by Ven. Charama Bhavika
I don't think anyone - be he/she liberal or conservative, religious or atheist, young or old, black or white, rich or poor - would deny that America has become a very violent country.
The recent ambush and shooting of the two police officers in Ferguson is just the most recent example. But the daily barrage of mind-numbing headlines is also a solemn testament. We are in trouble.
"Why?" questions are seldom answerable. So let's set that one aside. We don't have the time to debate the possibilities.
I think the question: "What can we do about it?" has merit.
Yet, I don't believe the answer is to clamor for "justice" or an "end to racism" or "equality" or anything of the sort. Those are all subjective, situational conditions, with the ideal of what they mean locked within the minds of each person. This is why I'm not on board with the 1% or the 99%, or attempts to vilify corporations - or people with money. I don't believe such tactics will do anything but continue to rend the fabric of society...as well as our souls.
There is a way to overcome hatred and violence, a way that requires not one single law from Congress, no court ruling, no politics, no external power, not a single bullet...and no mass protests.
The Dhammapada says, "Only love dispels hate."
The Bible tells us that love is "a still more excellent way" and features an entire chapter (1 Corinthians 13) given to its sublime qualities.
How can we love? And what does it look like?
Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn suggested that people "put it all down," drop opinions, stop wanting, stop attaching. In so doing they will be able to see clearly.
Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl spoke of the need to create a space between stimulus and response. In that space one has the power to make wise, appropriate choices.
The Christian tradition used to teach people to be still, to be quiet, to be alone with one's thoughts. It was called contemplation, and those who practiced it were known as contemplatives. When was the last time you heard that word?
I believe people have forgotten how to be quiet, to cease the constant chatter from TV, radio, other people.
I also believe that if we take the time to be quiet, even for 10-15 minutes a day, our minds will be less encumbered by clutter. We'll be able to see more clearly.
In that clarity we will realize that we already have the power to affect all the change our country - and our planet - needs. In that space, we will see the utter futility of seeking answers from Washington, from our state capitols, from national leaders, from motivational speakers. We will realize that if we put it all down, and choose to love, that we can stop the hatred, violence, and growing divisions. We - like Dorothy from Kansas - will realize we had the power all along.
The means we stop listening to Socialist Bernie Sanders. And Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz. And FOX News. And Huffington Post. And those who try to tell us that we need them, or masses of us (and, most certainly, our money), to accomplish some difficult mission, to achieve some seemingly insurmountable goal.
All we need is ourselves, and this moment.
And we need to make one decision - to love.
I can't tell you what that will mean in your life, how it will look, how it will work. I'm not you. It's not for me to decide.
However, I can only imagine what it would mean for our country, and our world.
I bet it would be beautiful.
We've tried everything else.
I believe it's time to try love.
Ven. Charama will be at Open Door on Sunday, March 29th, leading Zen Practice from 10:30 - 11:45.