Thursday, September 5, 2013

What to do in a time of the breaking of nations

I know I am not the only person avoiding the evening news these days.  The sight of row upon row of bodies, some very small, is just too heartbreaking.  The thought of poison gas is appalling.  On this subject, I just read a talk by James Ford, who is both a Unitarian Minister and an important American Zen Master, that I found moving and thoughtful.  Here is a quote I pulled out to keep in my mind:
Our issue, the real deal for us here in this community, is how to act in a sacred manner in this mess of relationships that are our lives. 
I don't know what to do about war or the polarization of political parties in this country. I vote. I didn't expect my elected representatives to be involved in power plays and war games. I think a lot of us are disheartened by it, and more frightened by the violence unleashed in the world in these times.

But James' words lead me to recall my part in things, to practice the Three Pure Precepts of a Zen student.  They are to avoid doing harm, to act in ways that are beneficial, and to help free all beings from suffering.  I find that when I keep these in mind, I have plenty of work to do.  To be truthful, the first one alone is very demanding.  To avoid doing harm, as Joan Halifax has pointed out, means to avoid injuring -
the Earth,
the waters,
the air.

"Earth" - that's her capital letter.  Make of it what you will.

You can read the rest of James's talk here.
May all beings be well, happy, and peaceful.
graphic by Susan Piver


  1. Heartbreaking. And beautiful in your focus and call to what I can do.

    I know in my own life that love is the answer. Susan Piver's illustration to Occupy our Hearts (meditate) is what I'm doing. I also vow to the 3 pure precepts.

    I want the US and UN to abolish war. What if we claim our imaginative power instead? It's possible, remember the Great Law abolished war on December 7, 1862. People tried. (Thank you William Penn and George Fox.) Maybe we're not (yet) collectively evolved enough as humanity.

  2. Thank you, Susan. All this actually frightens me. But then, it's good - and almost comical - to see Russia and the US cooperating. What a world.