Requiem: Prelude, Coda, Encore
I didn’t know where to physically place this section in the body of this writing. An overlapping marker on the timestream — the beginning, the end, the looping back to repeat for impact and emphasis — it wasn’t a part of the original thought-piece (consciously, anyway).
Read it as you will: first, for a sneak peek; or last as a behind-the-scene bonus. Either way, I offer it as insight into process and synchronicity.
Eager though I was to get these pressing thoughts out of my head, there is something to be said for respecting intuition. For cultivating shamatha. Pausing, stepping away, and allowing things to simmer and deepen when you sense your work needs more time to stew (like any slow-cooked dish). In those days between drafts, I got a ping-back notifying me that another site had linked to the piece I’d written four years ago. Turns out Baltimore + Beyond: Mindfulness Community had just added a million hoodies, a million hearts to its updated list of selected dharma readings to be shared at its activists and people of color gatherings.
I had not read it since 2012 and was astonished that I could have just as easily written yesterday about James Means or Joe McKnight and all the others like Sandra Bland and Rekia Boyd whose names have become engraved upon our wailing hearts.
Understand then — yes, really dwell in the cries of despair and protest and the calls for action until clear comprehension prevails — why being here, stuck in this maniacal cycle is fucking tiresome. To exist in it and to constantly have to explain it to people who have not the ears to hear or hearts to feel. We are weary. But we are (getting) ready.
We cannot afford to participate in the delusion
that we are absolutely powerless,
that change can happen without us,
that our fears are over-hyped,
that things will be alright,
that our right to protect our well-being
should take a backseat to playing nice
in the face of bigotry, violence, and injustice.
These times are too dangerous to co-sign craziness.
I cannot, will not, and unabashedly refuse do it.
And my loved ones, who hear me say this repeatedly, will attest that this is more than a favored turn-of-phrase.
Not co-signing craziness is at the heart of my commitment to the work of being a good spiritual friend!
This is the craziness that manifests as willful ignorance, denial, and delusion in our personal lives as well as in the world-at-large.
In our current state of crisis where cultural warfare is being waged against Otherness, it is the absurdity that refuses to see how quickly the vile rhetoric spewed throughout the campaign has become reality in the form of bold-faced white supremacists being appointed to key roles of leadership in the new (return-to-the-dark-ages) administration.
It is the problematic hushed-and-haloed spiritual and inspirational messaging (gaslighting wrapped in sanctimony), blanketly chiding the wounded:
to transcend anger because we’re bigger than that,
to not abandon or “throw away” folks who don’t regard humanity as we do,
to try to understand those who refuse to understand us,
to yield to our divine capacity for open-heartedness and forgiveness for they know not what they do…because they are suffering too,
to trust thin assurances that — guys, c’mon — it’s only class resentment.
Let’s get very clear:
Resentment is a near-enemy of hate. Resentment + Implicit Bias = A Gateway to the -Isms.
And through that narrow passage, it is a short walk to discrimination, bigotry, and the bartering of lives for the false promise of economic and job security from a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobe with no basic skills in decency and civility, let alone diplomacy.
Sorry, folks, platitudes and passivity cannot transform hate and delusion.
“And this deluded person, overcome by delusion, his mind possessed by delusion, kills living beings, takes what is not given, goes after another person’s wife, tells lies, and induces others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering.”
“So what do you think, Kalamas: Are these qualities skillful or unskillful?”
“Blameworthy or blameless?”
“Criticized by the wise or praised by the wise?”
“Criticized by the wise, lord.”
“When adopted & carried out, do they lead to harm & to suffering, or not?”
“When adopted & carried out, they lead to harm & to suffering. That is how it appears to us.”
“So, as I said, Kalamas:
‘Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.”
When you know for yourselves that, “These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering” — then you should abandon them.’
Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.
“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’
When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.
from the “Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas” (AN 3.65),
translated from Pali by Thanissaro Bhikku
Now is the time to unburden ourselves. To release the fetters that bind us to a dysfunctional codependency on a corrupt system that has plotted for centuries to diminish our agency, deny our wholeness, and compromise our right to survive and thrive. To get clear. To get equipped. To get connected to good spiritual friends who are willing to leverage their privilege to aid and abet us as accomplices on the path to anti-oppression and liberation.
straight outta the dhamma:
In the foundational Buddhist tome, Visuddhimagga, the commentaries on the Divine Abodes (brahma-viharas) make reference to the “near” and “far” (or remote) enemies of these four esteemed virtues — love, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. Near enemies bear such close resemblance to the virtue itself that it is easy to miss the unskillful dimensions. On the other hand, far enemies are easily recognized as the opposite of the virtue. For example, pity can be seen as a near enemy of compassion and apathy its far enemy.
for more skillful understanding:
White Privilege, Resentment + Politics
- Gina Crosley-Corcoran | Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person
- Chauncey Devega | There Was a Market for White Resentment
- The New Yorker | Aftermath: 16 Writers on Trumps America
- Tim Wise | On White Privilege