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Warm Hand to Warm Hand

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Santa Fe Winter

Happy Bodhi Day to everyone!

Back online again after 7 days of keeping the computer off during Rohatsu. Okay, full disclosure: this was not Rohatsu sesshin the way you Zen folks know it. I did a modified home-based version of sesshin, in order to be more available to my doggie who had an operation the week before.

But I didn’t turn on the computer, didn’t drive the car, practiced zazen at home and sometimes next door at Upaya Zen Center, and helped make several meals in the Upaya kitchen for everyone who was sitting Rohatsu there. Last night, a snowstorm blanketed Santa Fe; it’s wonderful to wake up on the last morning of Rohatsu and see fresh snow everywhere.

Even doing Rohatsu this way, I could feel my practice settle into some deeper places, and was reminded of how spacious life can feel when ‘unplugged.’ I definitely have an addiction to information and knowledge (not the same thing as wisdom!), and this past week was a reminder that I can get seduced into thinking that I’m connecting and engaging with people through all my online activities. But there is a very different quality to connection and engagement when they happen warm hand to warm hand.

I’m no Luddite, and I appreciate the many ways that the Internet has expanded my web of connections and made me aware of what’s going on in many corners of the world and given opportunities to respond. Take, for example, the Saffron Revolution in Burma two years ago — something we only knew about because of the courageous people inside Burma who were able to get out photos and communications via the Internet.

But at the moment, I’m aware of how easy it is for me to get lulled into thinking of the Internet as my sole channel for activism, and how much more balanced and enriching it would be to get engaged more with local issues, with real live people, on a daily basis.

I’m curious how those of you who are online a lot find ways to balance this out in your lives…

About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

5 responses »

  1. I go back and forth with my desire for more information. I have stopped reading the New York Times but I read the Economist. I watch the newshour but frequently feel overloaded and turn it off early after I have seen what was coming. I can’t watch Democracy Now, too intense.

    So I do struggle with it all. I keep thinking that I can’t help unless I know what is going on.

    It’s hardest to figure out what is going on in my own community since our newspapers are not so good. I think I am getting old.

  2. Here’s a good one – I let my home internet plan run out, and haven’t gotten another one yet. So, I have to go out to go online.

    Instead of staying up late surfing various political and/or spiritual sites, or playing around on social network sites like Facebook, I do more meditation practice before bed, or quiet reading, or simply relaxing. The extra energy I have during the day has allowed me to do a little more in the community and, when there’s been nothing specific I’m working on in terms of “activism,” that extra bit of energy allows me to just be kinder, and to know when to slow down and just be friendly to the people that enter in my life. (Sometimes, I’m still a cranky mess – but maybe a bit less than in the past.)

  3. Kathy and Nathan, thanks for your comments. Yes, trying to figure out how to stay in touch with what’s going on in the world without feeling overwhelmed by it is a challenge. I think what my past week reminded me, and what Nathan’s comment points to, is that there is something about receiving that information in a more personal way — hearing the story of the homeless guy who hangs out at the bus stop, or the woman next to me in the checkout line at the grocery store — that is ultimately more fulfilling and in some ways more informative about the state of the world. Nathan, I love what you say about simply practicing being kinder and slowing down. That seems like the most powerful kind of peacework of all.

  4. Hi Maia!

    I didn’t realize this was you… I so missed Rohatsu with all at Upaya… had great intentions but no schedule flex. Really looking forward to seeing you all at Zen Brain! Thanks for putting me on the blogroll… I’ve done the same!

    Lynette Genju

  5. Hey Lynette Genju!

    Nice to find you here, and thanks for adding my blog to yours as well. We’ll see you here in Santa Fe in January!

    Maia Zenyu


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