Posts Tagged ‘total violence’

Confessions

May 26, 2008

It is hard to believe all that has transpired in the last 2 years.   Well actually the last 5 years!   Yes, before we pulled up stakes and moved to Hawaii, I had helped form and “build” a Buddhist Center.  It was a bumpy road, but something beautiful was indeed created a vibrant center of spiritual practice and social engagement.  We ran events throughout the week: Meditation, Study, discussion, and various ritual activities.  I engaged with local churches and volunteered with hospice (5 years) and the prison system (4 years).  We started a local Chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.  We put on a successful concert fundraiser to reach out to the public at large.  We also hosted many teachers, mostly Tibetan, as they gave profound teachings on the Buddhist Dharma, everything from basic meditation and ethics to Dzogchen.

And then, for me at least, it all went wrong.   Things that I had ignored, both in the group and in myself, came together to create a situation I was ill prepared to deal with.  I left.  However, I am happy to report that the Buddhist Center continues on and seems to be maintaining a full schedule.

Shortly after it all hit the fan, Judy and I were offered an opportunity to go to Hawaii to start and run a Buddhist Center on the Big Island.  In hindsight it was probably too soon.  We needed time to heal.  Nevertheless, we sold pretty much everything and relocated to the Big Island.  Once again it went wrong, and very quickly.  This time I think it is fair to say, given the rapid melt down of the situation, that much of the unraveling was about the organizations involved and the powers and people above us in those organizations, and not so much about us. We just chose the wrong situation based our own karmic tendencies.

In any case, for a few short months we successfully ran and built up a Buddhist retreat center.  We also organized and supported many teaching events around the Island.

I did not see it at the time, but this second organizational implosion was to mark a shift in my approach to religion.  In fact the last year and half have forced a deep process of self analysis and critique.  (In the meantime, I have been living simply, some would say primitively, and working on a peace and justice farm, growing food and challenging the violence and injustice that is creeping into our society because of a lack of vigilance by us, the citizens.)

The inspiration for the original Buddhist Center arouse out of a vision of the potential for Buddhism to be a transformational force in society.  After all, the world is suffering from the plague of violence.  Buddhism has a very strong and clear stance, so I thought, against violence and killing.  The goal of Buddhism is the elimination of Dukkha, suffering, which seems like a very noble goal on both the practical and ontological levels.

It is this vision of societal transformation that has driven and formed my life over these last many years.  I have been trying, again and again, to align my life with this vision.  It is and was a powerful vision. It has wrapped itself around my being and cannot be shaken.  It is what I must do, even if I fail and fall on my face again and again.

The question now is, where to begin?  Religion, philosophy, metaphysics, mysticism, spirituality, gnosis, occultism, whatever we call it, must be about the transformation of society in very real and concrete ways.  Inner personal transformation or salvation alone is not good enough.   We, as a species, are up against the wall.  Our normative social, religious, and economic paradigm has brought us to the edge of total violence (nuclear war) and ecological disaster.

Religion, to paraphrase Neitzche, is dead.   Religion still has power, but has sold its soul.  It has, in its many forms, aligned itself too closely with the “principalities and powers” that are leading us down the path to disaster.   There are, of course, religious people and even organizations that are doing great things.  But on the whole, religion is a lead weight pulling us down. This is not to dispute the fact that within the vast accumulation of religious literature and teachings from the past thousands of years there are not to be found valuable tools that can be used in the struggle to transform society.   Many teachers and teachings have historically appeared in the world and challenge normative society and its values.  However, today, we do not have the leisure of thousands of years to work our the salvific principles of a given religious teaching in history.  We are on a short timeline. We have decades not millennia. 

I do not yet have a form or specific direction, but I can feel the pressure to begin and I know that this time the shape will be very different from my past experiments with manifesting this vision.

Peace, Paul