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Quote of the Week: Melody Ermachild Chavis

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Melody Ermachild Chavis is a writer,  private investigator, and longtime Zen practitioner at Berkeley Zen Center. You can read more about Melody here from a previous Jizo “Quote of the Week.”

This quote comes from the essay “Seeking Evil, Finding Only Good,” from Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism (edited by Susan Moon):

Many death penalty proponents believe that evil infects people like my clients, who must therefore be extinguished…

For twenty years I have searched for evil, and nowhere have I found it. I find causes and conditions aplenty, and I have found something that I wasn’t looking for: inexhaustible quantities of love.

Suddenly, in every case — and it is always a surprise — I find someone giving love against all odds, someone reaching out where it seems nothing but hatred prevails, someone finding it in themselves to forgive against storms of bitter anger. These are often unexpected people, unsung heroes and heroines who want no thanks: a man’s long-ago juvenile hall counselor who comes to testify; a former special education teacher, retired with a bad heart, who flies on three airplanes to get to the trial to ask jurors to spare her former student’s life.

Love, I have seen, is a force alive in the world.

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.

One response »

  1. What a beautiful quote, and reminder to us all. I often think, “It’s amazing how “well” things actually work in this world.” It’s so easy to find problems and faults with how we live and how badly we treat each other and the planet. But on the other hand, just think, millions and millions of people live in crowded cities, side by side with each other, in relative harmony, there is water, food, electricity, paved roads, you get the idea, and it all “works”. That to me is a sign of human intelligence, wisdom, and yes, love.


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