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Teacher's Greetings - January 2009

“Between aspiration,
practice, enlightenment, and nirvana
there is not a moment’s gap;
Continuous practice is the circle of the way.
This being so, continuous practice is unstained,
not forced by you or others.
The power of this continuous practice confirms you as well as others.
It means your practice affects the entire earth
and the entire sky in the ten directions.
Although not noticed by others or yourself, it is so.”
Dogen Zenji

Dear Travelers on the Path

Tomorrow, January 20, all the American people and with them the whole world will be witnessing a monumental historical event

The Inauguration of the First African American – Barack Obama – as the 44th President of the United States.

An event, unlike others, that since it’s beginning two years ago continues to deeply engage and inspire people of all walks of life, transcending barriers of age, culture, nation and race.

Each of us carries in the marrow of our bones and in the depth of our hearts a knowledge of the fundamental truth that we are inextricably interconnected; interconnected and interdependent with every human being on this planet, every animal, every plant, every drop of water, with the entire earth, the vast sky, the whole Universe. We all know, beyond what we may allow into our everyday consciousness, that there is no possibility of true freedom, peace, well-being and prosperity unless they are shared with all.

We are inspired because an African American becoming the next president of the United States is proof of the possibility of transformation. The transformation from - a Union of States that on July 4, 1776 unanimously professed to a creed of freedom, prosperity and equality for all men, while, at the same time, building it’s existence on the grounds of slavery, limiting the definition of men to being white men and in doing so disenfranchising and dehumanizing African people predominantely, but ultimately all people of color - to a Union of States that 233 years later, after a land mark vote, is giving an African American the trust and the power to lead it’s fate and destiny.

We are also inspired because Barack Obama, who - throughout the presidential campaign and to this day - is expressing in his words and demonstrating through his imperturbable demeanor and equanimity , a deep, wholehearted and sustained commitment to a set of principles that are based on an experiential understanding of interdependence and the intentions and actions that follow such understanding; principles that we also find in Buddhist Philosophy and Buddhist practice:

interdependence “… I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to, – it belongs to you… I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you to join in the remaking or this nation… our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared … the true strength… comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals… let us summon a new spirit of … service and responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other… we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.”

All-Inclusiveness – quoting from his election night speech “… the answer, spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – sending a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America”

An open, inquiring mind and radical respect– “… to those American whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too…”

The willingness to sit down with ‘enemies’ to start a conversation without pre-conditions which is a prerequisite for a space to be created in which new, truly shared and all-inclusive, peace-promoting and sustainable solutions can arise.

Appreciation, for all life and the many ways people give service to help others and to protect the country.

Honesty “… even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime … I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face… The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but… I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we… as a people will get there. This is our time… to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace… to reaffirm that fundamental truth, that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can.”

We, at the end of our meditation in San Rafael say every week,
“Yes We will”
save all beings
end all delusions
enter all dharma gates
manifest the Buddha way.

How do we do that?

We do it, amongst innumerable ways, by making a continuous effort of conducting our daily life activities informed and shaped by the fundamental understanding that there is no possibility of true freedom, peace, well-being and prosperity unless they are available to all. We do it by being generous and sharing our resources. We do it by being mindful of body speech and mind. We do it by appreciating that we are alive and by not taking for granted all we have. We do it by remembering our intentions over and over again.

We do it by wondering and inquiring how it is, that every single one of our actions affects the whole earth and the entire sky in the ten directions as Dogen is telling us.

Given this understanding we cannot just delegate the tasks to the new president and sit back, letting him do the job. But rather we are reminded and called upon to put into action our practice and understanding, to find ways to participate and support this endeavor of changing the world we live in. According to these teachings the sum of all our actions will be shaping the possibilities, the successes and difficulties Barack Obama will encounter as president and they will also be defining the resources that will be available to him.

We can do it by responding to the new presidents call?

“ …above all, I will ask you to join in the remaking of this nation... our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared … let us summon a new spirit of … service and responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other… I need your help … we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.”

Yes we can, we will, as citizens and students of the way take responsibility for our actions. Let us listen to our own knowledge, experience and wisdom in order to step into this moment of history and take right action... each finding our own way to work in the givens of our lives and/or together with our government representatives to heal our country and benefit the whole world.

With nine bows of deep appreciation for Your practice

Kiku Christina Lehnherr

   ©2013 Mountain Source Sangha