...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter... February 25, 2003
2. My Current Letter ...by Joanna Macy
3. Spiritual Practices for Social Activists ...by Joanna
4. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: DharmaNet International
5. Book Review: The Lotus Unleashed: The Buddhist Peace Movement
in South Vietnam, 1964-1966 ...Robert J. Topmiller
Peace Link: Peace Center, 352 Peace Quotes
Why are there so few Buddhist rhythm and blues bands?
Because Buddhists don't have any soul.
My Current Letter ...by Joanna Macy
want to tell you about the beauty and the blessing with which
this year began for me.
was the beauty of the high desert at midnight, in the dark of
the moon, so the black sky blazed with stars, and the circle
illumined by our fire was all we could see of the limitless
land extending around us. We had driven 65 miles north from
Las Vegas. After the garish, blaring casinos, more frenzied
than ever on New Year's Eve, the stillness felt sacred--like
a cathedral. And the knowledge of how deeply this desert was
damaged did not diminish my sense of its beauty.
were standing at the edge of the Nevada Test Site, an area the
size of Rhode Island, ravaged by over a thousand nuclear explosions.
Belonging by treaty to the Western Shoshone and Southern Paiute
Indians, who had occupied this land for millennia, it was invaded
by the U.S. Government in 1950 for purposes of "improving
and perfecting" our atomic arsenal. Most of the detonations,
many times greater than Hiroshima, have taken place within the
body of the Earth.
were about fifty men and women, coming directly from a two-day
retreat in Las Vegas. It was sponsored by the Nevada Desert
Experience, a witness begun by Franciscans twenty years ago.
Fran and I, who were invited to facilitate the retreat, were
inspired by the high-hearted Franciscan friars who took part
in it, and the stories they told of their work with poor farmers
and laborers in the Southwest. Ken Butigan, an old friend from
the Graduate Theological Union and historian of the Nevada Desert
Experience, was a gold mine of information and good humor. From
the Western Shoshone nation came Johnnie Bobb with his remarkable
wife Bonnie, bearing, with quiet courtesy, first-hand knowledge
of the suffering of their land and people.
seasoned activists were, of course, well aware of what our government's
march to war would mean for this country and the world. But
along with the dread and grief we all felt, there was resolve.
We had come to renew our commitment to justice and peace. Our
retreat at St. James Church in Las Vegas included not only informational
briefings, but prayers and songs as well, and group practices
from the Work That Reconnects.
the last day of the year, we held two strong sessions of Deep
Time work. Using music and role-plays, we evoked our ancestors
of centuries past, and addressed the seventh generation to follow
us. We imagined the courage and guidance these past and future
beings would want to give us for this present, pivotal moment
in human history. So, when we reached the Test Site an hour
before midnight, all of time seemed to surround us under that
the barbed wire fence, we built a fire and gathered in a circle
around it. A low hillock blocked the lights from the main gate,
where the sheriff's officers waited in their trailer. By the
flickering flames, prayers were spoken, sung, danced, and drummed.
We moved into the now-familiar Elm Dance, stepping carefully
in rhythm through the rocks and cactus. Then, for each of us
to make a New Year's resolution--it being now 2003--we separated
for a short while and walked out into the night-black desert,
listening to what it, and our hearts, would ask of us.
was so cold by then, I didn't follow suit, but knelt close to
the fire. Instantly, in one word, a resolve took form. The word
was "steady." To be steady in my mind, my life, my
work. Not to be buffeted by fears, frazzled with rage, jerked
around by haste and distractions, but to proceed with the steadiness
I sensed in these Franciscans and Western Shoshone. Just the
thought of it let me breathe deeper--and I claimed it for the
we all reassembled, we joined hands and began to move toward
the road that led down to the gate. We were singing. Everyone
'neath his vine and fig tree will live in peace and unafraid…
And into plowshares beat our swords… More lights switched
on at the gate and figures in khaki uniforms moved out from
the trailer, waiting. The 34 of us who had decided to "cross
the line," and commit civil disobedience by entering the
Test Site, were in the lead. Fran was among them, but I was
too cold. Since arrest involved an indefinite period in an open
holding pen, I figured I'd spend that time waiting in a heated
car. So I stayed at the edge, close enough to listen, as the
group stopped before crossing the line, and fell into silence.
Bobb was in their midst, speaking to them and smudging them
with lit sage. Formally, with quiet dignity, this Western Shoshone
in his long gray braids gave them permission to enter the Test
Site. He welcomed them onto the land that was his to honor and
protect. His words, which I could barely hear, conveyed the
wisdom of a people who loved their land and knew they belonged
to it through all time. He made no mention of its destruction,
of the ravaging poisons exploded in its body, contaminating
its life. That vast violation seemed in no way to affect his
respect for this land, his responsibility for its care.
is the blessing I want to carry with me into this year. It tells
me that even the most terrible wounding of Earth need not damage
our love for it. Despite all rage and despair over the destruction
of life, the will to protect it is deeper yet. It can hold us
steady, as we act for the healing of our world. Steady for the
Spiritual Practices for Social Activists ...by Joanna Macy
heal our society, our psyches must heal as well. Haunted by
the desperate needs of our time and beset by more commitments
than we can easily carry, we may wonder how to find the time
and energy for spiritual disciplines. Few of us feel free to
take to the cloister or the meditation cushion to seek personal
do not need to withdraw from the world or spend long hours in
solitary prayer or meditation to begin to wake up to the spiritual
power within us. The activities and encounters of our daily
lives can serve as the occasion for that kind of discovery.
I would like to share five simple exercises that can help in
exercises--on death, loving-kindness, compassion, mutual power,
and mutual recognition--happen to be adapted from the Buddhist
tradition. As part of our planetary heritage, they belong to
us all. No belief system is necessary, only a readiness to attend
to the immediacy of your own experience. They will be most useful
if read slowly with a quiet mind (a few deep breaths will help),
and if put directly into practice in the presence of others.
If you read them aloud for others or put them on tape, allow
several seconds when three dots (...) are marked, and when more
are marked (??), leave additional time, as appropriate.
spiritual paths begin by recognizing the transiency of human
life. Medieval Christians honored this in the mystery play of
Everyman. Don Juan, the Yaqui sorcerer, taught that the enlightened
warrior walks with death at his shoulder. To confront and accept
the inevitability of our dying releases us from attachments
and frees us to live boldly. An initial meditation on the Buddhist
path involves reflection on the twofold fact that: "death
is certain" and "the time of death is uncertain."
In our world today, nuclear weaponry, serving in a sense as
a spiritual teacher, does that meditation for us, for it tells
us that we can die together at any moment, without warning.
When we allow the reality of that possibility to become conscious,
it is painful, but it also jolts us awake to life's vividness,
its miraculous quality, heightening our awareness of the beauty
and uniqueness of each object, and each being.
an occasional practice in daily life:
at the person you encounter (stranger or friend). Let the realization
arise in you that this person lives on an endangered planet.
He or she may die in a nuclear war; or from the poisons spreading
through our world. Observe that face, unique, vulnerable...Those
eyes still can see; they are not empty sockets...the skin is
still intact...Become aware of your desire that this person
be spared such suffering and horror, feel the strength of that
desire...keep breathing...Also let the possibility arise in
your consciousness that this may be the person you happen to
be with when you die...that face the last you see...that hand
the last you touch...it might reach out to help you then, to
comfort, to give water...Open to the feelings for this person
that surface in you with the awareness of this possibility...
Open to the levels of caring and connection it reveals in you.
kindness, or metta, is the first of the four "Abodes of
the Buddha," also known as the Brahmaviharas. Meditation
to arouse and sustain loving-kindness is a staple of the Sarvodaya
Shramadana Movement for community development in Sri Lanka,
and is accorded minutes of silence at the outset of every meeting.
Organizers and village workers find it useful in developing
motivation for service and overcoming feelings of hostility
or inadequacy in themselves and others.
first received instruction in this meditation from a nun in
the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Here is a version that I have
adapted for use in the West.
your eyes and begin to relax, exhaling to expel tension. Now
center in on the normal flow of the breath, letting go of all
extraneous thoughts as you passively watch the breathing-in
call to mind someone you love very dearly...in your mind's eye
see the face of that beloved one...silently speak her or his
name...Feel your love for this being, like a current of energy
coming through you...Now let your-self experience how much you
want this person to be free from fear; how in-tensely you desire
that this person be released from greed and ill-will, from confusion
and sorrow and the causes of suffering...That desire, in all
its sincerity and strength, is metta, the great loving kindness??
to feel that warm energy flow coming through the heart, see
in your mind's eye those with whom you share your daily life,
family members, close friends and colleagues, the people you
live and work with...Let them appear now as in a circle around
you. Behold them one by one, silently speaking their names...and
direct to each in turn that same current of loving--kindness...Among
these beings may be some with whom you are uncomfortable, in
conflict, or tension. With those especially, experience your
desire that each be free from fear, from hatred, free from greed
and ignorance and the causes of suffering??
allow to appear, in wider concentric circles your relations,
and your acquaintances... Let the beam of loving-kindness play
on them as well, pausing on the faces that appear randomly in
your mind's eye. With them as well, experience how much you
want their freedom from greed, fear; hatred and confusion, how
much you want all beings to be happy??
them, in concentric circles that are wider yet, appear now all
beings with whom you share this planet-time. Though you have
not met, your lives are interconnected in ways beyond knowing.
To these beings as well, direct the same powerful current of
loving-kindness. Experience your desire and your intention that
each awaken from fear and hatred, from greed and confusion...that
all beings be released from suffering
in the ancient Buddhist meditation, we direct the loving-kindness
now to all the "hungry ghosts, " the restless spirits
that roam in suffering, still prey to fear and confusion. May
they find rest...may they rest in the great loving kindness
and in the deep peace it brings??
the power of our imagination let us move out now beyond our
planet, out into the universe, into other solar systems, other
galaxies, other Buddha--fields. The current of loving-kindness
is not affected by physical distances, and we direct it now,
as if aiming a beam of light, to all centers of conscious life...And
to all sentient beings everywhere we direct our heartfelt wish
that they, too, be free of fear and greed, of hatred and confusion
and the causes of suffering...May all beings be happy??
as if from out there in the interstellar distances, we turn
and behold our own planet, our home...We see it suspended there
in the blackness of space, blue and white jewel planet turning
in the light of its sun??Slowly we approach it, drawing nearer,
nearer, returning to this part of it, this region, this place...And
as you approach this place, let yourself see the being you know
best of all...the person it has been given you to be in this
lifetime...You know this person better than anyone else does,
know its pain and its hopes, know its need for love, know how
hard it tries...Let the face of this being, your own face, appear
before you...speak the name you are called in love...And experience,
with that same strong energy-current of loving-kindness, how
deeply you desire that this being be free from fear, released
from greed and hatred, liberated from ignorance and confusion
and the causes of suffering...The great loving-kindness linking
you to all beings is now directed to your own self...know now
the fullness of it.
to most spiritual traditions, as well as to the systems view
of the world, is the recognition that we are not separate, isolated
entities, but integral and organic parts of the vast web of
life. As such, we are like neurons in a neural net, through
which flow currents of awareness of what is happening to us,
as a species and as a planet. In that context, the pain we feel
for our world is a living testimony to our interconnectedness
with it. If we deny this pain, we become like blocked and atrophied
neurons, deprived of life's flow and weakening the larger body
in which we take being. But if we let it move through us, we
affirm our belonging; our collective awareness increases. We
can open to the pain of the world in confidence that it can
neither shatter nor isolate us, for we are not objects that
can break. We are resilient patterns within a vaster web of
we have been conditioned to view ourselves as separate, competitive
and thus fragile entities, it takes practice to relearn this
kind of resilience. A good way to begin is by practicing simple
openness, as in the exercise of "breathing through,"
adapted from an ancient Buddhist meditation for the development
your eyes, focus attention on your breathing. Don't try to breathe
any special way, slow or long. Just watch the breathing as it
happens in and out. Note the accompanying sensations at the
nostrils or upper lip, in the chest or abdomen. Stay passive
and alert, like a cat by a mouse hole??
you watch the breath, you note that it happens by itself; without
your will, without your deciding each time to inhale or exhale...It's
as though you're being breathed--being breathed by life? Just
as everyone in this room, in this city, in this planet now,
is being breathed, sustained in a vast, breathing web of life??
visualize your breath as a stream or ribbon of air passing through
you. See it flow up through your nose, down through your windpipe
and into your lungs. Now from your lungs take it through your
heart. Picture it flowing through your heart and out through
an opening there to recon-nect with the larger web of life.
Let the breath-stream, as it passes through you, appear as one
loop within that vast web, connecting you with it??
open your awareness to the suffering that is present in the
world. Drop for now all defenses and open to your knowledge
of that suffering. Let it come as concretely as you can...concrete
images of your fellow beings in pain and need, in fear and isolation,
in prisons, hospitals, tenements, hunger camps...no need to
strain for these images, they are present to you by virtue of
our interexistence. Relax and just let them surface...the vast
and countless hardships of our fellow humans, and of our animal
brothers and sisters as well, as they swim the seas and fly
the air of this ailing planet...Now breathe in the pain like
dark granules on the stream of air; up through your nose, down
through your trachea, lungs and heart, and out again into the
world net...You are asked to do nothing for now, but let it
pass through your heart??Be sure that stream flows through and
out again; don't hang on to the pain...surrender it for now
to the healing resources of life's vast web??
Shantideva, the Buddhist saint, we can say, "Let all sorrows
ripen in me." We help them ripen by passing them through
our hearts...making good rich compost out of all that grief...so
we can learn from it, enhancing our larger, collective knowing??
no images or feelings arise and there is only blankness, grey
and numb, breathe that through. The numbness itself is a very
real part of our world...
if what surfaces for you is not the pain of other beings so
much as your own personal suffering, breathe that through, too.
Your own anguish is an integral part of the grief of our world,
and arises with it??
you feel an ache in the chest, a pressure in the rib cage, as
if the heart would break, that is all right. Your heart is not
an object that can break...But if it were, they say the heart
that breaks open can hold the whole universe. Your heart is
that large. Trust it. Keep breathing??
guided meditation serves to introduce the process of breathing
through, which, once familiar, becomes useful in daily life
in the many situations that confront us with painful information.
By breathing through the bad news, rather than bracing ourselves
against it, we can let it strengthen our sense of belonging
in the larger web of being. It helps us remain alert and open,
whether reading the newspaper, receiving criticism, or simply
being present to a person who suffers.
activists working for peace and justice, and those dealing most
directly with the griefs of our time, the practice helps prevent
burnout. Reminding us of the collective nature of both our prob-lems
and our power, it offers a healing measure of humility. It can
save us from self-righteousness. For when we can take in our
world's pain, accepting it as the price of our caring, we let
it inform our acts without needing to inflict it as a punishment
on others who are, at the present moment, less involved.
GREAT BALL OF MERIT
which is grief in the grief of others is but one side of the
coin. The other side is joy in the joy of others--which in Buddhism
is called mudita. To the extent that we allow ourselves to identify
with the sufferings of other beings, we can identify with their
strengths as well. This is very important for a sense of adequacy
and resilience, because we face a time of great challenge that
demands of us more commitment, endurance and courage than we
can dredge up out of our individual supply. We can learn to
draw on the other neurons in the neural net, and view them in
a grateful and celebratory fashion, as so much "money in
practice is adapted from the Meditation of Jubilation and Transformation,
taught in a Buddhist text written two thousand years ago at
the outset of the Mahayana tradition. You can find the original
version in chapter six of the Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 Lines.
I find it very useful today in two forms. The one closer to
the ancient practice is this:
and close your eyes. Open your awareness to the fellow beings
who share with you this planet-time...in this town...in this
country...and in other lands??See their multitudes in your mind's
eye?? Now let your awareness open wider yet, to encompass all
beings who ever lived...of all races and creeds and walks of
life, rich, poor, kings and beggars, saints and sinners...see
the vast vistas of these fellow beings stretching into the distance,
like successive mountain ranges?? Now consider the fact that
in each of these innumerable lives some act of merit was performed.
No matter how stunted or deprived the life, there was a gesture
of generosity, a gift of love, an act of valor or self-sacrifice?
on the battlefield or workplace, hospital or home...From these
beings in their endless multitudes arose actions of courage,
kindness, of teaching and healing. Let yourself see these manifold
and immeasurable acts of merit??
imagine you can sweep together these acts of merit...sweep them
into a pile in front of you...use your hands...pile them up...pile
them into a heap viewing it with gladness and gratitude...Now
pat them into a ball. It is the Great Ball of Merit...hold it
now and weigh it in your hands...rejoice in it, knowing that
no act of goodness is ever lost. It remains ever and always
a present resource...a means for the transformation of life...So
now, with jubilation and gratitude, you turn that great ball...turn
it over...over...into the healing of our world.
we can learn from contemporary science and visualize in the
holographic model of reality, our lives interpenetrate. In the
fluid tapestry of space-time, there is at root no distinction
between self and other. The acts and intentions of others are
like seeds that can germinate and bear fruit through our own
lives, as we take them into awareness and dedicate, or "turn
over," that awareness to our own empowerment. Thoreau,
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dor-othy Day, and countless nameless
heroes and heroines of our own day, all can be part of our Ball
of Merit, from which we can draw inspiration and endurance.
Other traditions feature notions simi-lar to this, such as the
"cloud of witnesses" of which St. Paul spoke, or the
Treasury of Merit in the Catholic Church.
second, more workaday, version of the Ball of Merit medi-tation
helps us open to the powers in people around us. It is in direct
contrast to the commonly accepted, patriarchal notion of power
as something personally owned and exerted over others. The exercise
prepares us to bring expectant attention to our encounters with
other beings, to view them with fresh openness and curiosity
as to how they can enhance our Ball of Merit. We can play this
inner game with someone opposite us on the bus or across the
bargaining table. It is especially useful when dealing with
a person with whom we may be in conflict.
does this person add to my Great Ball of Merit? What gifts of
intellect can enrich our common store? What reserves of stub-born
endurance can she or he offer? What flights of fancy or powers
of love lurk behind those eyes? What kindness or courage hides
in those lips, what healing in those hands?
as with the breathing-through exercise, we open ourselves to
the presence of these strengths, inhaling our awareness of them.
As our awareness grows, we experience our gratitude for them
and our capacity to partake...
we let our perceptions of the powers of others make us feel
inadequate. Alongside an eloquent colleague, we can feel in-articulate;
in the presence of an athlete we can feel weak and clumsy; and
we can come to resent both ourself and the other person. In
the light of the Great Ball of Merit, however, the gifts and
good fortunes of others appear not as competing challenges,
but as resources we can honor and take pleasure in. We can learn
to play detective, spying out treasures for the enhancement
of life from even the unlikeliest material. Like air, and sun,
and water, they form part of our common good.
addition to releasing us from the mental cramp of envy, this
spiritual offers two other rewards. One is pleasure in our own
acuity, as our merit-detecting ability improves. The second
is the response of others who, though ignorant of the game we
are playing, sense something in our manner that invites them
to disclose more of the person they can be.
TO SEE EACH OTHER
exercise is derived from the Buddhist practice of the Brahma-viharas,
also known as the Four Abodes of the Buddha, which are loving-kindness,
compassion, joy in the joy of others, and equanimity. Adapted
for use in a social context, it helps us to see each other more
truly and experience the depths of our interconnections.
workshops, I offer this as a guided meditation, with partici-pants
sitting in pairs facing each other. At its close, I encourage
them to proceed to use it, or any portion they like, as they
go about the business of their daily lives. It is an excellent
antidote to boredom, when our eye falls on another person, say
on the subway, or waiting in the check-out line. It charges
that idle movement with beauty and discovery. It also is useful
when dealing with people whom we are tempted to dislike or disregard;
it breaks open our accustomed ways of viewing them. When used
like this, as a meditation-in-action, one does not, of course,
gaze long and deeply into the other's eyes, as in the guided
exercise. A seemingly casual glance is enough.
guided, group form goes like this:
in pairs. Face each other: Stay silent. Take a couple of deep
breaths, centering yourself and exhaling tension...Look into
each others eyes...If you feel discomfort or an urge to laugh
or look away, just note that embarrassment with patience and
gentleness, and come back, when you can, to your partner's eyes.
You may never see this person again: the opportunity to behold
the uniqueness of this particular human being is given to you
you look into this person's eyes, let yourself become aware
of the powers that are there...Open your awareness to the gifts
and strengths and the potentialities in this being?Behind those
eyes are unmeasured reserves of courage and intelligence...of
patience, endurance, wit and wisdom...There are gifts there,
of which this person her/ himself is unaware...Consider what
these powers could do for the healing of our planet, if they
were to be believed and acted on??As you consider that, let
yourself become aware of your desire that this person be free
from fear...Experience how much you want this being to be free
from fear, free from greed, released from hatred and from sorrow
and from the causes of suffering??Know that what you are now
experiencing is the great loving-kindness??
as you look into those eyes, let yourself become aware of the
pain that is there. There are sorrows accumulated in that life,
as in all human lives, though you can only guess at them. There
are disappointments and failures and losses and loneliness and
abuse...there are hurts beyond the telling...Let yourself open
to that pain, to hurts that this person may never have told
another being??You cannot fix that pain, but you can be with
it. As you let yourself simply be with that suffering, know
that what you are experiencing is the great compassion. It is
very good for the healing of our world
you look into the eyes of this person, consider how good it
would be to work together...on a joint project, toward a common
goal...What it could be like, taking risks together...conspiring
together in zest and laughter...celebrating the successes, consoling
each other over the setbacks, forgiv-ing each other when you
make mistakes...and simply being there for each other??As you
open to that possibility, what you open to is the great wealth:
the pleasure in each other's powers, the joy in each other's
let your awareness drop deep within you like a stone, sinking
below the level of what words can express, to the deep web of
relationship that underlies all experience. It is the web of
life in which you have taken being, in which you are supported,
and that interweaves us through all space and time...See the
being before you as if seeing the face of one who, at another
time, another place, was your lover or your enemy, your parent
or your child??And now you meet again on this brink of time...And
you know your lives are as intricately interwoven as nerve cells
in the mind of a great being??Out of that vast net you cannot
fall...no stupidity, or failure, or cowardice, can ever sever
you from that living web. For that is what you are??Rest in
that knowing. Rest in the Great Peace...Out of it we can act,
we can venture everything...and let every encounter be a homecoming
to our true nature...Indeed it is so??
doing this exercise we realize that we do not have to be par-ticularly
noble or saint-like in order to wake up to the power of our
connection with other beings. In our time that simple awakening
is the gift the Bomb holds for us. For all its horror and stupidity,
the Bomb, like the toxins we spew into our world, is also the
manifestation of an awesome spiritual truth--the truth about
the hell we create for ourselves when we cease to learn how
to love. Saints, mystics and prophets throughout the ages saw
that law; now all can see it and none can escape its consequences.
So we are caught now in a narrow place where we realize that
Moses, Lao-Tzu, the Buddha, Jesus and our own inner hearts were
right all along; and we are as scared and frantic as a cornered
rat, and as dangerous. But if we let it, that narrow cul-de-sac
can turn into a birth canal, pressing and pushing us through
the darkness of pain, until we are delivered into...what? Love
seems too weak a word. It is, as Saint Paul said, "the
glory to be revealed in us." It stirs in us now.
us to regard the Bomb (or the dying seas, the poisoned air)
as a monstrous injustice to us would suggest that we never took
seriously the injunction to love. Perhaps we thought all along
that Gautama and Jesus were kidding, or their teachings meant
only for saints. But now we see, as an awful revelation, that
we are all called to be saints--not good necessarily, or pious,
or devout--but saints in the sense of just loving each other.
One wonders what terrors this know-ledge must hold that we fight
it so, and flee from it in such pain. Can it be that the Bomb,
by which we can extinguish all life, can tell us this? Can force
us to face the terrors of love? Can be the occasion of our birth?
that possibility we take heart. Even in confusion and fear,
with all our fatigues and petty faults, we can let that awareness
work in and through our lives. Such simple exercises as those
offered here can help us do that, help us to begin to see ourselves
and each other with fresh eyes.
me close with the same suggestion that closes our workshops.
It is a practice that is a corollary to the earlier death meditation,
where we recognize that the person we meet may die in a nuclear
war. Look at the next person you see. It may be lover, child,
co-worker, bus driver, or your own face in the mirror. Regard
him or her with the recognition that:
this person are gifts for the healing of our world. In him/her
are powers that can redound to the joy of all beings.
TO OUR ADVERSARIES
we go forth for the healing of our world, there are forces and
institutions which we will and must challenge. The men and women
who serve these structures will appear as our opponents. Here
is a formal group practice which helps to free us from fear
and illwill toward such persons, and to ground us in an all-embracing
teacher Thich Nhat Hanh encourages his students to express their
respect, gratitude, and goodwill by the act of bowing. Because
some Westerners are uncomfortable with notion of bowing, he
calls it "Touching the Earth"--for their elders and
teachers, the Buddha Dharma and the spiritual community, their
original faith traditions, their ancestors, their homeplace
on the planet. This particular practice for honoring our adversaries
was composed by an ordained senior member of his Order of Interbeing,
stands with enough room in front of them to kneel and touch
the ground with hands and forehead. If there is an altar or
emblem, like an Earth flag, they can be facing it. The guide
reads the text aloud, pausing after each paragraph, at which
point everyone (guide included) "touches the Earth"--putting
knees, hands, and then head to the floor. Ten paragraphs, ten
bows. Some may prefer to do a full prostration; others may choose
to abstain from the practice and just listen from the sidelines.
Be sure they feel comfortable in doing so. Maintain a slow,
unhurried pace throughout.
the Earth for Our Adversaries ...By Caitriona Reed
who deliberately engage in the destruction of the environment
for your own profit, you show me how much I value what is honest,
what is generous, what has been clearly thought through, what
is expressive of love for this planet home and our human and
nonhuman fellow beings. So I bow to you in gratitude and touch
bring forth in me the passion and love I feel for this life-bearing
land, its soil, air and waters, and the beings they nurture;
the passion I feel for integrity and strong, sustainable community.
Because of the strength with which I resist your actions, I
have seen how strong my
and passion really are. I bow to you in gratitude and touch
the pain I feel when I allow myself to witness the pain of the
world is no less than your pain--you, who perpetuate destruction
and cut yourselves off from needs of the present and the generations
of the future, I bow to you in compassion and touch the Earth.
the pain of greed, alienation and fear are no less than the
pain of sorrow and mourning for what is lost, I bow to you in
compassion and touch the Earth.
the power of my anger, transforming itself into love for the
beauty and integrity of all life-forms, and for the bright energy
of my passion for justice and the health of all beings, I bow
to you in gratitude and touch the Earth.
we all want to be happy, to feel ourselves intact and part of
a single whole, for that shared longing, I bow to you in compassion
and touch the Earth.
you challenge me by your actions, demanding that I release my
attachment to the belief that my view, my understanding, is
the only correct one, I bow to you in gratitude and touch the
you who teach me that the mind is a limitless source, a miracle
capable of manifesting as love, as greed, as fear, capable of
clarity or delusion, blind to the consequence of action or open
to the boundless coherence of all that we do and experience
in life. For you who show me what I myself am capable of when
I let my life be governed by fear and greed, great awesome teachers,
I bow to you in gratitude and touch the Earth.
awe of the mind's capability for delusion and alienation that
calls me so insistently to understanding and joy, I bow to you
and touch the Earth.
the understanding that all this will pass and with love in my
heart, I bow to you and touch the Earth.
Gateways to Buddhism is an online clearinghouse for Buddhist
study and practice resources. It is home to Dharmanet's own
in-house databases and collections, as well as providing links
to all online Buddhist resources, large and small. This public
service is coordinated by DharmaNet International and is funded
entirely through donations.
offers this www/ftp site freely in hopes of helping Buddhists
and other interested individuals around the globe to find Dhamma
teachings and teachers, to help support Dhamma centers in all
traditions, to promote dialogue and communication, and to help
build a vital and cooperative online Buddhist community.
The Lotus Unleashed: The Buddhist Peace Movement in South
Vietnam, 1964-1966 ...Robert J. Topmiller
C. Tucker, author of VIETNAM
major contribution to the study of the Vietnam war."
the Vietnam War, Vietnamese Buddhist peace activists made extraordinary
sacrifices—including self-immolation—to try to end
the fighting. They hoped to fashion a neutralist government
to broker peace with the Communists and expel the Americans.
the first study in English of this vitally important mass movement,
Robert J. Topmiller describes Buddhist efforts to create a non-aligned
Third Force. He explores South Vietnamese attitudes toward the
war, the insurgency, and U.S. intervention, and lays bare internal
dissension in the U.S. military. Far from being ineffective
or weak, the Buddhist peace movement caused a crisis within
the United States government. The Lotus Unleashed is one of
the few studies to illuminate the impact of internal Vietnamese
politics on U.S. decision-making and to examine the power of
a nonviolent movement to confront a violent superpower.
J. Topmiller is visiting professor of history at Eastern Kentucky
Peace Center, 352 Peace Quotes
It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to
them. - Alfred Adler
Peace is not the product of a victory or a command. It has
no finishing line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of
achievement. Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many
decisions. - Oscar Arias
That's all nonviolence is - organized love. - Joan Baez
Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them more. -
Urban Dharma Newsletter Archives:
Los Angeles Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue:
Subscribe or Unsubscribe: