Sunday, November 8, 2009
Thanks to Arun at Angry Asian Buddhist, I found this blog post on the debates over Buddhist Chaplains in the military. It's a complicated issue, and in light of the recent mass murders at Fort Hood, all the more important in my opinion. I continue to be compelled to examine the roots of violence both within myself, and out in the world. No separation, right?
This morning, on the way to the zen center on my bicycle, I noticed that old, familiar tightening in my stomach that occurs when cars come too close, or ignore my safety, or do something I just "don't like." my practice when I notice this, or even beforehand if possible, is to chant the Jizo Dharani. Jizo Bodhisattva is, among other things, a protector figure for travelers(not a God per se, but a manifestation of buddha energy in the world). As such, the chant is perfect for people on the go, and I have found it especially helpful in working with anger, fears, and violent energy that arrive during biking trips through the city.
It's a simple chant.(Om ka ka kabi san ma e sowa ka)
Easy to remember, and rhythmic enough to break through the muck that is arising. Sometimes, I chant it for an entire bike ride, and sometimes just for a few blocks. The original impetus, to stop getting so angry at careless drivers, has morphed into a deeper awareness of the very act of traveling brings up all kinds of challenging emotions and energies. And when I don't pay attention to those energies and emotions, they get lodged in my body, and control my thinking. Arriving at work after an "unconscious" bike ride, for example, can bring on a depositing of negativity on co-workers or my students that didn't need to occur. This is how violence begins on a small scale. People dump on each other, or jump on each other in small ways, and over time it builds up. If those builds up go unexamined, and uncared for, violent outbursts can be the result. At an extreme level, people rape, torture, blow up things, and kill each other. Do you really think that you are all that different from Major Malik Nidal Hasan? I think we can condemn his actions and, at the same time, see how razor thin the difference is between people who snap like him, and the rest of us.
In fact, it seems imperative, in a world filled with violence and hatred, to take these kind of steps. To stop separating people into rigid victim and perpetrator categories, and start examining how the roots of violence are in us all.
How are you working with violence in your own life? In your community? Around the world even? Sitting with, and reflecting on these questions, and others like them, seems like an important place to start this work. May we all give non-violence in all it's manifestations our best shot.
Posted by Nathan at 4:52 PM