People do many ordinary things each day to make their world better. For example, they exchange smiles with a stranger, or hold the door open for someone. They let a driver merge ahead in traffic. What does it feel like to share a simple act of kindness? I’m confident you’ll agree that it feels pretty good. This good feeling is one of the rewards of kindness.
The very best teaching my first Zen teacher gave me was: No matter what is happening and, no matter if it’s happening “on the inside” or “on the outside”, first and foremost, be aware of what’s happening and do your best to relax. Fear might be happening, be aware of fear and relax. If joy is happening, know joy and relax. If a flat tire is happening, be aware of that and relax. Another way to say this is: be aware of what’s happening, notice, and let go of any drama. Simply work with what’s happening as calmly as possible.
The older I get, the more I find my mind spontaneously calling up thoughts of loving-kindness. What do I mean?
To state the aim of Buddhist practice is simple. The aim of practice is to bring suffering to an end. Bringing suffering to an end demands clear seeing and truthfulness and continuous practice. If it wasn’t that way everyone would probably practice Buddhism.
The early teachings portray the Buddha as the ideal of peacefulness and pacifism. We’re told, “The Buddha gave up killing living creatures. He renounced the rod and the sword. He was scrupulous and kind, living full of compassion for all beings.” And, in his 45-year teaching career, there isn’t a hint that he ever wavered from teaching or living out his commitment to nonviolence.
Join in this Interfaith Day of Prayer and Fasting called by the Associated Clergy of Cape Ann
Please join us on July 8th at 5:00 p..m. at the Fisherman’s Wives Statue on the Boulevard in Gloucester, to begin a 24 hour communal day of fasting and prayer, in whatever ways your particular tradition teaches, to intercede and ask for God’s help right now for our nation, especially for the crisis concerning immigration and family separation.
We will gather at the Fishermen’s Wives statue on the Boulevard in Gloucester for a Service of Reckoning and Hope. Rabbi Lewis will preach, and we will offer prayers and songs. St. John’s Episcopal on 48 Middle Street will be our rain location.
For 24 hours, we will ask participants to fast and pray, meditate and dedicate themselves to action to support those most in need, on behalf of the children and families who are suffering in ICE detention facilities, for those who are fleeing their countries, for those at the borders of our country and other nations, and for wisdom for our national and international leaders, for compassion, and for hearts to be softened and turned toward mercy.
See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do? ~The Buddha
On July 9th, at 5:00 p.m., we will re-gather at the Fishermen’s Wives statue to close the fast with a brief service of prayer and blessing.
We decided to call for this day as one form of religious response to the painful time in our country. Our traditions share a common ground in fasting and prayer as spiritual practices of communal intercession, especially in times of crisis or great suffering. We hope you will join us, wherever you are.
The earliest teachings of the Buddha encourage us to turn our minds toward thoughts of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. These teachings also invite us to generate thoughts focused on the Buddha’s admirable qualities. And, they urge us to rest our attention, from time to time, in thoughts focused on our own acts of generosity, kindness, and good will. The teachings insist that if we do so, we will discover lasting benefits in health and social harmony. We’ll create lasting positive traits that support own happiness and the happiness of others.
Like many of you, I spent time last week calling or emailing my Senators. I also called or emailed the White House, and other parts of the government. I called and emailed to insist that the sadistic and cowardly child abuse at our boarder with Mexico stop.
One of the Buddha’s central claims is that there are two chief factors that set the stage for human suffering and dissatisfaction. First, life is constant change. Our immediate environment is constantly changing. We are constantly changing. And because of this, over and over again many of the things we need or adore disappear from our lives.
As the ancient story goes, when the Buddha first awakened he was reluctant to tell anyone. Because he knew what he’d learned on the path to Awakening was subtle and hard to see, he was hesitant to teach others that they too could wakeup. He thought at first that teaching just might be too difficult and disappointing. The Buddha feared that teaching the Dharma might bring him only heartburn and headache.