Bodhisattvas Among Us

Bodhisattvas Among Us

Discussion date: Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

On Monday we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., who 46 years ago recounted in front of the Lincoln Memorial a prophetic dream:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." . . .

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

On Tuesday we see Barack Hussein Obama sworn into office as the first African-American president of the United States. For many, Obama’s presidency represent the fulfillment of King’s dream, not just because of his skin color, but also, because of his moral vision.

In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition a person who combines great moral vision and courageous moral action is a bodhisattva, an awakened human being. A bodhisattva has gone beyond his or her own likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, to embrace the suffering and joys of others, and to embrace all of life.

This Thursday, after our sitting meditation, we will practice together the guided movement meditation Invoking the Bodhisattvas Names. In this meditation we bring to awareness the qualities of the four great Bodhisattvas: Avalokiteshvara (compassion), Manjusri (understanding), Samantabhadra (great action), and Ksitigarbha (great vow). We invoke the Bodhisattvas’ names to recognize the magnanimous qualities they represent, so that we can nourish the seeds of those qualities in ourselves.

After the Bodhisattva meditation we will share how we have been touched by bodhisattvas in our own lives, whether they be the bodhisattvas from the Mahayana tradition; the moral heroes of our time, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Mother Teresa; or the unsung heroes – the relatives, teachers, mentors, authors, and colleagues who have transformed us with their generosity, compassion, and caring.

You are invited to join us.

The best times to join our Thursday evening gatherings are just before the beginning of our 7 p.m. meditation, just before we begin walking meditation, around 7:25, and just after our walking meditation, around 7:35.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher

 


Martin Luther King, Jr., On the Interrelatedness of Life
from “A Christmas Sermon on Peace,” 1967

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.

 


 

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Jan 22, 2009


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