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Posts Tagged ‘independence’

I post this as a counterpoint to all the celebrations of July 4th’s so called “Independence Day.” 

Flose Boursiquot and Chip at Rally June 30th 2018The poem is written by Flose Boursiquot and taken from her incredible book Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe.”  The picture was taken on July 30th in Delray Beach, FL at the “Families Belong Together” rally sponsored by http://www.moveon.org where she was one of the incredible speakers.  She is with Chip Frank my friend and former production manager when I was a Unity Minister. How lucky we were to meet her! She gifted me her book for which I am ever grateful.

 

Voice

I have a voice!
you cannot silence me
my feet burn through the pavement and leave enough dust
for my grandchildren to make clay pots
the thoughts that travel through my mind leave textbook pages
ashamed

you cannot silence me
my boot straps awaken the Black Panthers and take notes from
Malxom X
I know what it means to starve
a physical pain that engulfs your intellect and spirit

you cannot silence me
I am a young Nikki Giovanni with words so freeing notebook pages
fling their legs open when i peek at them with a side eye
master’s grandchildren stand miles away when air escapes my
lungs and thoughts juxtapose that of W.E.B. DuBois

you cannot silence me
I am not a mindless crab in a bucket
i refuse
yes, i refuse to step over the hands and feet of my people
we are intertwined like the molecules in our bodies

you cannot silence me
my children will not wake up caved in by debt, miseducation and
fear
they will know that beauty doesn’t solely lie in blue eyes
and that wealth isn’t manufactured green on trees

you cannot silence me
my ancestors taught me how to read a map
they left blueprints imprinted in my DNA
if I ever lose my way, i look in the mirror
touch my wide nose
feel my naps
embrace my brown skin
and i find my way

you cannot silence me
death does not scare me
i welcome heavy words sung by kings and queens on the block
they are reminders of journeys taken so i can stand here today

you cannot silence me
my back may weaken
but my boots will carry
my brothers and sisters will lift me

you cannot silence me
because with every step i will roar
we will roar
arm-in-arm, a destiny will be set
and we will achieve

*********************

This poem was written by an incredible woman a “24-year-old Haitian-rooted palm tree dancing in the Florida sun” woman. “She is a product of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.”

I hope you’ll buy her book!

In gassho, Shokai

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Forms differ primally in shape and character,
And sounds in sharp or soothing tones.
The dark makes all words one,
The brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases

Shohaku Okumura writes in his beautiful book Living by Vow, “The statement that unity shines in difference and difference flows in the unity is a paradox (page 221).”

We all understand that we live in a physical world where cars can crash into each other, we hit our shin on the coffee table and know that it is definitely real and physical and independent of me, myself, and I. I am not the table and the table is not me. And yet, if we read the lines from the Sandokai we hear the words in our head that say “the darkness makes all words one.” What’s that all about?

Although I am a separate person from my mother–independent. I would not exist without being interdependent with her for nine months. And of course my father was an integral part of the interdependence as well. Of which I am sure, were he alive, he would attest to that fact.

I once saw a TED Talk about a young designer, Thomas Thwaites, who was assigned to choose a project to work on at school. The project he decided on was to build a toaster from scratch. I mean from scratch! He made his iron, plastic, cooper wire and more, which he turned into parts to build the toaster. He quickly discovered that nothing could be done without help from ages of people discovering, studying, testing, building, and creating. And thus we are all interdependent generations of the world in which we live. Without them none of us would have a toaster!

And if we go on Ancestry.com we can see yet another indication that we are interdependent through our genes.

Shohaku Okumura goes on to write, “Our practice is to manifest the merging of difference [independence] and unity [interdependence] completely in every activity, including zazen.” In our practice we have a goal of becoming “one” with these two concepts not only in our time sitting, but throughout the day. When I sit in the zendo with others I enjoy that immensely. I love the peace and compassion that I feel exuding from each member and it often makes my “sit” deeper and easier. And yet, we are all individuals sitting independently and at the same time merging silently as one.

If we could just spread this idea around the world we could end wars, hatred, and prejudice. If we could live like the raindrops that fall into the ocean and become one with it we could understand the idea of interdependence in the Sandokai. Within that ocean of oneness lives millions of creatures from microscopic ones to the giant gentle blue whale whose heart is the size of a car.

Stop for just a moment, if you can, and “Imagine” what the world would look like if we knew our interdependence and lived as though we did…

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one

~ In loving memory of John Lennon

A simply perfect illustration of “soothing tones” and “the brightness distinguishing good and bad phrases.”

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1]Okumura, S. (2012) Living by Vow, A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts. Wisdom Publications: Somerville, MA

[2] http://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_thwaites_how_i_built_a_toaster_from_scratch

[3] Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/imagine-lyrics-john-lennon.html#22oElMRbqhRgPdh3.99

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“Peace is the way,” is a very famous idea and the original quote is shared with us in the very popular book by Robert Aitken, The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics (1984). He writes:

. . . we have the saying attributed to A.J. Muste, “There is no way to peace; peace is the way,” I doubt if this could have been formulated without the influence of Gandhi, who showed that swaraj, or independence, is right here now, not some time in the future… “Right here now,” “Peace is the way,” “This very body is the Buddha,” “The Kingdome of God is within you”—these are all expressions of human intimacy with essential nature, which is not born and does not die (page 164).[1]

So how do we get so far off the track of peace and into war, anger, meanness, self-centeredness, and the like? All of these words lead us away from peace and make us a very unlikable person. For me I find that when I allow my ego to take over my thinking and feeling nature I’m in big trouble! When the only words that I hold in my head are I, me, my, and mine I am in bigger trouble! And yet it is a great challenge to hold your ground when you are being abused or taken advantage of without giving up your “peace.” But it can be done!

I took a workshop many years ago with a wonderful Unity minister named Edwene Gaines and she shared a great affirmation with us to use when we needed to get a “toxic person” or situation out of our lives and it went like this: “I bless her on her way to find her highest good elsewhere.” WOW!! That’s a powerful thought and I have used it for over 20 years very successfully and so have others that I have shared it with.

So you might say, “I bless ________on his way to find his highest good elsewhere.” Change the pronoun as necessary. Really do it, say it, and think it from a place of peace and love, not of anger and hatefulness. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, JR were able to do it in a big way. If they can free countries and people we sure can free ourselves and others with peace and love to find their highest good elsewhere.

Remember peace is inherent in you right here, right now, not in some other time in the future! Our essential nature is peace. Can’t you just picture that new born baby asleep in the crib how beautiful the baby looks, serene, content, and fulfilled? When was the last time you looked and felt like that, and I don’t mean without the wrinkles! I mean with real love and contentment in your mind and heart. The love and contentment that you were born with, you had it once; you can have it again right here right now this very minute. It is all up to you—choose it or lose it! A person can have love and compassion for even the most so called “unlovable” person in the world when they remember that everyone’s true nature is love and for whatever reason they just do not recognize it in themselves.

Let’s take the time now to do our three breath exercise. Take those three long breaths now! Feel the peace begin to move through you as you count one on the in breath and two on the out breath. Feel the relaxation that begins to encompass your mind, body, and spirit. Unwind your mind and ego~ and rewind the natural peace with which you were born!

And when you do you will see your relationships blossom and grow through peace and love. Peace is the way…this I see for you today!

In love and light, Shokai

 

[1] Aitken, R. (1984) The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. North Point Press: NY, NY

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