The Time is Now
Buddhist teachings are filled with the principles of respect, tolerance, and compassion. When community members were sick, the Buddha told his followers to care for them as they would care for the Buddha himself. When those in grief and those who were afraid came to see the Blessed One, he welcomed them all without exception.
It is this compassionate and generous spirit that has sustained the Buddha Dharma for 2600 years. It is also, as the Buddha taught in a number of sutras, the basis for a wise, healthy, and prosperous society. These principles have also been part of the finest of American culture. At our best, we have welcomed immigrants, collectively cared for the vulnerable, respected human rights, and promoted tolerance.
Whatever your political perspective, the Dharma encourages a life of compassion, mutual respect, virtue and protection for all.
Unfortunately, with the order to ban anyone from seven Muslim countries (none of whose residents are the source of any terror attacks in the U.S.), we have turned our back on these principles. We have divided families, stranded women and children who make up the bulk of refugees, and shown the world a fearful, prejudiced, and closed-hearted America. This is not who we are.
Yesterday, with my daughter Caroline, I joined thousands of protesters at the San Francisco airport to stand for humane immigration and for the release of detainees. She is an asylum and immigration attorney who joined up with a cadre of lawyers offering to help passengers and families in need.
Among the wildly diverse crowd were many Dharma practitioners. And just as mayors, senators, and governors joined protests at airports across the country, we were joined by judges and community leaders from across San Francisco. The protest was strong, but peaceful and respectful.
There is a fundamental nobility and dignity to all human beings. In your own way, your practice is to find this nobility and freedom in yourself, and honor it in others. When fear and untruth guide us individually or collectively, they lead to suffering for all. The Dharma offers another, wiser way to live.
Now is the time to practice, to steady your mind and open your heart. Then listen to your deepest values and find your own unique way to embody and stand for them. The world needs your wisdom and care, your compassion, your clarity and courage.
May you live a life of inner peace, wisdom, and love, and bring your Metta to all.