radical bodhicitta | justice is my love language

When I took the test for the 5 love languages years ago, it came as no surprise that my primary love language is acts of service (followed by quality time).

Last Wednesday, I was invited to give a dharma talk on social justice at my root sangha and opened with Dr. Cornel West’s oft-quoted observation that:

“to be human, you must bear witness to justice.
justice is what love looks like in public —
to be human is to love and be loved.”


It is a powerful reminder that love and justice are seeded in the heart.

As often as I have revisited this quote, it was only in that moment — in the quiet, sacred space of the Temple and in the presence of fellow dharma practitioners who offered their full awareness and open hearts to bear witness to my insights about the dharma and its threads to justice — that I realized that I feel most embraced, understood, and cared for by those who speak to me from a heart centered in justice, liberation, and healing.

I receive and express love in the form of justice, liberation, and transformative healing. This is how I embody the call to serve and how I put my faith into action: by turning toward and lifting up that which helps us to reclaim and prioritize our joy, wellness, and wholeness over and above the madness of hate, violence, and oppression.

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radical bodhicitta is the new digital home for my expanding work in healing justice.


touching the earth | a reflection on zenju’s “Way-Seeking Mind of Martin Luther King Jr.”

As a Zen practitioner in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, my study of his teachings and personal history provided a surprising lesson about the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This gleaming insight into their relationship renewed my appreciation and broadened my understanding of King’s legacy as it elucidated the global impact of his compassionate mission. Several years ago, inspired by the “inter-being” between these two leaders as well as my own dharma as a Black American woman on this path of practice, I led my root sangha in the Touching the Earth prostrations to honor King and Thay as spiritual teachers.

Since then, my Monday evening Yin+Yang Yoga class has fallen on this national holiday. Each asana that brings our hearts closer to the earth (like these two favorites: Child’s Pose + Anahatasana) becomes a prostration, in which we fully embody the mindfulness practice of remembrance and reconciliation. We remember our origins and connections: to ancestors, by blood and spirit; to this Earth that sustains us and upon which our complex and interwoven histories have been built. We may began to penetrate the deep suffering emanating from our painful histories, which continue to manifest in new forms and to impact our experiences and abilities to relate to one another because of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, disability and a whole slew of “differences” that seem to separate us. Breath by compassion-filled breath, we may began to reconcile these histories as we acknowledge, cradle, and heal our own suffering. We give it back to this wondrous Earth to absorb and transform it, as from the mud blooms a lotus. In every class, I invite the practitioners to cultivate compassionate understanding of their bodies, minds and hearts through the alignment of breath and posture. Generating such mindfulness and loving awareness for ourselves teaches us how to skillfully extend compassion and loving-kindness to others.When we abide in mindfulness, our senses become clear and fully attuned to the spectrum of beauty and suffering in the world.  We acknowledge our own contribution to that stream–how our actions increase beauty or increase suffering. We make amends when we cause suffering and begin anew, watering seeds of compassion. Each heart-driven act–embodied on the mat, the cushion, among our beloveds and within our communities–commemorates the King’s legacy. On this path, as teacher and practitioner, I know I am a continuation of Dr. King.

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[Originally posted 31 January 2013; Updated 20 January 2014]


Related

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel |The Way-Seeking Mind of Martin Luther Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. | King’s Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Letter for Thich Nhat Hanh
Rev. Dr. Andrew C. Kennedy | Martin Luther King Jr. + Thich Nhat Hanh

[Broken links updated 16 January 2017]