"... 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.”
I’ve been pushing back against translating the term duhkha as “suffering” for quite a while now; at least since I looked more deeply into what the Buddha reportedly said about it in the Pali Canon. From my reading, it makes much better sense to describe duhkha as “stressful.”
Let me respectfully remind you
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time passes swiftly by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us must awaken. Awaken, take heed!
Do not squander your life!
Contrary to popular understanding, the Buddha did not teach "going with the flow." That's pretty much what we always already do. He taught viriya-vada, the way of effort going against the flow.
Our actions are our only true belongings. We cannot escape the consequences of our actions. Our actions are the ground upon which we stand.
I, we, all beings are of the nature to experience illness.
There is no way to avoid experiencing illness.
I, we, all beings are of the nature to die.
There is no way to avoid death