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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
54 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 1 6 MuShIM PatrICIa IKeDa is a social activist and teacher at east Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California. She also works as a diversity and inclusion consultant. absorb the blame. They vow to return, lifetime after lifetime, until the great work is fully accomplished, and until that probably distant time they remain upbeat, serene, and self-sacrificing. I love this section from the poem “Bodhisattva Vows” by Albert Saijo: ...YOU’RE SPENDING ALL YOUR TIME & ENERGY GETTING OTHER PEOPLE OFF THE SINKING SHIP INTO LIFEBOATS BOUND GAILY FOR NIRVANA WHILE THERE YOU ARE SINKING — & OF COURSE YOU HAD TO GO & GIVE YOUR LIFEJACKET AWAY — SO NOW LET US BE CHEERFUL AS WE SINK — OUR SPIRIT EVER BUOYANT AS WE SINK This poem never fails to give me a refreshing laugh; the archetype of bodhisattva activity it presents res- onates with my early Buddhist training. But I have changed. In the social justice activist circles I travel in, giving your lifejacket away and going down with the sinking ship is now understood as a well- intentioned but mistaken old-school gesture—right now, the sinking ship is our entire planet, and there are no lifeboats. As the people with disabilities in my sangha have said, in order to practice universal access there needs to be a radical shift toward an embodied practice of “All of us or none of us.” In other words, no one can be left behind on the sink- ing ship, not even those who want to self-martyr. Why? Because self-martyrdom is bad role model- ing. Burnout and self-sacrifice, the paradigm of the lone hero who takes nothing for herself and gives everything to others, injure all of us who are trying to bring the dharma into everyday lay life through communities of transformative well-being, where the exchange of self for other is re-envisioned as the care of self in service to the community. The longer we live, the healthier we are; the happier we feel, the more we can gain the experience and wisdom needed to contribute toward a collective reimagin- ing of relationships, education, work, and play. Here in Oakland, I don’t think it’s melodramatic or inaccurate to say that we now live in the midst of multiple ongoing crises. Thich Nhat Hanh has said that the future Buddha, Maitreya, may be a com- munity, not an individual. Perhaps your community, like mine, is in need of inventive ways to carve out spaces for what some are now calling “radical rest.” I advocate for more forgiving and spacious schedules of spiritual practice that value being well-rested and that move toward honoring the body–mind’s need for enough sleep and downtime. Social justice activist Angela Davis, in an interview in YES! Magazine, says: I think our notions of what counts as radical have changed over time. Self-care and healing and atten- tion to the body and the spiritual dimension—all of this is now a part of radical social justice struggles. That wasn’t the case before. And I think that now we’re thinking deeply about the connection between interior life and what happens in the social world. Even those who are fighting against state violence often incorporate impulses that are based on state violence in their relations with other people. Healing. Rest. Self-care. Restorative justice. Restor- ative yoga. Trauma-informed dynamic mindfulness. Compassion. Love. Community healing. These are words I hear every day within spiritual activ- ist forums, from “scholartivists” and from people embodying the bodhisattva vow to save all beings. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fellow organizers sometimes planned protests to occur at around eleven in the morning, because then the people who were arrested would get lunch in jail and wouldn’t have to wait many hours to eat. For pamelaybañeZ (Opposite) Infographic by Mushim Patricia Ikeda from a class titled “Right Mindfulness, Concentration, Effort, and Social Justice”