Lightening Suffering is the Buddha Way

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.

Moreover, I signed petitions and donated to worthy agents of change.  I hope these small actions will somehow lighten the pain of the families and children in detention. And, I hope to help organizations defend the downtrodden who are now suffering at the hands of our government.

I’m doing this kind of thing a lot these days.

I vow to cease doing harm, to do good, to help all beings whenever and wherever I am able.

As many of you know, Sweeping Heart Zen is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. Consequently, I was heartened to see that the SZBA took a public stand against the United States government’s policy of separating immigrant children from their families and then sending them to detention because of their undocumented status. The SZBA took this stand by initiating a petition to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen.  The petition  decrys these abuses and insists they stop.

Here is part of what the SZBA statement says:

“Separating children from their parents and holding them in detention inflicts terrible and needless trauma and stress on young children that hampers and damages their development, causing long-term damage. This policy being employed on United States soil is morally unconscionable. That such egregious actions be employed as a deterrent for families seeking entry and/or asylum in the U.S. – using the sacred bond between innocent youth and their parents – is unjustifiable on any level.”

“As people of faith and conscience, we feel that it is important that we speak out clearly in defense of basic human rights at this time, calling for an immediate end to this heartless practice. In doing so, we join the voices of many religious leaders and congregations that have unreservedly condemned this policy of separation. This policy is a serious violation of the rights of the child and must be stopped today.”

You can add you name to the SZBA petition at

Many people, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike have. Please do. Here’s the link:

Of course, for Buddhists, this is not a partisan issue. It is not a partisan issue because the Buddhist aims to pattern her or his public life, not after parties or political heroes, but after the life of the Buddha. And, the Buddha devoted his entire public life to the alleviation of human suffering regardless of which King or Queen or government figure or religious leader caused it.

Alleviating suffering is the pole star of Buddhist life and this, for the Buddhist at least, has little to do with politics per say. Yet, when  politics can be a means to lessening human travail and anguish, we should avail ourselves of politics to that end.  However, ending the suffering at the boarder has everything to do, first and foremost, with what it means to be  awake and fully human in this life, heart to heart, for each other.

To avoid all harm, to cultivate good, and to purify the mind. This is the teaching of the Buddha. -The Dhammapada

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I hope you have a wonderful week!