Don’t Be Confused is a Dharma Talk (video) by Larry Ward on our ability to be living bodhisattvas, awakened embodiments of the path of compassionate action. In this time of crisis in our world there is both great danger and great opportunity; Larry reminds us what we are capable of, and what is possible for us as practitioners and beings committed to individual and collective healing, transformation and liberation. Approx 40 min
By Larry Ward
I experience mixed feelings around the Fourth of July celebration in The United States. As a young person growing up in the US, I stayed silent about these feelings with no skill of how to interact with them. Thanks to my practice I have come to realize that maybe nothing in life is more difficult than coming home to my whole self. There is light and shadow within lurking and influencing my body, thoughts, and deeds. I am still learning how to embrace my whole self.
I awoke this morning in the cool air on the sacred ground of New Mexico. I walk fully aware that the ground I touch is full of wonder, tears and prayers of land ancestors who have gone before and are thankfully still present. In 1994, my beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh reminded us, “There is a deep malaise in our society. We have to acknowledge this, especially if we want to transform it.” The great aspiration of our practice, to acknowledge our feelings of discomfort and uneasiness, is about the healing and transformation of both self and society at its deepest levels.
Individually and collectively we must overcome our fear of coming home to our whole self. This means not only celebrating positive aspects of ourselves but also acknowledging and embracing our treachery, heartbreak, shadows and the trail of grief hidden inside each of us and flowing between us. This is a deep inner social crisis, and we must learn to acknowledge, accept and practice with it using the action of fierce love. What we choose at this moment will ripple throughout our souls and the souls of generations to come.
I have a daily practice of mindfully scanning the news. Every day I discover that my heart opens, smiles and breaks as I bring my full awareness to my life in America. Lama Tsultrim Allione speaks to my experience in our society. She states, "A collective demon can become a raging force in which individual people function like cells in the demon’s body. The monster takes on a life of its own, and individuals are carried along with it. These individuals may not even realize how they have helped to create the monster. As both history and contemporary life so tragically underscore, collective demons can lead to genocide and other horrors that ordinarily would be unimaginable.” Lama Tsultrim Illuminates our deepest individual and collective challenge.
Coming home to our whole self includes not only acknowledging and embracing demonic energies within each of us but also in healing and transforming these energies in our institutions and social patterns. Our work is to raise up our highest human qualities which these dark energies obscure, trap and devalue. Our practice of mindfulness and meditation is more than stress management as the secular notion of mindfulness often suggests. When understood and embodied, the full framework of Buddhist practice is revolutionary, transforming consciousness at its deepest levels and overcoming greed, hatred and cruelty.
In the recent words of Melvin McLeod, “Buddhism is about revolution, not reform. It is not about improving our lifestyle or easing our (individual and collective) suffering in transient or superficial ways. It is about cutting suffering at its root. That requires radical changes in who we are, the ways we act, and how we see reality. Buddhism turns everything upside down. That’s called enlightenment.
On this day please ask yourself what do you wish to be liberated from? What is your desire for your nation to be liberated from? What actions can you take to make these liberations possible?
What are you trusting in to guide and energize your life actions?
This afternoon watering the garden I was struck by the beauty and power of the orange California poppies rising up from the rocks. These self-naturalizing flowers are pointing the way forward. I invite us all to spend the time to nourish the best of ourselves and not look outside for our approvals. We can nourish the best in ourselves and in each other no matter what our constructed labels of identity. For in the Dharma we know that we are one.
I'm 70 years old,
and I see the alpha and omega
of all things
I say that each of us
are called to shake the temples
of heaven and earth
as we construct
the sanctuary of hearts
Fill this sanctuary
however small, however mundane
with the thunder of fierce equanimity
with the wind of compassion
with the elegance of joy
with the grace of bravery
and the sweetness of love
no birth and no death
hide in all phenomena
and all things that come
into the view of your body
Be not afraid,
fall deeper into the depths of awakening of your precious humanity
Lotus has been working hard this past year to create infrastructure that better supports you to shake the temple! We've held multiple think tanks with regional sangha members and created a plan to move Lotus forward.
Many of you have met or been introduced via email to Kim Fleisher, who is helping craft and implement this vision. We are pleased to welcome her as our new Operations Director! You may hear from Kim as we refine retreat coordination and launch new programs. She's basically the director of making-stuff-happen, so when there are needs or questions around details, you might be talking to her in addition to or instead of me or Larry. Welcome Kim! Her new Lotus email is, fittingly, lotusteamhelp at gmail dot com.
Kim will be helping us with things like streamlining retreat coordination, video/audio recording and uploading (and making it easily accessible to you!), communication, refining the website, creating online programming (that's right - online classes!), and launching a better, more accessible model for those of you who want to support Lotus and have a voice in our operations. We've chosen Patreon- It's a service that allows you to give a monthly donation, as low as $1, to support Lotus and make it more accessible to others. As a 'patron' you also receive a platform to have a special voice in helping steer the direction of Lotus activities. Together we can make things happen! Stay tuned for our Patreon launch...
In other news, we are moving! Charlie, Larry and I will be landing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's a big process that's requiring a lot of time and energy. We thank you for your patience, love and support as we make this next, exciting step!
With so much love for you, for the earth, and for all beings,
Peggy, Larry, Charlie and Kim
Hi Dear Friends,
50 years ago on this day, my heart broke.
the air thick with shock, sadness, and fear.
Fires burning, shouts and screams,
and yet the dead MLK was present.
Riding on the river of tears
Silence, I found my calling
Silence, I wrote my first sermon
Silence, I found my voice.
A few years ago at the Northridge campus of the University of California, I served on a panel with Reverend Lawson. Our topic was to describe our tradition's vision of a just society.
I remembered then a few villages in India that he visited while training in Gandhi's strategy of non-violence for social change. He is a fine man and a true pastor in his continued service to the world. To hear him speak of justice in economic, political and cultural dimensions makes my heart sing. Please enjoy the clip below.