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Where is the Love? (aka: Meet Me in Arizona)

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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.


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.

4 responses »

  1. Hi Maia, as synchronicity would have it… I just returned from the UU General Assembly today! I was marching as UU clergy with the Standing on the Side of Love folks at the Gay Pride parade in Minneapolis yesterday! There was a call at the “GA” for the UU gang to go to Arizona on the 29th and I thought “Darn! I’ll be at Zen Brain…but I wonder if any of those folks might go…” and then I got your e-mail. So I’m wondering, how far from Upaya is this and can I duck out and go with you for the day and get back to Upaya to continue Zen Brain?? Also, I don’t know if this is significant info or not, but I’m coming to Santa Fe on the 26th to hang out with Shari (my mentor group sister) for a couple of days pre-program.
    I would love to show up in my dual roles as UU and Buddhist chaplain…AND James Ford is a friend and ex-minister of my very own…in how many ways am I being pointed in this direction??? I feel like I must go!

    thanks for the suggestion…now what?
    Holly H.

  2. Pingback: Quote of the Week: Rev James Myoun Ford « The Jizo Chronicles

  3. Pingback: Updates on Gulf Coast and Arizona « The Jizo Chronicles

  4. Pingback: July 29: Buddhist Love Delegation in New Mexico (and a lot of background story) « The Jizo Chronicles

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