It was quite impressive to hear all the causes we will be hearing about over the reading of Time to Stand Up. There were many different issues and concerns – some very new to me. This may seem a little daunting to many of you. How can we explore all these troublesome issues (the ones that break our hearts and keep us up at night) and stay sane? We do it one week at a time. We will travel slowly but deliberately.
I realized that one of the biggest reasons I love about this book comes from the way Thannissara talks. She talks like Black people talk when we are discussing the difficulties of discrimination and racism. We talk about our world situation in stark, bleak and intense terms. At the same time, spiritual practice for our community is life changing. It is how we have been able to live with the constant pressure of oppression while maintaining an ability to laugh, sing and enjoy life. This way of exploring will be new to some of you but trust me, it will be well worth learning if you really want to be engaged with social issues.
I think it is important to put our work in a framework around using the book. The book is less than 200 pages separated into six chapters. We will review one chapter a month which means we will be working with this book until the summer. I hope you will understand we are not going slow – we are moving deliberately and with intention. Basically we will divide each chapter into 4 quarters and work with practice questions raised by Thannissara in each quarter. Technically, we could finish the whole book in a month or two – but would anything really change? Thannissara suggestion that Buddha’s shift in understanding emerged out of a long process seems more realistic to me. Likewise, we need to let our understanding unfold over time.
The first quarter of chapter 1 raises some good points. The four messengers that changed Buddha’s life were not the uplifting splendor of a glorious new day but the bleak, troublesome images of death – messages we would prefer to avoid. What messengers brought you to this path? Does it relate to the heartbreak that keeps you up at night? How can we align our deepest refuge in practice towards our heartbreak? Are you willing to let the pain of your heartbreak shock you out of your complacency and into action?
We will look at these questions and more on Thursday… Tuere