Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha): “Do not believe in anything because it is found written in your religious books.

The Rigveda is an ancient Indian text one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism written between the 5th and 2nd century BCE, the first four books of the Bible Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers were written between the 6th and 2nd century BCE, the Tao Te Ching in the 6th century BCE, the Buddhist Sutras between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE, the New Testament in the 1st century CE, the Qur’an is the newest written around 632 CE.  Wow!  If you can remember all of that you’re better than I am!

 What’s my point?  The people who wrote these books were wonderful people who wanted to memorialize their beliefs and experiences for those who would come after them.  They were trying to explain, nature, birth, death, life, good and evil and more.  Science was not at the level it is today, they only had their eyes, ears, nose, and sometimes mouth to discover and memorialize their lives and how they dealt with what happened to them and in them in their waking and sleeping hours.

This is neither good nor bad—it just is.  Thus if saying a bed time Buddha at Bedtimeprayer will help keep you alive through the night—great what can you lose! If not eating meat is how you desire to live your life wonderful, go for it.  If eating meat but not pork or crustaceans (lobster, crabs, shrimp, etc.) is your choice that’s great too.  In ancient times you might have been better off not eating pork because it caused an infection we know as trichinosis, but so did lots of other foods.  Just a few more reasons “not to believe” everything found in your ancient texts.

My mom believed it about the pork and thus when we had pork chops for dinner they were so well done they tasted and acted like shoe leather!  That was one of the nights I always found a reason to eat at my best friend’s house for dinner.  Another time I bought some “free range chicken” and served it to her for supper.  I was bragging about how great they were and that all the chickens should be freed.  Once again mom told me a “farm story.”  “I fed plenty of chickens on the farm growing up and let me tell you they ate anything and everything in sight, at least this way their waste ends up far enough away that they can’t get at it.” You’ve got to love my mom!

So in this day and age with our education, science, technology, the internet, and more you have the opportunity to be your own researcher and discover about life for yourself.  If following your religious and family traditions is important in your life…go for it.  Just remember that not everything written in them is true…then move full speed ahead and live the life that works for you and spreads peace, love, and compassion wherever you go!

In gassho,


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I quoted last time from Dr. Rendon’s wonderful book Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy and as I read further into the book I was excited to see how she blends spiritual elements into her pedagogy to help her students learn not only the content but the ability to be good citizens in their communities.

She goes on to say ”The spiritual elements in Sentipensante Pedagogy include the use of diverse forms of contemplative practice, which may do two things: (a) quiet the mind to allow for the cultivation of deep insights and personal awareness, and (b) activate the senses as learners engage in social activism and self-transformation (page 141).”

Let’s not forget that regardless of our age, education, or time spent in school we are all learners!  We are learning something each and every day.  Maybe you read a newspaper, magazine, or book and discovered something that you did not know before.  It could be as simple as a new way to cook all the squash you’ve got growing in your backyard garden to a more beautiful route that you can take to the grocery store.  But learning you are!

Most of us would love to be able to quiet our minds, as Dr. Rendon says, to be able to go deep within ourselves to discover who we “really” are, to find out what our potential is, to discover how we can make our schools, towns, states and our country a better place for everyone to grow and blossom in.  For some it may be through social activism and for others it may come through self-transformation or maybe it is through both.

Even my 92-year-old mother has said to me many times, “I need a job.  I’ve got to be doing something.” It is not that easy to explain to her that no one is going to hire a 92-year-old woman with dementia so I try to find some thing that she is doing daily that is kind of like a job and is helping others.  It can be as simple as being kind and helpful at the Alzheimer’s Daycare Center with the other people who attend there, or when she tells a story to the staff that makes them laugh and lightens up their day.  When that sinks in she is excited to get on the bus to what she calls “school or work” the next morning.

Dr. Rendon goes on to write, “Consequently, contemplative practice is two-dimensional.  Contemplation may involve stillness and quieting the mind.  Yet it may also involve stirring the soul, shaking up the learner’s belief system, fostering a social justice consciousness, developing wisdom, and in the end transforming the self (page 141).”

I sat this morning at Zen contemplating a Koan that I am working on and came upon an interesting thought that when things are “broken” they are not always fixable for whatever reason.  Sometimes the problems are too large and maybe I just need to look at them from a different vantage point.  Maybe I need to give them more time, or be more creative in my thinking about the situation.  Maybe I just need to leave it alone until such time as the answer appears on its own.  Maybe I need to not force an answer, solution, or idea.

Imagine what a great tool it would be for our students if we taught them how to use contemplation and meditation tools to help them engage with problem solving, decision making, and more.  To use these tools to help them quiet down the “monkey mind” that rages in their heads all day and sometimes all night long.

The school of life is daunting, beautiful, fantastic, challenging, and unpredictable.  Spending time in quiet meditation and contemplation can help us and our students get our lives together and find a simple and peaceful way of living.  We can get off the playground where all the “kids” are running and jumping, and yelling and fighting and kicking, and go to the playground where the people are laughing and smiling and sharing and enjoying each others company in peaceful conversations and discussions.

Which playground are you on today?




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