Spiritual Brothers each with a deep volition to create a beloved community. Let's honor them by making it a reality.
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I hope you are well and happy and being peace. This is one of my favorite times of year. I love to spend time with Dr. King and get inspired all over again. If you share my love, I have included an excerpt of his writing on interbeing below. I have also included my yearly sharing of a talk I gave about Dr. King several years ago. Enjoy!
We are so lucky to have such wonderful teachers who have shown us the way to be peace . . . Now it's up to us to practice so we can transform our unskillful states of mind and respond skillfully to life. I hope you can join us this coming Sunday at 6 PM at our home so we can do just that. We will have a sitting period, followed by a talk and an opportunity to share our practice.
PRAYER and HELP REQUEST . . . I am sorry to say that I will not be available for a while after next Wednesday when I will be having knee surgery. I would like very much to be kept in your prayers and meditations. I would also appreciate it very much if those of you who might be willing to help to take care of the Sangha would come at 5 on Sunday to talk about how that might work. Please let me know if you will be coming.
NOTICE: TIME CHANGE! Tomorrow morning there will be a meeting for Order members and Aspirants and anyone who is interested in learning more about our practice at the Bell Street Chapel in Providence. The Radiant Bell Sangha will meet from 8-9:30 . . . We would like to begin our meeting by 10 AM, so please try to arrive 10-15 minutes before that. We will have a recitation ceremony for the 14 Mindfulness Trainings and follow it with a discussion of our practice. We will once again have an opportunity to share ideas for effective facilitation along with our experiences with the Winter Retreat Teachings.
I have included information below about an upcoming talk by Reverend Dr. Bernice King, CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, to be held on January 30 at Brown University.
Before then, I hope you will be able to join us for one of the events this weekend.
with much love, many hugs and deep gratitude for Thay and Dr. King, Joanne
from Dr. King . . .
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.
Did you ever stop to think that you can't leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go in to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that's handed to you by a Pacific Islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that's given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that's poured in to your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea that's poured in to your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you're desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that's poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that's given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker.
And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you've depended on more than half of the world. This is the way our universe is structured; this is its interrelated quality. We aren't going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I believe that peace is not merely an absence of war, but the nurture of human life, and that in time this nurture will do away with war as a natural process . . . —Jane Addams (1860-1935), U.S.A.
"Peace Through Active Nonviolence," Martin Luther King Remembrance, a talk given by Joanne Friday
You may wonder what a Buddhist is doing here honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have been a student of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh for 16 years. He was a close friend of Dr. King, and in 1967 he was nominated by him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In nominating him Dr. King said:
“Thich Nhat Hanh’s ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”
I am so honored for the opportunity to speak here today in this remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr. I am also so happy that it is called “Peace Through Active Nonviolence.”
The practice of Engaged Buddhism is very similar to Dr. King’s practice of non-violence. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us that compassion is a verb. Compassion without action is not very meaningful. We practice love in action. What Dr. King was practicing was also love in action as a spiritual path to liberation.
I was a teenager when the civil rights movement was happening. I was so amazed at the power of this one teacher. That he could inspire and motivate people who were being beaten and abused to respond with love and nonviolence and thus change the course of history. It was truly astonishing. What was it that he did? How did he do that?
He said the night before he was killed, “I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything, I’m not fearing any man.”
The promised land was his vision of a world in which all beings are equal and treat each other with love and respect. He had been to the mountain top. He had seen the promised land and what he saw was the truth—that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality—tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. “ In our practice we refer to this as interbeing.
In 1956 at the First Annual Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change, he stated that “love might well be the salvation of our civilization . . . the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community . . . It is love that will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” And he was right. It did.
He was able to look deeply and not get caught in the surface of things. To see beyond our impulse to have an immediate knee jerk response to violence, and to understand the long term implications of our actions. He had experienced God’s unconditional love and his calling was to share that love with the world, even at the cost of his own life. He said “To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.” And he had sense enough and religion enough. He said,” Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love.”
But he did more than say it. On the night of January 30 1956, he was at a meeting and learned that his house had been bombed. He rushed home and found that Coretta and their baby Yolanda weren’t hurt, but there was an angry mob of black men wanting a showdown with the police on the scene. King raised one hand to quiet the crowd and then said, ”I want you to go home and put down your weapons. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with non-violence. We must meet hate with love.”
He embodied the practice of nonviolence. He practiced what he preached—love, nonviolence and fearlessness. He was a man whose house had been bombed; the two people he loved most were in danger and right in the midst of it he could maintain his equanimity and practice nonviolence.
He did not get caught in the surface of things. He did not just react to hatred with hatred, to injustice with injustice, to violence with violence. He looked beyond the surface to see that “mankind must evolve . . . a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
He looked deeply enough to see that Jesus wasn’t just talking to hear himself talk when he said “Love your neighbor as yourself . . . Love your enemy.” He knew it was the only thing that would work. It’s not unrealistic, naïve idealism. It is absolute pragmatism. He looked beyond the horrible events of the present—the hatred and violence—to see that moving toward the promised land of respect and equality is the only way we will survive.
We have been conditioned to believe that revenge is the only answer. If someone hurts you, hurt him more. I would ask, ”How’s it working for us?” Look at the Middle East and the answer is obvious. We may win a battle, but if in doing so we have planted thousands of seeds of hatred and fear . . . the war is not over—only the present conflict has ceased. There will be no peace as long as we react to violence with violence.
That is true in our personal lives as well as in our national and international politics. If I am harboring hatred, anger and resentment, I am not at peace. Peace is not simply an absence of war or conflict. Peace is a deep personal practice of transformation. If I am not at peace, I cannot create peace on this planet.
Many look at responding to violence with love as being weak—as being a doormat. King said, “Don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them.” Love is the ultimate position of strength.
In talking about the power of love, he said, “We shall match your ability to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force . . . You throw us in jail . . . bomb our homes . . . beat us and we’ll still love you . . . We will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be double victory.” And that’s exactly what happened.
Dr. King did not put himself in the path of a bullet so that we would come together once a year and parrot his glorious words and think, "What a shame. What a tragedy that he is gone." NO. He put himself in the path of that bullet because he was the embodiment of what he preached—love, justice, fearlessness, peace. He had a calling. He did not let his small self, his own fears, his own doubts, his own desires to see his children grow up, supercede his larger truth. He had been to the mountain top. He had seen the promised land, and he knew that he would never die. His body may be gone, but he is alive and well in every cell of every being that was touched by him. His death was a mandate for all of us who were touched by him to change the way we live and the choices we make, to transform the hatred, anger and violence in our own hearts. To practice what he preached. To embody his teachings. To be peace. To be love.
Until everyone feels safe, no one is safe. Until everyone feels happy we all suffer. Until everyone feels loved we all suffer. In the peace movement there is a slogan. If you want peace, work for justice. As long as our prosperity comes at the price of suffering, starvation and deprivation for others, there will not be peace on earth. As long as we refuse to acknowledge that other people’s suffering is our business, and do what we can to alleviate it, there will not be peace on earth.
The highest tribute we could offer Dr. King is not to praise him, but to be his continuation—to embody the practice of peace and nonviolence. To be the beloved community. As he proved . . . It is love that will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.
May we do our best to take good care of ourselves and each other so that we can create the conditions to manifest peace on earth.
© 2004 Joanne Friday 3/3
Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 Time: 4:00-5:30 PM (public reception and book-signing to follow) Speaker: Reverend Dr. Bernice King, CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Location: Brown University Salomon Building, Room 101 69-91 Waterman Street Providence, RI 02912 http://brown.edu/Facilities/Facilities_Management/maps/#building/SALOMON