When I clacked in the title of this post: Three Roads Converge, I thought I’d tie in three threads that have been thrumming through my life as of late. But then as I started thinking more about it, I realized that it’s more like 5 of 6 threads that have woven themselves together in the past week, prompting my call to pen this post.
On Monday, I had a meeting with an OI (Order of Interbeing) pre-aspirant friend of mine, where we decided to start a practice of working closely with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings together, which serve as the foundation of our Buddhist tradition. I shared with her that prior to my having been ordained into the Order – back in 2007 – I took it upon myself to work with each one of the trainings for the span of one-week. I read one training every day for 7 days and then would go onto the next one, equating to a 14-week practice. After reading each training, I would then journal about my thoughts/practice/experience with the training. This practice was very nourishing for me and allowed me the opportunity to look and work deeply with each training, one at a time.
Since she liked this idea and was interested in doing it, I extended the offer of having her and I do it together. Our plan is to focus on one training every 2-weeks, so that when next we meet, which will be once a month, we’ll share with each other our journal entries and what came up for us, centered around two of the trainings.
Since this was week #1, here’s the first of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings that I’ve been working with this past week, and will continue practicing with through the next week:
The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as guiding means that help us develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic and discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and in the world.
So, there’s one new and current thread.
On Wednesday, two threads were woven into the mix. I had a reading date with a friend of mine, where he and I got together for the purpose of reading: he with his university class assignments, and me with the assigned chapters from the book we’re working through as part of the class I’m taking on racial literacy and white awareness. This was our second reading date. It’s really nice to have someone help hold energetic space with, especially when it comes to reading a book that is not an easy/pleasure/recreational read.
A few things that especially stood out to me in the sections I read are as follows (from Robin DiAngelo’s book What Does It Mean To Be White?)
“We don’t have to agree with or understand someone’s offense in order to support and validate them.”
Focusing on IMPACT vs. INTENT can make for a very different and more constructive interaction.
You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. – Navajo Proverb
Wednesday’s second thread had to do with a film showing and accompanying panel that I attended, as part of Native American Heritage Month at our local Roxy theater. They showed the film 500 Years, which highlighted the genocide of indigenous people that took place in Guatemala in the 1980’s and the people’s uprising that followed.
Okay. So that’s three threads.
Then, last night, I attended a public talk with Venerable Drimay, a Tibetan nun in the Gelug tradition. What a lovely way to spend an evening!
Here are some things she said that resonated for me:
– When confronted with others of varying views, I find myself wanting them not only to understand my views but wanting them to convert to them.
– Anger stems from being blocked to something I’m attached to.
– If we’ve taken Bodhisattva vows, that means that we cannot get away with anger. We have to be very careful. We cannot leave out any sentient being from our practice of extending compassion and understanding.
– Look for common ground with someone you don’t understand.
– If we have a habit of seeing people as idiots and calling people idiots, we’ll probably find that we’re surrounded by idiots.
– Just put a little bit of doubt that something (or someone) isn’t the way that it appears.
– Do you think we should only apply Buddhist values/teachings on easy things & people?
And finally, the fifth thread was woven in just this morning. As part of a weekly practice that I’ve fashioned for myself – which I call Mindful Morning Saturday – I watched a TED talk that was sent out over the OI listserve last week, entitled: Why I have coffee with people who send me hate mail (please see link to the video below if you are interested in watching it).
Gosh. What an incredibly powerful and well done talk this is. As soon as I was finished watching it, I posted the link on our sangha’s Facebook page and emailed it to a host of friends, with this message:
Hello dear friends,
I wanted to send along this incredibly well done TED talk that I would highly recommend everyone watching. It is about 15-minutes long and fits in very well with our current political climate and the practice of our Mindfulness Trainings in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, in relation to our tendency to see those with different views as the “other”and separate from ourselves.
At the end, a question the speaker Ozlem Cekic, asks us to consider is: Who do you demonize? She then follows that up with a rhetorical question: Do you think supports of President Donald Trump, are deplorables?
Here are some of the themes I’ve noticed, that have come together so well in relation to these five threads woven into my life over the past week:
- The practice of staying open and receptive to the varying views and beliefs of others is extremely challenging and difficult – and also incredibly important, if we have the desire to foster understanding, connection, and harmony.
- As the Buddha taught: with our thoughts we make the world. And: 100% of our perceptions are incorrect.
- What we see as a mere snapshot of someone is what we regard as being real and true and the whole of who they are; and then we work to validate our view as being right, which causes further division and discord.
- The more we focus on our differences, the easier it is to get caught in dualistic and discriminative thinking: us vs. them, right vs. wrong, informed vs. ignorant, good vs. evil…
- Anger, violence, hatred – and the more subtle companion envibed in feelings of righteousness and superiority – are the results of being closed off from the insight of interbeing.
What a rich week I’ve had. Sometimes things just come into alignment and support a particular momentum and path forward. This past week was one such time.
P.S! I just remembered another thread! On Thursday night, I watched John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons on Netflix. As a note: it does contain some crude/crass/potentially offensive material but it is quite limited and does not overpower or undermine the importance of his offering. In my opinion, this is an incredibly thoughtful, heartful, and well done special.