Life is a balance of effort and letting go. This talk explores how we engage in our practice without over striving and find the sweet spot of the middle way.
This is a post I wrote in 2016, and it is just as pertinent now.
Hatred Will Never Let You Face the Beast in Man
Buddha taught us that we must cultivate compassion for all beings, without exception. This doesn’t mean that we stand by passively while people trample over us, compassion isn’t incompatible with firm boundaries that declare, “this is not ok.” But if we begin to justify holding hate in our hearts, we become no different from those we feel in opposition to. The Dalai Lama understood this, even as he was exiled from his homeland of China. And Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”
Thich Nhat Hanh has been one of the most eloquent voices advocating that we always remember interconnection and that we love our enemies. Not that it’s an easy easy path. We have to overcome habitual tendencies to create the divisions that naturally arise out of fear.
Recommendation is a powerful poem in which Thich Nhat Hanh encourages compassion for all, without exception.
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
Even as they
strike you down
with a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you
like a worm,
even as they dismember and disembowel you,
man is not our enemy.
The only thing worthy of you is compassion –
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.
One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind,
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile
will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.
I will go on with bent head,
knowing that love has become eternal.
On the long, rough road,
the sun and the moon
will continue to shine.
This poem was written in 1965 in Vietnam for the School of Youth Social Service. This group rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. They worked with the Buddhist principles of non-violence. Thich Nhat Hahn was banned from his homeland in 1966. He has never become bitter or let hate fill his heart even as he became a great teacher for the world. If he had not had this heart of great compassion and interconnection, its doubtful he would have risen to the stature he has. His mind and heart were bigger than those who created division, destruction and war. May we all remember to keep love and compassion in our hearts, even in the most difficult times.
Saturday, January 19, 9 a.m. – Noon
Nashville Friends House
Lisa Ernst, meditation teacher and founder of One Dharma Nashville, and Terry Huff, LCSW, psychotherapist and author of Living Well with ADHD, will offer a workshop on meditation for adults with ADHD and/or anxiety. The workshop will include lecture, practice, and discussion and will address the following:
1. Why meditate for ADHD and anxiety?
2. Basics of practice
3. Different practices for
a. selective attention (focusing)
b. open awareness (expanding)
c. compassion (for self and other)
Research shows that mindfulness practice improves concentration, attention regulation, self-observation (of mental activity), working memory, and emotion regulation.
The workshop will be held at The Nashville Friends House, 530 26th Ave N. Cost is $60 and is due by the January 15 registration deadline; after $75. A reduced fee option is available to anyone who can’t afford the full fee.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for questions. Terry’s book is available at terrymhuff.com.
These note cards are created from my original paintings. They come a generous 12 per box and cost $22 each. Shipping is $5.95 for up to three boxes. Email me for purchase details: firstname.lastname@example.org
I spent a week at Cloud Mountain meditating and it was wonderful. Yet inevitably, challenges both big and small can arise in the course of deep practice. Some are comical, some poignant. I share a few of these experiences in this talk.
This is from Brad Stroup, a long time meditator who sits with us in Nashville and who has helped many in India. Archana is the wife of his adopted grandson in Bodhgaya:
Archana Kumari urgently needs surgery to remove her gallbladder, which is now enlarged and very painful. Estimated costs for the surgery and after-care will run over 300,000 rupees or, at current exchange rate of 75 Indian rupees to a $1, about $4000. Her husband has been able to raise about $200. Such an operation in rural India is challenging.
Archana is 34 years old and her husband is Bablu Kumar, 35, is my adopted grandson. I found him, and he found me, in the village of Bodhgaya in 1998 while I was on a pilgrimage. Siddhartha Gautama became enlightened as the Buddha (5th c. BCE) in Bodhgaya and is the most sacred site on earth for Buddhists.
Archana and Bablu are Buddhists living in Bodhgaya in the poorest state (Bihar) in India. They have two children, 8 and 6 years old, and when Archana became ill, Bablu became full time caretaker while continuing to work. They have operated the JBS School Welfare Trust (see Facebook), a private school for impoverished children, in Bodhgaya for many years.
Bablu urgently needs funds to cover Archana’s operation and recovery, which may take several weeks. While India claims to have medical insurance for citizens, most Indians end up paying for costs out of their own pockets.
You may give directly by going to www.xoom.com to sign up, a secure site operated by PayPal. This site converts dollars into rupees at current rates. Bablu’s complete address there is:
NEW TARI DIH BODHGAYA
POST BODHGAYA, DISTT, GAYA
DISTT, GAYA, PIN CODE 824231, Bihar
Bablu can be contacted on cell phone +91-8507693838 or by email email@example.com. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you hold loving kindness and compassion for sentient beings everywhere, please help Archana with $5, $10, $20 or more. Any donation will help.
May you be well, may you be happy, may you be at peace. – Brad Stroup
Come join us for a morning in a beautiful urban garden!
On Saturday, October 13 from 10 AM – 12 PM we’ll be volunteering in one of The Nashville Food Project gardens. Then we’ll enjoy a potuck picnic at noon. Location: Wedgewood Urban Garden, 613 Wedgewood Avenue.
Small parking lot for volunteers by BBQ joint
Activities may include planting, weeding, composting & harvesting. The Nashville Food project is a full-circle organization, growing, cooking and serving meals, getting food from local soil to local people. Produce from this garden goes into delicious meals served to those with little or no access to fresh, healthy foods. All skill levels are welcomed in the garden, though any child should be accompanied by an adult. Plan to wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Then stay for a potluck picnic at noon and bring a dish. There’s no refrigeration onsite, so bring a cooler if the food needs to stay cold. A grill will be available if you’d like to use it. If you would like to join this volunteer opportunity or just want more information email Julia Thompson at email@example.com
Starting Monday night, October 8, we will meet at 530 26th Avenue North at the beautiful Nashville Friends Meeting. Our regular weekly meditation sessions are changing to Monday nights from Tuesdays. Same hours, 7 – 8:30 p.m. and same program. We hope to see you there!
Each moment is unique and precious because it will never come again. Buddha recommended contemplating impermanence so we can better appreciate and wake up in this moment, our only moment. Out of this awareness of the fleeting nature of life arises deep gratitude. The Japanese call it Ichi-go Ichi-e, one chance in a lifetime, never to come again.
Our spiritual freedom is always available, even in the presence of difficulty, constriction and suffering. A moment of compassionate remembering and we can find release and freedom in this very moment.