Sunday, December 16, 2012
Friday evening, I did a bowing practice for those who lost their lives in the school shooting in Conn. And for all of us, really. Our collective suffering. Our muddled, often contradictory views around violence and conflict. The practice was as follows: chanting the Jizo mantra three times, and then doing a full bow. I did this sequence for 20 minutes, one minute for each of the children murdered. I've long had an affinity for Jizo, and seem to invoke his mantra under all sorts of conditions. Being that one of Jizo's roles is protector of children, it seemed even more apt to do so here. And so I offer this to anyone who is struggling to respond right now, or who wants to do a specific practice to offer support, and/or work with grief.
During the day, and ever since, I've been talking with people about the interconnectedness of killing, destruction, and suffering. And how we need to expand our grief pool. Expand our understanding beyond any particular situation to see how interlocked violence is in our society. And many others across the planet.
I wrote the following on my Facebook page after several posts, and some exchanges about the events at Sandy Hook. We can demand gun control laws, expanded mental health services, and the like. I support those efforts, but they really aren't getting at the roots. As far as I'm concerned, there's no way to get at the roots without grieving the past, and present conditions. Accepting fully what is here and how that came about.
"You want to help stop things like school shootings - expand your grief pool. It's not just about 20 children in CT. It's a whole history of violence and genocide. In the soil. In the very air we breathe. More and more, the past is unwilling to stay submerged. The stories of Native genocide. Of decades of police brutality towards people of color. Of the slaughter of animals to near or total extinction. Of disappearing medicine plants. Of destruction in whatever form in the name of profit, or religion, or racial superiority, or species superiority. It's all bubbling to the surface. Demanding to be dealt with now. We can collectively keep pushing it all down, or we can - each of us and together - learn to expand our grief pool, to mourn all that has happened. Give it the respect that it deserves. And in doing so, help break the cycles that have been built. I see no other way but straight through. And this school shooting can be a place to begin, if you haven't already. Those deaths are tied to some many others. Consciously expand the grief pool you are feeling. Even a little bit. It all counts."
*Image of Pakistani children, living under the threat of American drone strikes, offering their support to those suffering in CT.