Black Lives Matter
The Heart’s Response
I had the privilege this June to sit on a meditation retreat online through True North Insight. It was the first of its kind for me, being on retreat in my home with 200 other participants from all over the world. From my cushion, the Zoom screen became the dharma hall with the teachers and meditators in gallery view.
Over the course of 3 days we covered a lot of inner terrain; but one teaching in particular stood out for me – compassion and its critical relevance.
In the language of early Buddhism, compassion is one of the four brahmaviras (divine abodes) and is referred to as karuna. It’s defined by the heart’s response to suffering and in this context, compassion has a very active role. Not only is our heart moved when we experience suffering (our own and other’s), but we are asked to move in closer to the suffering so that we know it. And from that knowing, we are moved to respond. There is so much in our world right now that is calling our heart to action.
At the Black Lives Matter march in Guelph recently I stood behind a young black man with his son. I wondered what each of them was thinking. My heart was breaking for the injustice the black community has endured on so many levels, knowing that my white privilege has contributed to their suffering. I wanted to say something to them, but felt it was not the time to speak, rather to listen and pay attention.
Since then, and especially on retreat, I’ve had time to get closer to my heart’s response to the call from our black community. There is definitely shame, grief, and anger there, for not acknowledging or taking responsibility sooner for the systemic racism that has created so much suffering. But there is also a motivation to dig in and do something.
Although it’s been a challenging few months for the studio, transforming the physical space to an online presence, it has also broadened our view. There is a much larger community that needs our attention and care. Compassion and wisdom are at the heart of our practice but until we really see and act to dismantle the injustices in our culture, suffering will continue.
As the owners and directors of Arrive, Ken and I are committed to learning more about how we can facilitate change in our community so that we all feel equally at home in ourselves and with each other. It begins with moving closer to our own ignorance and discomfort when we acknowledge how our unchecked privileges have created alienation, discrimination, and death.
We welcome you to join us. As a start, with the permission of True North Insight, we have included a link to TNI’s Equity/Inclusion Resource page. Here, you will find an extensive list of reading, viewing, and listening resources to move us in the direction of understanding, action, and peace:
The heart is not only moved to act through suffering, it responds and is healed through love.
May all beings be free of pain, discrimination, and suffering.
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