By Rebecca Bradshaw, IPV Guiding Teacher
Those of us who are on the front lines of activism related to climate and social justice (or even those who are just paying attention to the immense amount of suffering happening in our world) need to find a way that we can stay engaged and yet not get overwhelmed with the scope of suffering we encounter day after day. The Buddhist teachings of the Brahmaviharas, or Heavenly Homes, offers a way for the heart to navigate compassion in the face of ongoing moral injuries that we experience by being on the front lines. They offer a sane and balanced way to keep the heart open.
A number of years ago I worked for many years in community mental health in the inner-city. At first I was overwhelmed by the amount of suffering, trauma, and oppression that I engaged with. By consciously engaging with the Brahmaviharas, I learned to care, stay connected, and avoid getting overwhelmed. We can all find that even in situations with lots of suffering, we can develop flexibility in what the heart notices, keeping the heart joyous and spacious. During this three week class, we will practice together and support each other to care for this planet and all who live on her with openness and genuine connection.
Register now for Buddhist Heart Practices for Climate and Social Justice Activists beginning October 1.
By Manny Mansbach
We humans tend to seek certain kinds of pseudo-refuge in the familiar, focusing on landing in a place that is known, seems safe and secure. We can become off-balance, disoriented, anxious, even afraid while waiting for what we think will be easier, until the employer calls with the job offer or the weather turns more to our liking, or we reach a new understanding with someone we’ve been in conflict with. There is value, we tell ourselves, in sailing in open, unprotected waters, but often we find ourselves longing for the refuge of the harbor.
There’s nothing at all wrong with returning to the safe harbor of the known, but when we have difficulty finding ease in the gaps between our comfort zones there can be wide swaths of life that become uncomfortable. Depending on how we relate to these “in-between” places, we may be mildly, moderately or severely vexed. If the distress is habitual, socially embarrassing, strongly identified with or reinforces a negative self-esteem loop, then it can become quite limiting or even debilitating.
Finding ease and freedom in these “in-between” places can be some of the most difficult and most important work of our practice. This talk will offer some direction for how we can “mind the gap” and struggle less when we are asked by life to swim in deeper water than we like or are accustomed to.
Join Manny and other sangha members for a sitting at 7:00pm and talk at 7:35pm.
Blog posts are written by various IPV and guest teachers. Biographies can be found on the Teachers page.