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.
One out of one hundred Americans is currently behind bars. At our April 2018 meeting, the Sweeping Heart Zen Board voted unanimously to send ongoing financial support to the Prison Mindfulness Institute. Support for PMI and its programs to relieve suffering is now part of Sweeping Heart Zen’s ongoing community service work. At the present time then we’ve added our support for PMI to the monthly support we provide to The Grace Center and Action, Inc. in Gloucester.
Okay, I love the point, so I borrowed the “Buddhism Schmuddhism,” thing from Lama Surya Das. His point? The point? Don’t bother becoming a Buddhist, or becoming anything at all, for that matter. Just wake up to the way things are now, to the way you are now. Wake up to your life. Grow your inner goodness. Be the wide open knowing at your center. Fall in love with and share your gifts. Live who you truly are. Not tomorrow, not last week, live right now.
These days I’m driving much less than I used to. Many people would like to drive less but for various reasons cannot. So I know I’m lucky. It can be intense on the road, right? One reason I’m driving less is because I’d like to increase the peace in my life. And, since peace is the ultimate goal of practice, when I need to drive I aim to get where I’m going in peace.
Sweeping Heart Zen has taken root in Gloucester in 2017. We’ve grown as a website and settled in as a center for meditation and Buddhist practice. Consequently, I think it’s a good time to write a post to (re)introduce SHZ to our growing community of members, readers, and friends. The Buddha described his teachings as, “…visible here and now, immediate…, to be experienced by the wise.” That is, he invited us to inspect, test, and experience his teachings firsthand. The Buddha did not offer his teachings as dogma. They’re not a catechism-like checklist of ideas to believe. On the contrary, the teachings are experiments in living to be tried and tested. One asks, “Do I grow in joy, peace, and contentment as I practice these teachings? Do the people close to me suffer less as I grow in this way of life?” Testing the merits of the teachings and the value of the techniques can be likened to mindfulness in action, to compassion in action. Consequently, the Sweeping Heart Zen Way is practical, experiential, broad minded, and nonsectarian.
If you actively pursue the truth, confirmation bias is lurking. According to journalist and self-styled psychology nerd David McRaney, each one of us wants “to be right about how [we] see the world, so [we] seek out information which confirms [our] beliefs and [we] avoid contradictory evidence and opinions.” This is confirmation bias in a nutshell.
I’d like to encourage everyone on the North Shore to join in the 5th Annual Pete Seeger Legacy Sing this evening Sunday, March 18, from 6 to 8 o’clock at Magma, 11 Pleasant Street in Gloucester. It’s free and all freewill donations from the sing will go to March For Our Lives. This promises to be a heartwarming, good time and I’m sure you’ll agree that March For Our Lives is something that deserves our support. Here’s a link with the details: magma.center/event/pete-seeger-legacy-sing/
Seeds of peace grow peace, which plants seeds of peace.—Ben Connelly
Getting Real About Spirituality
“Many people try to find a spiritual path where they do not have to face themselves but… we have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our real shit, our most undesirable parts… That is the foundation of… conquering fear. We have to face our fear; we have to look at it, study it, work with it, and practice meditation with it.”
― Chögyam Trungpa,
Once, long, long ago, a large group of monks settled down for the three-month rainy- season retreat in a beautiful forest in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Hospitalized kids often feel scared, lonely, and different; they also often miss out on simple joys of childhood, such as attending school regularly. Receiving a card brightens their day, makes them feel special and reminds them they aren’t forgotten.
Everyday, so much in life directly expresses our fundamental goodness and the goodness of all creation. This is true, just the way we live now, without changing a thing.