Dear Still Water Friends,
For a long time after my marriage ended, I struggled to understand what it meant to keep the Third Mindfulness Training as a single person not in a relationship. Should the training fade into the background until I was again in relationship? That made the training seem so limited, especially when compared to the deep role the other trainings play in my life. Eventually, I came to understand that this training, like the others, offers a much deeper ethic for us as individuals and as a society.
Before we consider how we govern our private relationships, the Third Mindfulness Training calls us to commit ourselves to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. In many ways, it presents a challenge to the dominant society. If the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society means anything, it must include freedom from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the freedom to love who you love, without having your relationship devalued by your government or society. Personal integrity must include the freedom to express your gender as you choose to express it.
Thay says again and again: each mindfulness training incorporates all of the others. So, I’ve come to understand that I need to be sure that I’m actively trying to learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of others and intervening to protect others when appropriate, no matter how uncomfortable it may make me feel. I need to be mindful that I am not intentionally or unintentionally taking another’s self-respect, something that is not mine to take. I need to be mindful of how my choice of language furthers or hinders this broader protecting of the safety and integrity of others. I need to be mindful of any craving for or addiction to the historically privileged position of men in our society.
This Thursday evening, after meditation we will recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings and focus on the Third Mindfulness Training. Our Dharma sharing will begin by exploring how we can foster this broader protection of the safety and integrity of others in our practice of the Third Mindfulness Training.
I hope you can join us.
Excerpt from The Mindfulness Survival Kit by Thich Nhat Hanh:
The Third Mindfulness Training is a reminder that we can love people from a place of understanding and compassion, not just out of need. When we love someone, we have to see that we are one with that person. Their suffering is our suffering and our suffering is theirs. We can’t exclude the other person from our own happiness and suffering. The safety and integrity of the person is our own safety and integrity.
Excerpt from For a Future to Be Possible by Thich Nhat Hanh, quoting Sulak Sivaraksa:
We have to look at the structures of male dominance and the exploitation of women worldwide. The structures of patriarchal greed, hatred, and delusions are interrelated with the violence in the world. Modern militarism is also closely associated with patriarchy. Buddhist practice points toward the development of full and balanced human beings, free from the socially-learned “masculine” and “feminine” patterns of thought, speech, and behavior, in touch with both aspects of themselves.
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