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Posts Tagged ‘Peace Pilgrim’

Once again I picked up the book Peace Pilgrim for words of wisdom and came across something that is so relevant today as we watch the killings and destruction of people of different faiths. Some people are even killing others who are the same faith only a different sect or denomination of that faith. Whether you believe in a religion, or a faith, or a spiritual teaching or a God or Supreme Being or not I hope the Peace Pilgrim’s words resonate with you and help you deal with your life and your challenges more easily today.

I am a deeply religious person, but I belong to no denomination. I follow the spirit of God’s law, not the letter of the law. One can become so attached to the outward symbols and structure of religion that one forgets its original intent—to bring one closer to God. We can only gain access to the Kingdom of God by realizing it dwells within us as well as in all humanity. Know that we are all cells in the ocean of infinity, each contributing to the others’ welfare (page 85)[1]

Roshi Robert Aitken in his wonderful book The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics writes this about oneness and war and peace.

Acting upon the First Precept [Not Killing] is also the spirit of not harming applied in the natural world. The same poisons that set us apart in families, communities, and across national boundaries—greed, hatred, and ignorance—blight the grasslands, deplete the soil, clear cut the forests, and add lethal chemicals to water and air. In the name of progress, some say. In the name of greed, it might more accurately be said (page 20).[2]

So if we let go of the outward symbols, laws, and structures and move toward the natural world or “God’s World” or the world of the Bodhisattva as Roshi Aitken says, “Compassion and peace are a practice, on cushions in the dojo, within the family, on the job, and at political forums. Do your best with what you have, and you will mature in the process.” You and I can be more like the Peace Pilgrim and the Buddha and be a part of “all cells in the ocean of infinity” contributing to the peace and welfare of everyone and everything.

If only we could feel and see ourselves afloat as an integral part of this infinite sea of creation we could not harm the cell that is in the other because we are that cell as well. Together we are that united one: separate we could not exist. Just imagine how our lives and the lives of those around us could be blessed if we lived each day in that “ocean of infinity.”

How about joining me for a swim!

In honor of our wonderful teachers I post these words:

Doshin and Jundo

Good Friends and good teachers of Zen: Jundo and Doshin

I feel within me a peace

Above all earthly dignities,

A still and quiet conscience.

–William Shakespeare

 

[1] Peace Pilgrim (2004), Peace Pilgrim, Editors Friends of Peace Pilgrim http://www.peacepilgrim.org

[2] Aitken, R. (2000) The Mind of Clover, Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. North Point Press: NY, NY

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Today would be a good day to share with each of you these wonderful ideas and words about peace from the Peace Pilgrim. They are appropriate for what is going on in our lives, in our communities, and in the world. I hope you will pass them on to others on your Facebook pages, twitter accounts, and e-mails. If we do not begin to understand the power of peace and love soon there will be no one left to love. I have shared some here with you.

Peace Pilgrim’s Beatitudes

Blessed are they who give without expecting even thanks in return, for they shall be abundantly rewarded.
Blessed are they who translate every good thing they know into action, for ever higher truths shall be revealed unto them.
Blessed are they who love and trust their fellow beings, for they shall reach the good in people and receive a loving response.
Blessed are they who instead of trying to batter down the gates of the kingdom of heaven approach them humbly and lovingly and purified, for they shall pass right through (page 167).

Be the person who demonstrates agape love through your thoughts, prayers, words, and actions today and you may just be the catalyst for spreading love that may heal the heart of another.

In gassho,
Shokai

ingassho

Footnote:

[1]Peace Pilgrim (2004), Peace Pilgrim Editors Friends of Peace Pilgrim http://www.peacepilgrim.org

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On December 7, 1975 a short piece was published in the Family Weekly Magazine about Peace Pilgrim. In it she talked about the idea of peace that Americans held:

Peace is much more than the temporary absence of war; it is the absence of the causes of war. I believe it will take another 10 years for an outer peace to develop and sustain itself, but even after that time I will continue to talk about the inner peace man needs to maintain outer peace (page 180).[1]

Sadly 42 years have gone by since she made this statement and wars on the common people by their governments and the fundamentalist religious groups around the world are raging harder, longer, and in more places than ever…from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to the mountains of Iraq, to the sovereign state of Ukraine, and still fermenting are wars between the Israels and the Palestinians that live in the Gaza Strip. Just to name a few!

So what would you suggest to the Peace Pilgrim if she were still amongst us as to the “causes of war”? The absence of war for me will come when we all develop a constant and consistent attitude of peace, love, and compassion for self, and then allow that to flow freely and fully to all beings at all times, and in all places. Next, move that peace, love, and compassion to the trees, lakes, mountains, and rivers, to the grass beneath your feet and the sun and stars above—to see everything through the eyes of love. Finally, to teach these principles in every town and village on the planet to the young ones who will be the future caretakers of it. This is what’s missing and is the cause of war everywhere from the bedroom to the boardroom to the city and to the countryside.

The eyes of love for self disappeared in Robin Williams as his depression and life’s challenges grew harder and harder to accept and manage until he took his own life. His peace and compassion for himself began to dwindle and finally to disappear. That is just what the Peace Pilgrim was speaking about when she said, “I will continue to talk about the inner peace man needs to maintain outer peace.”

We are a union of minds melding together through the energy that moves around this planet. We feel the energy of others in our presence all the time. Sometimes we can feel the energy of joy, laughter, and love and sometimes we feel the energy of fear, hatred, and sadness. But feel the energy we do, sometimes it is so palpable there is a saying that “you could cut it with a knife.”

While sitting in the Zendo this morning one of our teachers, Mushin Sensei, put on a beautiful piece of music for us to focus on after the talk given by our teacher Doshin Mitch Cantor. The music was a piano piece that was so fabulous it brought the energy of a recently departed friend into the room. I saw his light, I could feel his love, I could see how his spirit/energy was everywhere present as far as the mind could imagine from cosmos to cosmos from heart to heart and from mind to mind. I felt both tears of joy and sorrow begin to roll down my cheeks as our energy merged with the music and I was once again reminded that “all is one” that there is no separation in time and space when agape love is concerned.

Wouldn’t it be great if the love energy of the Peace Pilgrim and my dear friend Kevin Dulling could be flowing in and through all that is to help end this madness on planet Earth? I know they both would approve!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

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I woke this morning hoping that yesterday’s news of the commercial airline being shot down in the Ukraine and watching the bombs and lights flashing through the evening sky between the Gaza Strip and Israel was just a dream. But it wasn’t. It did however make this just another reason and another opportunity to continue my series of blog posts on war and peace.

Peace Pilgrim said:

My pilgrimage is an opportunity to talk with my fellow human beings about the way of peace. It is also a penance for whatever I may have contributed by commission or omission to the tragic situation in the world today. It is a prayer that this war-weary world of ours will somehow find the way to peace before a holocaust descends (page 27).[1]

If I did not know better I would think this was written today. We have more wars then ever being fought around the globe. We have not only countries fighting countries, but political parties fighting political parties, and religions fighting religions.

Robert Muller1Robert Muller, who was the former Assistant-secretary General of the United Nations for forty years wrote a little book titled Dialogues of Hope wrote:

It is very important that religions work together, listen to each other, while keeping their own creeds and rituals, in order to determine what is fundamental to all of them and what is the deeper structure of the global spirituality inborn in the human person and race. When people get together and work together as we do in the UN, they discover that they do not really disagree on the fundamentals (page 92).[2]

Our life on this planet is so short why must we spend it fighting and fussing over things that do not really matter, things that do not make a positive effect in our life, things that are not filled with peace, love and compassion for ALL beings? If they do not make this world a better, kinder, gentler world they should be discarded by me immediately and replaced with some thoughts, words, actions, and feelings that do make this a better, kinder, gentler world for all those who come across my path. Just like the Peace Pilgrim did. Just like Mahatma Gandhi did. Just like Jesus and Shakyamuni Buddha did.

I hope that I am not, as the Peace Pilgrim said, contributing “by commission or omission to the tragic situation in the world today.” I do make every effort to be mindful of my thoughts and actions, to catch myself and change my behavior and thinking if it is not filled with peace, love, and compassion.

In the Diamond Sutra it reads:

Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world; a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream; a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.

So everything is impermanence: you, me, war, peace, love, hate, so what is all the fighting for?! Too bad these violent actors are not just a phantom and a dream and I could wake up tomorrow and all of this world would be a place filled with peace, love and compassion. And our newspapers and TVs would be filled with only good stories of peace, love and kindness. Then I would never want to awaken from my dream…

In gassho, Shokai

ingassho

 

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

[2] Muller, R. (1990). Dialogues of Hope, World Happiness and Cooperation, Ardsley-on-Hudson, NY

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War is breaking out in the Middle East again and in Central America the conditions are so treacherous for the regular citizens they are sending their children on pilgrimages to America by walking a thousand miles to our borders and turning themselves in to the Border Patrol. Being in an American detention center is safer for them than being in their own beds in their own homes in their own countries. How sad a state of affairs is that?

So we are hearing “war cries” once again from some in our country to fight in the Middle East and to “fight” back the influx of women and children trying to escape a life of fear and hell in their home countries. Today in Guatemala 1 out of every 14 people have a chance to be murdered. If you are a parent what lengths would you go to in order to save your children?

In the book, Peace Pilgrim her Life and Work in Her Own Words, in Chapter 9 “Extensions of Pacifism,” she quotes Herman Goering, at the Nuremberg Trials:

Why of course people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country (page 114-15).[1] [Emphasis mine.]

Sound Familiar?

Pastor Martin Niemoller

Pastor Martin Niemoller

Yet in all countries and in all times there were those who spoke out, who stood up to the powers that be for peace even if it meant their own death or imprisonment. Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) is perhaps best remembered for his oral admission of personal guilt and condemnation of the bystander during WWII. Many years after his release by the Allied Forces from a prison camp in which he was interned he was elected president of the World Council of Churches.

The exact words that he is credited with are in dispute; their sentiment is not:

First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Finally, they came for me and there was no one left to speak out.[2]

 

What will you do for the children, for peace, for the planet? Turn a blind eye and go shopping at Saks or Bloomies, or K-Mart? Write your elected officials, carry a sign, vote them out? Pass the buck, see with a blind eye, and turn off the news? Save the children, save the planet? Get elected to office yourself?

The Gateless Gate

The great path has no gates,

Thousands of roads enter it.

When one passes through this gateless gate

He walks freely between heaven and earth (page 79)[3].

 

If it is to be—it is up to me! Hope lives eternal…Which gate will you take?

 

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

[2] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/414633/Martin-Niemoller

[3] The Little Book of Zen Haiku, Koans, Sayings, (2001) edited by Manuela Dunn Mascetti. The Book Laboratory, Inc. Fall River Press: NY, NY

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I am going to continue on with the Peace Pilgrim again and share some of her thoughts from Chapter 8: The Way of Peace.

This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. . . . Only good can overcome evil. . . . One in harmony with God’s law of love has more strength than an army, for one need not subdue an adversary; an adversary can be transformed (page 97).[1]

The first Grave Precept in Buddhism is “Not Killing.” I think she just may have been a Buddhist in a past life and maybe even this life but did not know it! Her life and her words are almost identical to our teachings and if you look at what Roshi Robert Aitken wrote about it in his book The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics she was teaching these exact ideas as she walked around the United States through every hamlet and city. He wrote:

Acting upon the First Precept is also the spirit of not harming applied in the natural world. The same poisons that set us apart in families, communities, and across national boundaries—greed, hatred, and ignorance—blight the grasslands, deplete the soil, clear-cut the forests, and add lethal chemicals to water and air. In the name of progress, some say. In the name of greed, it might more accurately be said. We are killing our world… (page 20).[2]

And so in Buddhism and in life if we focus on the positive aspects of peace, love, and compassion for all beings, for the earth, and for all things on the earth we will end up with a world that is without war, and with clean air and water. But if I think that it’s someone else’s job to do it—I’m dead wrong—it all starts with me loving me! It starts with me living a life filled with inner peace, love, and compassion. It starts with me refusing to hate people because of the color of their skin, or who they love, or where they live, or what god they believe in, or even if they believe in no god at all, or what political party they are affiliated with.

Peace Pilgrim said: My inner peace remains in spite of any outward thing. Only insofar as I remain in harmony can I draw others into harmony, and so much more harmony is needed before the world can find peace. All right work and all right prayer has effect, all good effort bears good fruit, whether we see the results or not. In spite of the darkness in the present world situation I am not discouraged. I know that just as human life proceeds toward harmony through a series of hills and valleys, so a society has its ups and downs in the search for peace (page 99).[3]

What is so profound about these words is that you would think she is living right here, right now in 2014. But she is not—she died in 1981. But let us not get discouraged! She never did and so we can all live as she did with hope and goodwill and with the knowing that there will be a turning point when more people believe in PEACE then in WAR!! Some call it the tipping point, some refer to it as the 100th Monkey Theory, but whatever you call it peace is possible!   Peace in your life, in your job, in your neighborhood if only we step out on faith, if only we begin with our selves, and invite our family, friends, associates, neighbors, and everyone we meet to join us in peace, love and compassion. Then let’s watch what happens to our lives our families our jobs and ultimately the world in which we live.

As the Unity peace song goes…let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!

Let’s start today by living the words in this poem by Emmett Fox that is simply titled “Love.”

Try it for a week and let me know what happens! I am excited to hear from you.

Namaste, Shokai

LOVE

There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;

No disease that enough love will not heal;

No door that enough love will not open;

No gulf that enough love will not bridge;

No wall that enough love will not throw down;

No sin that enough love will not redeem.

 

It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble,

How hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle,

How great the mistake, a sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.

If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.

~Emmett Fox

 

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

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

[3] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

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Thanks to those who have read and shared my blog on  Peace Pilgrim.  I feel compelled to give you an opportunity to read another of her powerful poems this one is simply titled “War.”

WAR

On the scarred battlefield, where they forced me to go

I met a man that they said was my foe–

And I ran him through with my blade!

When I pulled it out and his blood gushed forth,

I was suddenly filled with racking remorse–

“I have killed a man!” I said.

He was slim and youthful and frightened like me,

And not a fiend as they said he would be–

“They sent me to kill you,” he sighed.

“By God! I wish you had done so!” I swore.

“Why, I don’t even know what I’m fighting for!”

“Nor I,” he breathed, and he died.

 

When we kill with drones, and bombs, and land mines, and airplanes we never have to look them in the eye and see their humanity. Nor do they! What’s all this fighting for? Oil? Religion? Land? Power? Politics? You be the judge.

In love and light, Shokai

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