Tonight I decided to go back through all of my posts and give everything a look to chart exactly what I’ve been experiencing. I’ve definitely been in some extremely challenging times, but from what I can tell I’ve been able to navigate all of this, stay steady, with more and more increasing resolve and strength. All of this has changed me. It’s made me realize, that in even some of the most life threatening situations that the pandemic has caused, I’ve been able to generate more peace than I ever thought I was capable of doing. That’s what trying circumstances can tell us.
They’re the most difficult questions, but they also provide an incredible opportunity to reach deep inside of ourselves, and see exactly what’s there. And one of the things I found over and over again was a search for a true family, people I could count on, and the injustice and hatred that can sometimes happen from the idea of otherness.
I won’t go to deep into it here, but I’ve been through so much. I don’t publicly talk about it, but the record of those scars, and the solutions I found to it, are offered in these posts and thoughts I’ve written over the last couple of months. I hope in some way that they can be seen as a kind of vaccine against hostility and hatred, and provide a way of understanding how these manifestations of otherness can be so alienating and harmful.
I always thought the bay area would be a place to celebrate our individual modes of expression, but sometimes I am let down by how that can shape out to be untrue. We still live in a highly polarized society, and my proudest moments are when I stand up to those ideas. My writing is growing, and I’m now realizing that my original intention for going to the SF Zen Center has been achieved months in advance by the practice on this blog.
There was a heated discussion about politics on one of the sanghas I’m part of, and I tried to descalate it by offering the following, from here.
It seems Wenben is an experienced practitioner of Zen Buddhism who has this understanding that the three teachings are basically identical in the realm beyond logic and theories. In this understanding, the names, concepts, and rhetoric of the three teachings are not essential; the core of these three teachings is the “unspoken reality” beyond any conceptual thinking. “Unspoken” is a translation of 寂 (jaku), meaning “serene,” “quiet,” or “solitary.” This word was used to describe an aspect of the Daoist “Way.” In Laotsu’s Tao Te Ching it is said, “There was something formless and perfect / before the universe was born. / It is serene (寂). Empty. / Solitary. Unchanging. / Infinite. Eternally present. / It is the mother of the universe. / For lack of a better name, / I call it the Tao (道).” In Chinese Buddhism, this word was used in referring to nirvāṇa (寂滅 jakumetu, Skt. Nirodha). For many Chinese people who didn’t know the Sanskrit word and its meaning in the context of Buddhist teachings, the difference between Daoist “Way” and Buddhist “nirvāṇa” or “enlightenment” was not so distinct.