1-14-17 Sangha Update


I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality ….I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you well and enjoying this bright winter morning.

We are celebrating Dr. King's birthday this weekend. Dr. King and Thay were very good friends. It is believed that it was because of that friendship that Dr. King came out against the Vietnam War. Dr. King nominated Thay for the Nobel Peace Prize. I have included his letter below. All of the principles he taught arewonderful compliments to our practices and are extremely timely for the times in which we are living.

Dr. King has been one of my heroes - a true inspiration. Several years ago I was invited to offer a talk on MLK Day...I have included the text below. I offer this every year. I think it is important that we remember.

We can do that together on Sunday evening at 6 PM at our home. We will have our gathering and enjoy sitting meditation, I will offer a talk about the practices that Thay has offered us in order to create conditions for a beloved community to manifest. We will enjoy sharing the Dharma and some songs and wisdom of Dr. King. I hope you will be able to be with us.

REMINDER Our Day of Mindfulness for Facilitation and Sangha Building has been rescheduled for Saturday, January 28th. All of the info is available at joannefriday.com/calendar I hope you will be able to be with us.

ENGAGED PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES. Many have been asking me what individuals can do to protect human rights. We now have a Social Action Committee which will be sending out a survey to you soon....and they will be posting opportunities for helping locally, statewide, nationally. They will be communicating via our google groups list. If you would like to be a part of that, please contact Cindy at westnest5@verizon.net

There is a group I have been meeting with called Resist Hate RI. Today they had their 3rd meeting and attendance has been huge with workshops on all different topics offered by experienced presenters. If you are interested you can access info at https://resisthateri.com/take-action/ or on their Facebook page. All the different committees have offered opportunities for action.

There will be a rally at the State House on the 21st of January and the Radiant Bell Sangha is organizing some opportunities for the RI Community of Mindfulness to Participate. That information will also be sent to the googlegroup when it becomes available.

The most important thing to remember is that all of these are opportunities to deepen our practice. Can we be mindful of which seeds are being watered in us, which emotions are arising....and come to a better understanding of ourselves and our habits of mind, so we can heal what needs healing in us, so we can understand others better and see the situation clearly. We need to be able to act out of love for our country and our fellow beings and not out of hatred or anger for those in power. We need to look deeply to understand their conditioning and develop some compassion. Then our action will become clear and effective.

Most importantly, we need to water lots of seeds of joy in our consciousness so that we will expand our capacity to deal with any difficulty that confronts us.

Here is one possibility...Carrie Fisher once told Meryl Streep to "Take your broken heart and turn it into art" this is a beautiful example of the indomitable nature of the human spirit. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9AwiErHzlU

with much love and gratitude for you, Joanne 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 over 20 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 Non-Violence 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, non-violence 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 non-violence. To be the beloved community. As he proved....It is love that will bring about miracles in the hearts of men. (bell) 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.


ON THIS DATE IN 1964, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING accepted the Noble Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, he wrote, As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, "I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967. I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam. This would be a notably auspicious year for you to bestow your Prize on the Venerable Nhat Hanh. Here is an apostle of peace and non-violence, cruelly separated from his own people while they are oppressed by a vicious war which has grown to threaten the sanity and security of the entire world. Because no honor is more respected than the Nobel Peace Prize, conferring the Prize on Nhat Hanh would itself be a most generous act of peace. It would remind all nations that men of good will stand ready to lead warring elements out of an abyss of hatred and destruction. It would re-awaken men to the teaching of beauty and love found in peace. It would help to revive hopes for a new order of justice and harmony. I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend. Let me share with you some things I know about him. You will find in this single human being an awesome range of abilities and interests. He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. The author of ten published volumes, he is also a poet of superb clarity and human compassion. His academic discipline is the Philosophy of Religion, of which he is Professor at Van Hanh, the Buddhist University he helped found in Saigon. He directs the Institute for Social Studies at this University. This amazing man also is editor of Thien My, an influential Buddhist weekly publication. And he is Director of Youth for Social Service, a Vietnamese institution which trains young people for the peaceable rehabilitation of their country. Thich Nhat Hanh today is virtually homeless and stateless. If he were to return to Vietnam, which he passionately wishes to do, his life would be in great peril. He is the victim of a particularly brutal exile because he proposes to carry his advocacy of peace to his own people. What a tragic commentary this is on the existing situation in Vietnam and those who perpetuate it. The history of Vietnam is filled with chapters of exploitation by outside powers and corrupted men of wealth, until even now the Vietnamese are harshly ruled, ill-fed, poorly housed, and burdened by all the hardships and terrors of modern warfare. Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution acceptable to rational leaders. He has traveled the world, counseling statesmen, religious leaders, scholars and writers, and enlisting their support. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity. I respectfully recommend to you that you invest his cause with the acknowledged grandeur of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1967. Thich Nhat Hanh would bear this honor with grace and humility. Sincerely, Martin Luther King, Jr.