I don't have to hate
any person because I can always reconcile. What I'm trying to
understand is... how we can be part of moving society towards love.
Thich Nhat Hanh: We should ask the question whether we are capable of loving ourselves as well as others. Are we treating our body kindly - by the way we eat, by the way we drink, by the way we work? Are we treating ourselves with enough joy and tenderness and peace? Because in the moment when we're able to smile and not to be violent in the way we look at the system, to look at ourselves with compassion, there is a change already in the world... loving ourselves means loving our community. Anything you do for yourself, you do do for the society at the same time. And anything you do for society you do for yourself also.
bell hooks: ...Martin Luther King said that you must have courage to love, that you have to have a profound will to do what is right to love, that it does not come easy.
Thich Nhat Hanh: Martin Luther King was among us as a brother, as a friend, as a leader. He was able to maintain that love alive, for his understanding and love was enough to hold everything to him. He was trying to transmit the best things to us - his goodness, his love, his non-duality. We have to be aware that crucial transmission he was making was not the transmission of power, of authority, of position, but the transmission of the dharma. It means love.