In the wake of the Charleston massacre, I led a dharma discussion for my sangha, Lansing Area Mindfulness Community, on being good spiritual friends and reflected on ways we can take care of ourselves and one another in the face of racism, bias, and injustice. I shared passages from Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s book, The Way of Tenderness, which I had been studying since its release last winter, and invited all to deeply penetrate the body as nature:
“Seeing body as nature is to directly see form
as nature, as of the earth. It is to see the pure form of life without the distortions… Rage springs up when certain embodied forms of life–blackness, queerness, and so on
–are not recognized and honored as part of nature.”
Once again, Zenju offers healing wisdom through an embodied practice of breathing. I hope you will share this far and wide with others who are seeking to reconcile with and find refuge within the body…as nature, as home:
“May the great light of this Earth surround me, May I be released from past harm and imposed hatred. May I come to recognize my existence in the true nature of life. May I come back to this breath, to this body,
as the sacred place in which I remain awake and connected to the fragrance and taste of liberation.”
And I think being human is about being in the right kind of relationships. I think being human is a process. It’s not something that we just are born with. We actually learn to celebrate our connection, learn to celebrate our love. And the thing about it — if you suffer, it does not imply love. But if you love, it does imply suffering. So part of the thing that I think what being human means to love and to suffer, to suffer with, though, compassion, not to suffer against. So to have a space big enough to suffer with. And if we can hold that space big enough, we also have joy and fun even as we suffer. And suffering will no longer divide us. And to me, that’s sort of the human journey.
I was invited to facilitate a dharma discussion for my root sangha to address the wellspring of emotions and concerns members have expressed following the tragedy in Charleston last week. Drawing on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, I entitled the talk “Good Spiritual Friends: Taking Care of Ourselves & One Another in the Face of Racism, Bias, & Injustice” and asked that we actively investigate our own perceptions, intentions and behaviors as we reflect on how to apply and cultivate the dharma in response to such devastation. We expressed our confusion, anger, shame, fear, helplessness, outrage. We cried. We breathed. We sat with our discomfort.
I asked that we continue to find refuge in practices that help to nourish and ground us as well as those that illuminate unskilfulness, awaken clear comprehension, and inspire compassionate actions.