Everything Is Burning

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can you all hear me okay
i took a look around to see who is here and it's wonderful to to see all of you on this beautiful but
saturday morning their friends from busy see i see people from r keto i see people from the music i see couple of people from high school ah if this is the remarkable opportunity that comes with ah
this bizarre circumstance that were in with the pandemic so we're learning how to count to deal with that
i'm i want to begin
by just reading a verse from ah
the editor perry i suitor which is otherwise known as the fire sermon and i'm not going to read that sort of a bridge this ah but it gets the point of what i think is on my mind
monks all is a flame
a flame with what
a flame with the fire of passion
the fire of a version
the fire of delusion
a flame i tell you with birth aging and death
with sorrow lamentation pain distress and despair
so today i notice is the so weekend of the full moon
and we would customarily have our bodies sought for ceremony or today and so
the whole ceremony i'd like to begin by chatting the sunday morn the verse of repentance and i invite those views that noah to put your hands and gosh show and a chant this with me three times
oh my a chair and dangle karma from beginning less greed hey ten delusion born through body speech and mind i now
fully of out all my agent angle karma from be getting less greed a ten delusion born through body speech and mind i now fully
yeah owl all my ancient tangle karma from be getting less greed hate and delusion board through body speech and mind i now fully wow
so this is the a vowel
the acknowledgement of
all of our karma our present karma or past karma the karma debt the actions that we see and the actions whose roots and branches we can never fully encompass
and that's a meaningful acknowledgement particularly today
in our country in view of
the really
deeply troubling events that have been unfolding for the last two weeks in the midst of the pandemic ah the surfacing of ah
racism the surfacing of of hatred
the surfacing of systems of white supremacy
and arm i've been thinking about this for the last two weeks and i've been aware that i'm scheduled to give this talk
and basically i have to confess that the pieces of my talk ah aren't to the ln all about my mind today is like shards of broken glass
ah each one of these pieces and i have pages of notes ah is shiny and sharp
and i really don't know quite how they fit together so i'm feeding them together for myself and
whatever i think
the reality is that
each of us has to fit together the pieces of our thinking the pieces of our action and words and pieces of our life for ourselves
i begin i want to call
the names i've just a few
of black people who've been killed by police
in our recent memory
is george floyd in minneapolis
briony taylor
who was shot by police in her own home in louisville kentucky
freddie gray in baltimore
eric garner in new york city
michael brown in ferguson missouri
tamir rice age twelve in cleveland
since two thousand and fifteen
more than two thousand black and hispanic people have been killed by police
this is more than twice the rate
of those of the of white americans who've been shot by police for population that ah
in aggregate
reaches about twenty percent to pay twenty twenty five percent of the population were black and hispanic
so also we remember
ah ahmad armory
who was killed chased down by racist thugs in georgia
and will remember trayvon martin age seventeen
killed by his self appointed neighborhood watchman in florida
and while we're at it
i want to call the names of
derek sheldon
and his fellow officers thomas lane
a doubt cow
alexander queen
who together
kill george floyd
i include the police here because
while i am appalled and angry
at their actions
i know that i cannot imagine their fear
and they are suffering in those various moments of conflict
and also
what i believe and i'm not asking you to accept isn't just inviting to think
i believe that in many
ah the police force enacts the shadow of our own delusion in fear
and i include myself here
and whatever race of the police officer may be there again they're enacting to me they're enforcing a system
of white supremacy that they may not even know that they participate in
we sit here
in our flames
and while i recognize that the flames burn hotter in some other places
and among other people then perhaps on my quiet block in berkeley
the destruction
and the violence on lives is very near
the grief is terrible
there's a burden of responsibility
along with many of you i am tried to see what exactly i can do
i'm listening i'm watching
i am not knowing and bearing witness
in face as jerry was talking about last week and face that an appropriate an appropriate responses will arise
whether they succeed or fail

just to what
to break my own rules
for speaking from the dharma seat
i want to call out
president trump
and the administration
for what i see
giving the permission
to take the lid off of the situation that already that has always existed
but with that permission
they give
power to separation
to chaos
the hatred
and violence
when a president says dominate the protesters when he says when the looting short starts the shooting starts
at boeing
miami's white supremacist police chief walter headley and nineteen sixty seven who himself was then his words were taken up by presidential candidate george wallace the following year
when a president and his administration cause a massive police and a police force and armed federal forces using flash bang bang grenades and rubber bullets to clear away peaceful protesters so he can walk across the street with an unopened
bible in his hand
to take a photo op
that leaves me
very angry
i don't dwell in that anger
but i acknowledge it
it's a human emotion and the task of her practice is to turn that
into action to turn to use that anger as energy not as a retributive force
but to turn it so that
i can be part of a force that
turns our
society that turns our community
i was very moved by or something that i got from ah from vicky austin ah who gave a talk last weekend in sacramento and she cited up
something that was written about a
the proprietor of a indian restaurant in
ha last week
his name is ghandi mahal
and his daughter writes this
thank you to everyone for checking in
oh i'm sorry his name was in gandhi mahal his restaurant's name was gandhi mahal thank you for everyone for checking in sadly gandhi mahal has caught fire and has been damaged we won't lose hope though
i am so grateful for our neighbors who did their best to stand guard and protect our restaurant
your efforts won't go unrecognized
don't worry about us we will rebuild
this is hafsa
rahul islam's daughter writing
as i am sitting next to my dad watching the news
i hear him say on the phone
let my building burn
justice must be served put those officers in jail
gandhi mahal may have felt the flames last night but our fiery drive to help protect and stand with our community will never die
peace be with everyone
that that's what hafsa islam wrote
and i will say parenthetically that there has been a go fund me
ah account set up to help rebuild gaudy mahal
and i sent them a small amount of money as i was very moved by this story
so everything is coming up together
the terrible
the inspiring

another shard if you will
i came across this week
in a facebook post a facebook post from my friend or vimeo sarah mason john
she's an angle african buddhist teacher ah in the the head of the tree rotten not community in vancouver and she's a wonderful teacher very strong voice
here's what she wrote
she said how do i as a meditation keep it how do i as a meditation teacher teach my black sanga to breathe
eric garner and george floyd both said
i can't breathe
and still they were killed
how many of us are not breathing
holding our breaths when a police car passes us
i for one stop reading every time a police car passes me
i stop and stand still waiting to see if it's for me
this is learned behavior
and in the meditation rooms we say you must breathe
how can we breezed with ease
when we sit on our cushions the embrace in the outbreaks strangled by the institutional racism and white supremacy
i can really
here the conundrum
i can feel it to some extent but i can't feel it the same way that she feels it
or that
one of the many young african american men who walked down or block feels him
and yet are teaching is rooted in
breathing in the breath we say that the breath is something that we all have we all should be able to be relaxed and easy in it
and yet we begin to recognize that that may not be possible for everyone

another shard

where's the hear this
i'd like to if you if you're not familiar with it i want to show you ups it's backwards
i wonder if i could flip this one second and strong words for us on for is okay or a great ah it's backwards read it says the vinny crow know and it says the the inner work of racial justice by robyn mcgee and rhonda is a
lawyer and a mindfulness teacher here in the bay area an african american woman this is a really excellent for it's it's a book about the actual
actual practice how we
in what we say is and what suzuki roshi says is that
our practice is to include everything
and that's not just the good things are the wholesome things it's whatever it is that we're feeling
and the
the essence of buddhist liberation is not just
getting rid of what we don't like
so this morning
i you know i woke up with a
ah just of
slightly nauseated
very unsteady feeling in my gut and ah
i was oh this is this is anxiety i'm nervous about giving this talk which is actually pretty unusual for me i'm ah now i'm not saying that some time to talk so good and sometimes or not but irrespective that i usually don't get too nervous about
them ah and yet this morning that was
and i still feel some of that energy and my body because ah
at bottom
i do not have answers for myself or for you
i just have questions and i'm just watching
but what i realized was that
buddhist practice
i actually had to make an effort to include that anxiety and that unsettled this and not excluded not trying to figure out a way to resolve it but just to say okay that's the
way it is
and to feel as we will sarah was saying that will that anxiety it was not so easy to breathe
i tried to bring my attention to my breath and i've found my breath was constricted
ha i couldn't
i couldn't quite
get it down into my belly
and haven't be free
what that felt like was ah i would breathe in and then as i was breathing out instead of being able to to do a relatively long steady smooth at sale there was a catch
and i had to breathe out quickly and then quickly take a breath in ah and
i just
noticed that
i just asked myself the question how can i work with this right now not how can i make it go away but just okay let me put my attention on my breath
and see where it goes
hello to change it didn't change categorically
but it changed and then some other
thought bubble would arise and again i would feel some sense of anxiety
and again
not too
get rid of the anxiety but his but to say okay let me try to put my attention on my breath right at this moment
that's relatively because the anxiety and fear was not so heavy duty it wasn't so hard for me to do
in the case of what villa zahra was saying that the learned response each time a police car passes that's a much deeper
at much more deeply implanted
energy or seed war trauma that can affect one before one even is quite aware of it
and still what we have to do is try
so i want to read you an exercise from from rhonda's book
and of find yourself up a stable upright posture

so see if you can sit upright
and just locate your breath
whatever your own racial background
allow yourself to consider how whiteness
has been the primary racial character category
of embodied social power in our country and elsewhere around the world
being non-white has opened countless people around the world to vulnerability to harm
non whiteness has been constructed as embodied social vulnerability
consider how our state sponsored laws and institutions were for generations explicitly aligned around the commitment to maintain white supremacy and in a capitalist society explicitly white
wealthy building
reflect on the vast implications of this
even now whiteness is associated with privileges blackness with subjugation
while other groups are compelled to stand in support of this hierarchy
would you try to avoid getting involved
when consciousness supports it people of all backgrounds white allies and an array of people of color come together to fight for dignity for all
breathing in and out as you take the sin
notice any emotions that arise
i would say
notice your emotional response to what i've been reading
notice how you feel about this in relation to your own life
and except even even if this troubles you and you rejected except the fact that this is your emotion and i'm certainly willing to i'm willing to accept that dumb get i'm not prescribing what emotion you should have
so breathing in and out as you take the sin notice any emotions and thoughts that arise
notice these then let them go
again i would add you may not so easily be able to let them go
i would say like letting go is an expression that we use a kind of freely
yeah and it's good to recognize it's not always so easy to let go
if you can then it's very easy if you can't than it's not
she rounded rights what choices you make on a daily basis to ally with others in the fight for equity and transformative justice
what thoughts stories habits or patterns
get in the way of taking additional steps to ally with those fighting for universal dignity and transformative justice
what does somebody specific steps you would personally need to take to break through the barriers
de working with others for justice
that's that's her last question what are some of the specific steps you personally would need to take to break through the barriers to working with others for justice
when i was thinking about that last question myself
what i realized was that these patterns are so old for me
you know i'm thinking back to my childhood
i'm thinking back to how
my relatives and my ah my parents in their community how they how they
spoke about african american people
and how that was communicated to me as a child
an amazingly how this happened even as
we had a pretty steady stream have mostly young african american women working in our home through my early childhood
and how i learned to see them these young women as other
and they had other lives that they went to which i knew nothing about
and now with great regret
i ponder
who were they
what were your lives and how deeply
was a seed of separation planted in me that even now at the age of seventy two
i'm still discovering things about
so that's some of my work
and that's work
from the side of whiteness
those of us in our sanga in our community who are
hispanic or asian have their own set of seeds
and influences and history to work with
and i do wish to know about them
because they are my sisters and brothers
and i recognize that
from what we call the white side which i have some
some doubts about because each of us there's no such thing as whiteness whiteness is instructed it's a constructed reality ah and they're all kinds of manifestations specific manifestations of experience and of
oppression that different ones of us experience on the basis of our background on the basis of our growing up
and we do need to unpack that that's the actual practice of buddhism
he's not
about having some experience it's actually about
transforming our minds transforming are thinking so that we can transform our lives
so that we can enact the bodhisattva vow that we're going to chant at the end of this session ah
the vow to
awaken with others
to help go across
these various mental divides which create real divides of power real divides of resources but they begin in our mind and so this is a work that we can do but we have to do this we're recognizing that it is never separate
from the actual manifestation of that thinking the way it comes out in the world
so it's not just some i think this way you think this way it's like we're enacting what we think with our words and with our deeds and the goal of enlightenment is not an experience it's actually acts
the goal of enlightenment
to change the way we live
which inevitably means actually changing the way
we think of ourselves and recognizing that ourselves are in no way distinct from all of the others all the other beings that are around us and you can extend that to the planet itself
so all of these
all of the realities of our world are actually
one manifestation
so whom we talk about racism we're also talking about
taking care of our environment
we're taking a we're looking at
how we eat how we live how we use the air and water around us
all of that is part of one integral system
and right view the first step on the eightfold path
he is actually
to see
the ever changing dynamic of that system
to see that it has always flowing
and that we are not separate from it we are part of it
and so i think i'm going to read you one more poem and then i'm gonna stop and leave time little time for questions and i wanted to to leave you with our
to come back to the beginning to come back to the
reality of racial oppression in our society and a
to read your palm
this is by
disappointment you you may have heard before it's by langston hughes
and it was written in nineteen fifty one he was a great african american poet ah and it ultimately is some is titled harlem or it's titled or sometimes a dream deferred
what happens to a dream deferred
does it try up like a raisin in the sun
or fester like a sore and then run
does it stink like rotten meat
or crushed and sugar over
like a syrupy sweet
maybe it just sags like a heavy load
what does it explode
so thank you or a turn it over to i guess place to call on the hands said right
thank you
i was on
so we have some time for curiae i invite you to raise your blue hand which is if you go to open the participants and you'll see some buttons there for the raised my hand and all of us are getting this and then i will call
call on you and you can lower your hand and non-meat yourself when please don't forget to meet yourself on after don't ask me questions and also please be concise and on i invite people who haven't spoken on to speak if you'd like to
first that ross blonde please and meet yourself and down as question
good morning huzzah thank you so much for your talk next was
i heard the turn before about that a whiteness is the construction or made up and i was struck that and now reminded and i wonder if you could explain is that in a buddhist context set the construction is the scandals so all races are constructions are just something specific
it to the idea of white construction or whiteness know i think it's i think well you can think of it in a buddhist in buddhist terms ah which which would make total sense in terms of identity any kind of identity which is why the buddha
when the buddha himself spoke about issues of color of varna ah and cast or as constructed when he said was i don't see somebody as a brahmin by virtue of their birth ah or their community i see them by virtue of their ass
actions and so in that sense he opened his saga to people of all different castes and also to two women which was a radical act so he there you have the buddha from a buddhist side looking at ah the the question of construction from a so
social history side ah you know what we see if we look back at ah
add tog even western history is that ah that certain even within recent history ah
you know
eastern europeans southern europeans irish they were not seen as white
and gradually because of the work into the system they get seen as a jewish people weren't you know i mean i don't know about your experience but i was very carefully trained by my mother
to perceive anti semitism
and she was right i wasn't just making this up i was experiencing it so what we what we have is a consolidated sense of whiteness is not strictly accurate and yet by virtue of the fact that
of a facial differentiation say between the skin color of african american people asian people hispanic people and so-called white people to some degree that that becomes a martyr for this idea
entity but it's in in buddhist terms in human terms in physiological terms it's a construction
thank you so much yeah thank you
oh next up a
kelsey ominous is kelsey amuse herself and lowers your head i invite everybody if you'd like you can type of question ah in the chatbox will try to get to it and you might want to put the word question in front of the question so my eyes are drawn to it thank you
the morning has and think you saw the type of that heights
i was reading an article and it was talking about amy cooper who was the white woman hill the same day i believe that george flood was murdered was filming an african american bird watcher and yeah in central park that occurrence and
after the fact she said something like i never would have imagined something like this would happen to me or
i think implying something like this is something i would necessarily do like there was some remorse in that and i just think i think this is more of a common than a question but
it ties into practice for me in that every single one of us is amy cooper yeah i'm and every single one of us has that capacity to react that way and and just when you are talking about noticing you know anxiety about getting your talk i also
was thinking what do you know we can never know but and you brought this up to what do these police officers you know what did they feel and you know
how are they holding that which most the time i feel like they're not there's a reaction there but i'm mostly comments but i just wanted to bring that in and also the kind of there's in it there's a reaction from me to try and to find myself from people like any cooper without realizing that really like that couldn't be
mean right well just take i don't want to answer that question with two things come to mind one i remember in a celebration that were a commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary the bombing of hiroshima and nagasaki we had a we had an event in know
wada at the nevada nuclear test site and it was a it was a clergy religious event and one after another these clergy people were standing up and saying
how could we have done this basically saying i would not have done this and i was sitting there in the audience and window when i got up to talk i said i don't know what i would have done
i'm not willing to say i would not have done this it really depends on the information the training you will do you're trained to do and some of our training is explicit i think police received explicit training military receive it's was the training of different kinds and we receive every human race
he saves training ah and what we're trying to do is replace one kind of training with another kind of training that's buddhist practice that somebody called practice and training ah so ah we have to retrain ourselves but the other thing i want
to point out was a my understanding is that in the aftermath of that event in central park the the african american gentleman who was bird watching forgave her which to me was a was a radically instead
captive move very very powerful and ah you know also i wonder if my training would have allowed that could i have done that i don't know but his example is a kitchen to me
oh thank you
our next up is our heiko but before we get to heiko a quick question was on what is justice
no justice okay that's a really big question and i want to see personal justice is not
justice is something that's very deeply explored in the in the western ah political and philosophical tradition it's not so much articulated in
explicitly in the buddhist tradition ah although ah
there are there are some passages that that you could say speak to zap palm i think would watch emphasize in buddhism is just ah
oh and just as the root of justice so just to me means ah a a status of balance that things are imbalance which is why we have the image of justice as is blindfolded lady holding a sign
ale which is imbalanced but would i would say should answer and it's another talk which
which i've given and will give again i think very much on my hero b r ambedkar of india who speaks about
liberty equality fraternity and to me justice is the intersection and the interrelationship of those three practices liberty equality fraternity sides said that's a much longer discussion
thank you for the question and you on next pago invite you to only yourself and lower your hand
good morning everyone thank you rosanne for your talk i was like a journey with many different islands of destination and i'm still looking at the photos but i wanted to say one a dead i studied philosophy in college in our american and western philosophers hume like a hard on
these guys i admired and then a second reading you realize you're building in at that level the enlightenment built in racism and allowed it to be easily because the words were so beautiful easily shipped out such that colonialism and racism became one thing and the next thing you know ah it
easy to share by the so-called soundbites as a day but my real question or comment is that
poser you said so nice to respond as trained and as you were reading from a that wonderful blog we you brought us all to the breadth and said okay now that thing comes up and we are breathing but we're not doing anything with it and i thought to myself okay so we bring up the
the feelings of discomfort and disease being part of a race that suppressor and part of a society that builds it in and ships it out to the world
and we will respond though as trained
and so as i then why do we do we bring it up we see we feel it and the embody being in my case petticoat would respond as train yes but if i did bring it up and let it sit and look for a disembodied being and i'll think judy and and jerry for bringing me into the
ah circle of of jizo with the ideas when it comes up we give it out to the world and the world has an answer for us so that we can not respond as so that we can allow it to just be and i think that's where you left as hassan was we sit with it and allow it to be
but i would say we could push it into the december than a nine embodied beings that is say the larger self that we are that has other training
and not do anything ourselves so sitting with it and sitting with it and recognizing our few options and that i know if you could come into that thank you very much my comment
briefly is that everything is training and that on
i don't know about the disembodied self ah i i know i can no it's not that
it's not right
disbelieve in mystery or forces beyond my understanding but
all that i have control over his my mind
and that means what i would i think say and do and arm
i can be open to what i experience which then becomes part of my mind but any way to meet all of that is all of that i have to open to training which means i have to be open to all the experience beyond me
outside so called outside of me which is not really outside of me and i want to leave it bare if that's okay
on when there's if somebody could put a lake the to protests especially buddhist led protests in the chat that would be nice on there is also blake i'm gonna also put on afterwards i'll send out i have a list of
of of resources organizational resources and and study resources which i will put out on the bcc list yes please see that people on we and there was of course a reference to the works by james baldwin on a off to mention the
chat for further reference in our final question is from emily perry i invite you to unmute yourself and free hand and ask the question
thank you alan and thank you everyone and with conversation
with nanak attachment but in the narrative
i grew up in meant mostly african american but multi racial
family engaged
and liberation theology and civil-rights movement i myself was an elaboration theology movement in haiti and in our family the race was they understood as a social construct a lot of that fell away and there's a celebration of culture and the many different cultures that emerge
when i came to buddhism and a spiritual ecology are there was very harmonious natural coming together those values and a release of the identity politics and because i've been working in spiritual college in climate change work out
outside of the us and been gone for about twenty five years i've landed back here during calvin and now with with kind of the infection over
racial construct illness and this country all coming out into the light
and i
there's so much toxicity and the way that we're engaging where we have to engage for the most part through our digital spaces that are in a binary algorithm zero one and there's so much polarity that's identity politics and and feels like a lot of
shouting and pointing fingers
and i stepped back and i consider are buddhist training and that consider spiritual ecology and allen what you had mentioned about these entered the intervene with earth
do you feel there is a space to bring this understanding and to the current discourse and what first you have four ways of doing that that can be received and heard thank you yeah thank you are complete
lee ah you know yesterday when lori was out shopping she was listening to the radio and she was listening to angela davis and i didn't get here this but angela davis ah completely integrates
ah all of these all these systemic issues that they're all part of one system and i also see other people people of i can think of critique com call and a christian barker and other people war and in more
directly in the buddhist world ah and and others of us who really see this as one issue with you know grabs different expressions are manifestations but it's it's the manifestation of one system and i would hope
that whatever political or social movement we build will have that kind of integrative and when i say we i mean people in this country night not buddhists ah will have that integrative our understanding and that will be able to take leadership
particularly from people of color who who have a very evolved understanding of this ah of this unified system because they experience it that way ah and there's more than i could say about that are but i'd like to suggest
ah i think this is probably okay we need to win we're going to end ah but
i need to use the bathroom briefly i would be willing to come back here at eleven thirty and we can come back i think we can use this link and we'd come back at eleven thirty and if there are people who want to continue to discussion ah weekend will continue to do
discussion ah and i just need that as an as an open auction and then so eleven thirty which fifteen minutes from now and meanwhile turn the closing over back to blake and