“As long as a society meets in harmony and treats its members with respect will it prosper and not decline. As long as a society follows the wisdom of its elders, protects its vulnerable members such as women and children, as long as a society cares for the environment, will it prosper and not decline.” —Buddha
We have just passed our July 4th Independence Day celebrations. And while there is historical cause for celebration, there is also a great deal of anxiety across the U.S., in people of all political perspectives. Many are affected by the rising tide of divisiveness, polarization, hate speech, fake news and the incidents of terrorism and violence on many sides that are highlighted in the news. Politics and news are often designed to scare us, to grab our attention and unnerve us. Yet we know a wiser way exists.
What matters in times like these is to not let the outer terrorism and conflict terrorize our heart. In difficult times, our task is to learn to quiet our mind, tend our heart, and stand up for what matters most. We can embody the peace, courage, and wisdom that is so needed in our times.
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh explains, “When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat stayed calm and steady, it was enough. They showed the way for everyone to survive.”
Human beings inevitably go through hard times, personally and collectively. This is the nature of human incarnation. We have come to a period of difficulties across our society and our world. Climate change, economic injustice, refugees, continuing racism, divisiveness and war.
We have been through hard times before. Now it is time to be the ones on the boat who are calm and steady. Each time we do so, we support the best of humanity and move us all in the right direction.
The beautiful thing is that to help us there are powerful practices to release anxiety and worry, to quiet the mind and tend the heart. At the Garrison Institute retreat on Labor Day Weekend, we will learn these practices. We will use them to renew ourselves, reconnect with our deep intentions, and join with a caring community of Spirit. Then we will each discover our way to carry this wisdom and courage into a world that so needs it.
Please join us on August 31 to September 3, 2018 for a healing and visionary retreat.
Jack Kornfield is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology and is a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He is the best-selling author of many books, including After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, and Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are.
To register for the upcoming Labor Day Weekend retreat led by Jack Kornfield, please click here.
Photo by Robert Crawford on Unsplash.