Sunday, July 26, 2015

You Say You Want A Revolution

After getting ready to practice for about fifty years, I decided to share a vision. 

I have learned it is wise to live on the model of what works, and forget about what grinds. Look around you. See all of the unnecessary follies, excursions, and repetitions, and just cut it out at the root in one, revolutionary stroke.

It is wise to stop resisting: clamoring for one more love, one more misery, one more beauty, one more addiction, forgetting that repeatedly doing the same thing, the same way, while expecting different results, is a widely recognized form of mental illness. 

The name of the illness is Oblivion. This is the illness of not knowing we are suffering; of not understanding the exact nature of suffering; of not knowing the very things we do to prevent suffering are, in fact, themselves causes of suffering.

We grasp at happiness with bitter desperation. We don't learn from our mistakes. Our desires blind us: they drive and deceive us. Our desires and the consequences of acting upon our desires consume our entire lives. We are cremated not once but twice each lifetime: first, we are roasted by our desires, then consumed on the funeral pyres.

People often speak about revolution. We are in the midst of a revolution. We are throwing off the old and beginning the new.

I think we need to get out of the way, and let the women warriors rise up. We can support this expansive, social change by acting in accord with requirements of the times. We are in the swirl of materialism versus spirituality, at the tipping point of greed, and we need to de-escalate, downsize, stand back, and stop consuming. In terms of our religious institutions, ordination for women appears to be a necessary step. In terms of our political institutions, women are a stabilizing presence.

We need to leave the cities, and go to small villages: restore them, renew them, wipe them clean of dust and let the treasures shine through. Instead of asking for more, we need to require less. We should be able to have what we need, and at the most basic level, this means we should at least have control of our own food and water.

Our houses and farms should be small, and our temples appropriate; but, our temples, our monasteries, our spiritual institutions, cannot become parasites on the community as a whole. We should serve the communities by living responsibly. We can be producers instead of parasites. 

As Buddhists we have a particular, historic responsibility to care for the environment. More and more of us need forego careers as technologists and head to simple careers serving the earth, waters, forests, and atmosphere. 

We also need to reach deeply inside education and change it from the bottom up.  There is nothing wrong with bringing morals and ethics into a child's studies from Grade School through High School. We also need to think in terms of re-sensitizing a generation of children who have been de-sensitized by the irresponsible, profit-driven mis-use of mass media. Our problems with violence will end.

Our problems with law enforcement will also end when we bring Buddhist sensibilities to the task. Policemen should live where they work, get out of the cars more often, and know the people they are policing. They cannot be allowed to degenerate into a despised sub-culture of the culture they purport to serve. The for-profit prison system should be abolished, and those presently incarcerated for offenses relating to a medicinal plant now legal in several states, should be released at once. 

In the same way, our problems with each other will end when we learn the name of the person living next door. When we stop and listen to them. When we take them into our hearts. The for-profit fear industry must be dismantled, as it leads to isolation, alienation, and a breakdown in compassionate communication. 

Let's drop the guns and pick up the guitars. Nothing wrong with marksmanship, but nothing beats music. Sports are great, but so is sculpture. Computer class is necessary but so is carpentry, and shop. If you learn how to propagate and cultivate plants, and build gardens, you can also become a skilled surgeon, at the same time. We need to put balance back into our lives. At the core of our society, balance, a sense of priority, and a sense of connection have been lost.

History as presently codified must be preserved at all costs, and books saved from physical destruction. Ours is the most dangerous time in history for the history of history, as history may be manufactured or re-manufactured at will. Historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, scholars of all sorts must safeguard their professions from the corruption that springs from greed.

Our living masters of the archaic arts and crafts must be venerated, and their knowledge passed on. Artists must be given their due. The old crafts cannot be allowed to die. This extends to the materials and tools needed to support such crafts, and direct subsidies for the craftsmen and artists' living and medical expenses. Precedents will be found in the treatment extended to scientists employed in the weapons industry. Our Revolution examines and demands parity with war-making machinery and oppression: we demand billions for the arts, and constructive sciences.

For every dollar spent on death, we demand a thousand be spent on life.

Let our utopias be ministered by poets instead of politicians, contemplatives instead of capitalists. "Government" is not the enemy and most certainly requires no overthrow. Government used to be populated by idealists with a call to serve. Let's find them and help them weed out the cynical exploitation of democratic government by non-democratic transnational corporate bodies.

The Revolution is one of compassion, and kindness: umbrella words that signal thousands upon thousands of possibilities to benefit life by living at ease with ourselves. "Compassion," and "kindness" can boil down to realization of our innately present understanding of shared humanity, devoid of selfish clinging. They arise naturally. They cannot be contrived. 

Moonlight has an extraordinary quality, both as metaphor, and by its singular temperature. As Buddhists we often use the example of the moon's reflection on the water. The moon's reflected light is itself reflected light: of a sunlight which burns the skin. Moonlight only burns the soul.

By moonlight, so bright, one sometimes thinks there is nothing to do but everything not to do. But, this way lies freedom!

By sun, light boils in a mirage: by night, the moon's light is a wide-open possibility for naturally arising drama and simplicity. 

So, then, I dream --

All over the land are narrow, moonlit roads to small villages, shuttered for the night. It is quiet, and the dogs do not bark.

Instead of flickering computer screens through the shutters, there is a glow of lamps on shrines. There is no throb of electricity, only wind through the trees, and a creature's odd cry. Prayer flags of all sizes, shapes, and dedications furl and unfurl: you can hear them. You can hear bells. Now and then, there are drums.

Near singular places, with promising signs, one finds modest farms and ranches, abandoned orchards, old mines: the shifting stagecraft of a rising and falling dream. 

There is your revolution. There is your life. There is your practice. There is the future of health, longevity, peace of mind, beneficial purpose, and meaningful Buddhist practice.

Out with the hammer and saw, the rake and barrow, walking in the field one stumbles on a piece of history. How many constructed ponds and shelters here before me? How many times will I dream this same dream? How many times will I move these same rocks? Who are the dreamers come before me?

What was their idea of beauty? What was their name for the Medicine Buddha? Could music make them well? Did music make them cry?

In our Revolution, one also thinks of Restoration: we think in terms of keeping that which is viable and discarding that which is not. Simple awareness holds out the promise of Repairing everything else. This occupies every crevice of our lives. This is the flood running through the dry washes, the trickle down the river, the sound when the stone finally hits the water in the bottom of a very deep well.

One by one now, people are beginning to search out these back roads. I see them in their caravans, large and small, on the way to encampments, traveling through old orchards come back to life. The ravens watch them from the rocks. Humminbirds and gentle creatures move to and fro, nourishing themselves in peace.

The world is changing. As members of the sangha, we can be some sort of ordinary refuge for one another.

At a spring, one places a vase, or a stupa, and restores a poisoned spirit. Down in the desert, we got together and planted some trees by the stupa. Across the way, a thousand-tree orchard blossomed, and a small Mahayana monastery appeared. A shrine came into being, and a Vajrayana chapel is rising. 

The revolution... is it really necessary? The revolution starts inside when you give up everything supporting that which you seek to overthrow. Why is this? Because, what you overthrow is your own projection. It begins and ends inside of you. All of this turmoil is self-created. If you don't want it, just stop it.

When you stop grasping, everything falls into place. You can be happy about that.

Things can return to normal. 

You can just go outside and listen to the bee mantras start up while the moon sets. You don't have to think about all that other nonsense stuff like who did what and when.

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