Sankofa Journey

Sankofa Journey

Discussion date: Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, Lydia and Peter Mosher will share some of the ways their Sankofa pilgrimage to Ghana touched their hearts and changed them. They write:

In early October, 2013, we spent 8 days in Ghana with a group from All Souls Church, Unitarian.

It was a journey for people with African ancestry to explore their roots, especially in relationship to the slave trade and the tribulations of their ancestors who survived the passage to America from their homelands as captives of ruthless traders. Of the 18 people who went, two were non-African-American, long-time partners of African-Americans.

In preparation for our journey, the group met several times over 8 months. Early on we watched the movie Sankofa, which portrays captives being transported from West Africa into slavery in the United States. The word Sankofa refers to learning from the wisdom of the past to use it in the building of the future. This was an objective of our journey. While in Ghana we traveled the routes along which the captives were force marched, ending in the dungeons of slave castles on the Atlantic coast.

We also were introduced to Ghanaian culture, history and crafts, but by far the most profound part of the journey was in relationship to the slave trade. We were constantly in physical, mental, and emotional situations that tested and made applicable our mindfulness practice. We were helped by one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s poems:

I have arrived, I am home.

In the here, in the now.

I am solid, I am free.

In the ultimate I dwell.

You are invited to be with Lydia, Peter, and the Still Water community this Thursday evening. A short piece on the Buddhist perspective on slavery, from the freetheslaves.net web site, is below:

Warm wishes,

Mitchell

Faith In Action | Buddhism

From freetheslaves.net

The Buddhist belief in karma and reincarnation has been used in the past to justify slavery, the logic being that a person’s enslavement must be a result of punishable actions in a previous life. But in other cases, Buddhist temples have served as safe-havens for escaped slaves. And the Chinese Emperor Wang Mang, a Buddhist, may have been history’s first powerful abolitionist, outlawing the slave trade in the year 9 A.D.

The eight-fold path of Buddhist beliefs explicitly teaches against the trade in living beings. According to Buddha’s "Discourse to Sigala" in the Sigalovada Sutta, an employer should care for workers by assigning work according to ability, paying just wages, providing health care, providing perks and granting leave time. While the Buddha did not directly address slavery in this Sutta, it is impossible to imagine slavery surviving in any area where these teachings are followed.

The Buddhist tradition of mindfulness encourages the faithful to consider one’s personal responsibility in larger systems such as the global economy, as well as in smaller systems such as one’s attitudes toward others. This holistic perspective prompts Buddhists to ask if they benefit from slavery and slave-tainted products, even if they aren’t personally involved in trafficking and slavery. Mindfulness challenges Buddhists to think in connected, systemic terms.

According to the Dalai Lama, "Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individual and nations are free."

———-

"Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom."

-Dalai Lama

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Feb 20, 2014


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