I am delighted to offer this from a dharma talk offered by one of my senior students in training to become a Zen Naturalist Dharma Teacher. Andre is based in Toronto, and runs, along with his wife, Catalina, Spirit Loft.
I don’t wish to sound all “Polly-annish” about life. It’s not “all good.” Shitty things happen and there may be times when gratitude is an incorrect response.
And with that acknowledgment, I will still stand by the assertion that sharing what we love with joy and appreciation is good medicine for the dis-ease of the self-contraction.
Walking Meditation Gatha:
The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But, on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.
The title of today's post is a quote attributed to the Buddha who is said to have often repeated, "I teach only one thing: suffering and the end of suffering."
Some smarty-pants once said, "Isn't that two things?" But obviously, if you understand -- truly understand -- suffering, you understand its causes and thus its ending.
If I were writing my book, Mindfulness Yoga, at the current time, the biggest change would be in the definition and my description of "mindfulness" itself!
"... our identities in terms of race, sexuality, and gender cannot be ignored for the sake of some kind of imagined invisibility or to attain spiritual transcendence.”
--- Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
I started out writing in April (for Earth Day) about the eco-biological context for human life as a way to address and critique human exceptionalism. Like many things I've started during this pandemic, it got back-burnered. Then the conversation shifted to race and White Supremacy and that seemed related enough to return to this essay. Finally, the 'two truths' doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism says that the absolute and the relative are equally true, but many Buddhists fail to act upon that and seem to take the absolute as "more real" than the relative or conventional truth and then weaponize the absolute as a bypass of the conventional. This may have led to this essay being an incoherent mess.
Dana is a much mis-understood practice that goes right to the heart of the teachings and "project" of Buddhism and Yoga: the transcendence of self-clinging.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have found myself moved by the many stories of simple human kindness: the neighbor who leaves some rolls of toilet paper on their neighbor's door; those who have been volunteering to do grocery runs so that the more vulnerable among us need not go out to market; the nurses and doctors working long shifts and selflessly isolating themselves from thier families. Love takes many shapes...
If there is any real doubt that contemporary western Buddhism has been completely co-opted by neo-liberal ideology, let’s look at the hidden assumptions and positions in the description of an up-coming Tricycle online course entitled “The Whole Path: Kindness, Meditation, and Wisdom.”