To my knowledge (which is limited), the word “love” doesn’t show up very often in Buddhist suttas and teachings, at least not in the way you see it over and over again in the teachings of Jesus. Which may be why people get the impression that Buddhism is primarily a cerebral exercise. The prevalent use of the word “mindfulness” just reinforces that notion. I was recently at a meeting where someone suggested that a better word might be “heartful-ness” – because what’s really happening if we practice deeply is that our heart awakens and we respond to the world from that place.
(A semantic note: Part of the problem here is a cultural/linguistic one. Western modes of thought and language tend to reify dualism. As you may know, the Chinese word shin [xin] means “heart-mind.” There’s a wonderful article by Shohaku Okumura on this word and its Japanese parallel kokoro here on the Buddhadharma website.)
Which brings me to Arizona.
Arizona needs a lot of love right now. Over the past few months, the state has passed a couple of bills that make it pretty difficult to be a Latino/a living in that state and not feel that you are despised and unwanted. First came SB 1070. Less than a month later, the governor signed another bill that limited the teaching of ethnic studies classes in public schools. And on top of that, the state’s education department started to mandate re-assignments of teachers who it was deemed didn’t speak English well enough or who had an accent. (See how some Stanford University professors responded to this.)
A number of people are responding by organizing a Summer of Human Rights in Arizona. One of my favorites is the “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign from the Unitarian Universalists. One of those UUs is also a Zen priest – James Ishmael Ford. Danny Fisher did a great interview with Ford which you can read here.
So how about it, dharma sisters and brothers – who would like to join me in a Summer of Love in Arizona? Let’s practice the dharma in a big-hearted way. Since I’m in New Mexico and Arizona is my neighbor, I’m thinking of going to Phoenix on July 29 for a Day of Non-Compliance (the day SB 1070 goes into effect). Perhaps we can get a Buddhist Love Delegation organized, similar to what a number of us did in Washington D.C. in 2005 and 2007 (see photos here and this past Jizo Chronicles post).
We’ve got one month. Anybody else interested? Let me know and let’s see what we can cook up.
And by the way – I’m also following up to find out more about the potential Buddhist group that’s going to the Gulf states to respond to the oil spill. I’ll be writing again soon with details on that.