there is a path_wisdom

It is said that all the Buddha ever talked about was suffering and the end of suffering. In the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha laid out the diagnosis, the prognosis & the prescription to end suffering: there is a path. I don’t want to leave folks hanging, let’s get right into it – that path is the Noble Eightfold Path (ariya-magga in Pali, the language spoken in the Buddha’s time) & it can be explored in three different sections.

Discussing the Eightfold Path, folks often use term RIGHT (“right view,” “right speech,” “right livelihood”); I find myself using WISE instead. Right can imply wrong. Wise works just as well and allows for a little more subtlety.

The first grouping deals with the cultivation of wisdom or discernment (pañña) and is made up of wise view and wise intention. The second group is concerned with the cultivation of virtue (sila) and is made of wise speech, wise action and wise livelihood. The third is all about concentration and meditation (samadhi) – wise effort and wise mindfulness. Let’s check out wisdom.

1: Wise View: knowledge of the Four Noble Truths

(crying emoji!) If a clip of a half-naked Seth Rogan singing the “Age of Aquarius” is enough to lure anyone into learning more about Right View, then my work here is done. This is time well spent.

2: Wise Intention: motivation to resolve suffering – resolve, renunciation, loving-kindness

I’m not much of an Aziz Ansari fan anymore, but it’s a good clip. Apologies if that kicks anything up for anyone. I haven’t gotten around to writing up notes on supporting last weekend’s API Chaya / Project NIA training to address gender-based violence, support people experiencing harm, and support people causing harm to change. That’s a post for another time.

Right now is a chance to learn more about about the Eightfold Path! Here are a few places to start:

why do you want to apologize?

Apology Lab was deep. It was moving to be with so many folks ready & willing to explore vulnerability and undertake the process of accountability with themselves & their communities.

image of flowers. text reads: accountability is a practice, not an end

From lab notes, “Accountability is a practice not an end and it is a continuous process rather than an individual act.”

The work in the Apology Lab was based on Mia Mingus‘ framework of accountability.

She separates the accountability process into four parts: self-reflection, apologizing, repair and behavior change.

Read all about it on her blog & help build a culture of right relationship. Part one of her essay “How to give a good apology” is here and part two is here.

how to give a good apology

I’m honored to support the NYC Transformative Justice Hub by offering guided meditation and holding space at their event Saturday January 25th (noon to 5 pm) at Judson Memorial Church, Assembly Room (239 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012). Wheelchair accessible, childcare available. Although it is currently *sold out*, if you are a BIQTPOC (Black, Indigenous, Queer, Trans Person of Color) who would like to attend this event, please email NYCTJHub at nyctjhub@gmail.com to learn more about community tickets.

Description from the NYC TJHub website: “This political education workshop will consider the opportunities and challenges of offering a sincere and meaningful apology.

Drawing on decades of work done by Just Practice and the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective, this workshop will offer tools and practices for addressing harm we’ve inflicted and cultivating space for healing by making a good apology. For those of us working towards liberation, taking responsibility for harm that we cause is an opportunity to practice accountability and community nurturance. Instead of avoiding conflict and the wounds we’ve caused within our communities and movement spaces, we can learn to sit with our own complicated emotions, discern what responsibility is ours to take, and offer an apology without any expectations of others.

Light refreshments, vibe checkers + healing justice practice guides will be available.”

More information about NYC Transformative Justice Hub is available here: https://nyctjhub.com/public_events.html

right relations

credit: Lisa Mackie

I’ve been having lots of conversations lately about what being in right relationship looks like: what accountability is and isn’t, what being in community means. I believe we all must be responsible for for our actions as well as our inactions, answering not only to ourselves, and others, but to all our relations, the earth, other living beings we share the earth with, ancestors, and future generations. One of the guidelines I use in my workshops carries over into the rest of my life: honor the intention, own the impact.

Good intentions aren’t enough. Good intentions have never been enough, not in terms of interpersonal relationships, not in terms of political action. Recognizing how those intentions translate into action and what the consequences of those actions (or inactions) are, is essential to creating relationships of balance, care and trust. It’s painful, difficult work acknowledging harm we’ve caused and ways we’ve failed, but we all have been harmed and we all cause harm, why pretend otherwise? Naming this not as an opportunity for judgement or blame, but in an effort to turn toward the difficult. Being present with the many varieties of suffering without turning away.

Acknowledging the widespread suffering in the world in this time, I endeavor to alleviate what suffering I can by cultivating my own practices of mindfulness, compassion and equanimity and living my own commitment to be of service when and where I am able. I find that action is a practical remedy for overwhelm and despair. I hope that my choices and actions are impactful in beneficial ways for all involved.

Sharing here some resources from Buddhist Action Coalition (adapted from Upaya Zen Center) that offer opportunities to demonstrate care and compassion, make efforts to restore balance, bring us back into harmony. Knowing that all of our struggles are connected, here are some things we can do right now around immigration:

1. Educate ourselves and our communities
Learn about the root causes of migration and displacement from Central America and Southern Mexico (hint: 90% crop failure in parts of Central America due to climate change, destabilized governments). Learn about the US immigration system: DHS, ICE, CBP, and how the mismanagement of these organizations is causing chaos. Here’s a great article to begin: “Just Keep Going North

2. Donate to community bail funds
Reunite detained parents with their children by helping post their bail: Fronterizx Fianza Fund and National Bail Fund Network.

3. Volunteer and support immigrant organizations and organizations advocating for and/or providing legal services to asylum seekers
New Sanctuary Coalition
New York Immigration Coalition
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
Immigrant Families Together
Al Otro Lado

4. Call your Congressperson!
Call your Congressperson and tell them to defund, to not vote for additional funding for DHS and ICE (or ask them to abolish DHS). This ACLU page will route you directly to your congressperson and includes a script.

5. Donate to organizations providing emergency aid (food and water!) to refugees
South Texas Human Rights Center
Team Brownsville: Humanitarian Assistance for Asylum Seekers (Texas)
Colores United-Refugee Shelter (Deming, New Mexico)
No Más Muertes (Arizona)
International Rescue Committee

6. Know your rights
Everyone in the US, regardless of immigration status, has certain rights and protections under the US Constitution. These ready-to-print cards (in different languages) help people assert their rights and defend themselves in many situations, such as when ICE agents go to a home. Please share these cards widely.