(The Dharma talk is posted below…. scroll down to skip to it)
We love you. We are here for you. We are crying with you. The world feels like it’s on fire. As one of our newest board members, Samantha Rise, said, “I love you and I’m so sorry the world can’t keep us safe. Things aren’t getting worse, they’re getting uncovered, and that is really ouchy stuff.” We couldn’t have said it better.
(Sam credits Adrienne Marie Brown, author of Emergent Strategy, with saying, “Things aren’t getting worse, they’re getting uncovered”)
We are also practicing the revolutionary acts of self-care, cultivating joy, and slowing down. In a world that encourages us to speed up, be productive and consume constant trauma in the media, these are radical acts. We are reminded that the path is the destination; how we get to individual and collective liberation is what that liberation will look like.
I’m writing this post for Peggy and Larry because they just got back from the Remembering, Honoring and Celebrating with our Ancestors retreat in Mexico. They touched down into the loving arms of the Mexican sanghas after a whirlwind of teaching in Japan, followed by Peggy going to NM to settle on and unpack their new house while Larry went to NY to attend a gathering of Buddhist teachers of Black-African descent, then to Philadelphia to work on Lotus stuff, then to give a public talk. We wanted to give you some updates and share a new dharma talk sooner rather than later and they gave me the a oh k before publishing. Thanks for your patience!
Larry and I spent a week in Philadelphia with another board member and deep practitioner, Victoria Mausisa, working on new online course content for the Virtual Academy, podcast possibilities, 2019 POC retreat planning and preparing for the public talk. We discussed ways in which this uncovering of deeper layers of racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, colonialism and the patriarchy are revealing themselves as deeply entrenched patterns in self and society world-wide. We imagined ways to offer more teachings and practices to address these patterns in ourselves, our sanghas, and our local communities as the work of awakening. We balanced our talks with nourishing food, deep rest and visits to inspiring places like Amalagam Comics, one of the first African American female-owned comic book stores in the US. The week was deep and rich.
We were able to record Larry’s talk in Philadelphia on America’s Racial Karma (Pt 1 of a series). It was given to an audience of about 65 practitioners and organizers/activists and it’s posted on our Soundcloud page (made possible by our awesome patrons!). The Soundcloud page is also the new home where private links to audio recordings of retreats will be posted for retreat participants. If you’ve attended a retreat with Lotus in the past 2 years you should get an email soon (if you haven’t already) from your retreat coordinators with links to your recordings!
The America’s Racial Karma talk is approximately 1hr 5min long and includes a guided meditation. Very relevant to what’s happening in the world. Have a listen:
A few days after the talk a far-right leader was elected via popular vote in Brazil, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting happened, and another shooting happened in an Alabama McDonalds. This on the heels of unprecedented voter suppression leading up to the Nov 6th elections. I emailed Larry and basically told him I was depressed and traumatized and practicing like my hair was on fire. This is what he said:
My heart too is still breaking,
tears still flowing onto the ground,
sadness and deeper conviction awakens
honoring those cut-down.
My heart is blocked where forgiveness flows.
I pray and wait for the release.
I pray and wait for a new social contract grounded is simple kindness and respect.
With every action, I pray and wait.
I continue to learn that taking good care of our traumatic activation in self and society is urgent. Both as prevention, during activation and living a post-traumatic life while not in denial or emotional bypass.
We’re working fervently on some online courses that address how to approach these issues, dismantle them and engage in the work/play of reconstructing something better, lighter, brighter. And, Peggy and Larry are going to start adding more direct trauma and resiliency training into in-person retreats in 2019. Columbus, Mexico, and Colorado will be the first. Dates and details (as they become available) are up on the Lotus website calendar. Scholarship support is always available, especially thanks to patrons and local sangha support.. We’re also close to identifying dates and location for a 2019 People of Color Retreat in California that will also include this work, so stay tuned.
At the end of the Philadelphia talk we had a dance party open to the whole audience. Larry wanted us to end in joy, hear the words to this song, and move our bodies. Thank you Staples Singers…. I’ll Take You There. Let’s go!
In Love, In Solidarity, and in Kindness That-Does-Not-Always-Look-Like-Being-Nice,
Deep Bows To You and Your Practice,
-Kim Fleisher (humbly stepping in for Peggy and Larry)
Lotus Institute Operations Director