The above pic was the first thing I read early this morning, to kick off my new practice of Mindful Morning Saturdays. I ordered a few new books for our library at the Open Way Mindfulness Center and a few of them arrived yesterday. One of which is Thay’s new book: At Home in the World, Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life. The above pic was taken from inside the book jacket.
As a recap from my post last Saturday, I’ve just started a new practice of dedicating Saturday mornings, from 5:00-8:00am, to the intentional cultivation of mindfulness, on a deeper level than I tend towards on other days. No matter how mindful and present I think I am in my everyday life, there is always more work and practice I can do to deepen my connection to the here and now. Mindful Morning Saturdays are an opportunity to devote my full attention to coming back home to myself and tending to the garden of life that is available in the present moment. Today was Saturday #2 in my new endeavor, and I am feeling wonderfully energized and refreshed with Dharmic inspiration.
I respond and work well with having a schedule to follow, as it helps to keep me focused, so today my morning looked like this:
5:00am Wake up
Reading: Thay’s new book and then some things from our chanting book
6:00am Sitting Meditation, followed by Three Earth Touchings
6:30am Stick exercises
7:00am Silent, non-multitasking breakfast
7:30am Watched an interview online with Sister Peace & the Huff Po
The interview I watched was very good (on peaceful activism and social justice) and I would highly recommend it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LakovFKhtXw
Here are some of the responses I jotted down from Sister Peace:
To be fearless, is to be peaceful. We can embrace all that we are, as we are, as being okay. We have to really protect ourselves from buying into what we hear about ourselves and to know that it’s not true, that I’m okay as I am and who I am.
Q: What does activism look like from a Buddhist perspective?
A: There’s a broad arc of activism. When we talk about peace in ourselves, peace in the world, that is very true. We hear that it starts with us but at the same time with some groups there’s a level of angst, anticipation, anger, and passion to want to move towards and to do something. How do we reconcile the chasm between these two? Coming back to ourselves, breathing, walking – and how we do then not lose sight of the fact that some of the things that we as Americans have taken for granted some perceive are quite at risk now? What is the practice? We must train ourselves: to listen deeply to all sides, to be still, to not react unskillfully no matter what happens (like the demonstrators in MLK’s time). We must come together as a sangha, as a collective. We need training in order to stay in balance.
Q: Compassion can look weak, what would you say to that point of view?
A: Compassion can be quite strong. It can be a force of good. Even though people may come to us with violent things to say and possible violent action, if we can be strong in ourselves then we can offer a resistance that is non-violent.
Both MLK and Thay were rebels, revolutionaries, activists but not in the conventional sense. They were both fearless and not afraid to work for what they believed in, but in a different way, despite the forces around them. During the Vietnam war, between the north and the south, many people were angry at Thay because he wouldn’t choose a side. They’d ask him what part of the country he was from and he’d say: “I’m from the center.” He didn’t want war on either side. Thay teaches us not to be an angry activist, and I think that’s also what MLK taught. They had the courage because they had the insight, they had a deep spiritual dimension and practice. They had a deep spiritual well from which to draw upon.
Q: For younger people out there who this appeals to and makes sense, but who struggle to know how to go about it, how can this spiritual well be developed?
A: We have the Five Mindfulness Trainings and we also have the Wake Up movement, but then we can also turn towards the individuals in our community (parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, spiritual leaders…) who we respect, who have a depth and courage, who we feel have a spiritual dimension. I would say to go to that person, or persons – to gravitate towards them, to be active and participate in it. Have direct contact with whoever that person (s) is.
A new winter/spring hybrid day unfolds before me, as I take solace in this foundation of solidity and ease I’ve generated during my Mindful Morning Saturday. What a joyful and wonderful new practice this has been for me so far!