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Occupying the Present Moment

Occupying the Present Moment: Why BPF Supports the Occupy Movement

by Buddhist Peace Fellowship Staff – Sarah Weintraub, Jacks McNamara, and Dawn Haney

 with help from: Mushim Ikeda-Nash, Maia Duerr, Roshi Joan Halifax, and Chris Wilson

  1. Interconnection.  We are moved by the interconnectedness expressed in this movement.  Occupy Wall Street is not about one environmental situation or one war, but rather about all of the systems which create suffering for all beings, and which are all related to each other.  Our spiritual practice is not just for our individual enlightenment, but to end suffering for all beings, so we are moved to address this system.
  2. Ending suffering means changing the conditions of inequality. The influence of money, corporations, and banks in our U.S. political system blocks all of the human and environmental goals that BPF works towards.  Numerous Buddhist texts point out that if an individual lives in poverty it is not due to karma as a form of personal punishment, but rather that poverty exists within a web of collective causes and conditions. The Buddha also noted that the way to build a peaceful society is to ensure equitable distribution of resources.  Many U.S. Buddhists believe in the importance of cultivating a limitless heart that embraces the goal of a society in which everyone has their basic needs met, plus education, a living wage, and the opportunity to care for their families and to develop spiritually.
  3. The means are the ends.  We are moved by and in agreement with the nonviolent tactics of the movement.  We believe in the power of compassionate presence, of bearing witness, and of nonviolent strategies toward spiritual awakening and liberation. The people on the streets in New York, and around the country and world, are in the process of being the change they wish to see, to use Gandhi’s phrase.
  4. We participate in solidarity with the 100%—with all beings.  While we want to change the situation of disparity in world, we don’t want to exile the 1% from our hearts.  Furthermore, we are aware that lumping people together, whether into the 99% or the 100%, can invisibilize people’s experiences, especially those of people of color, and the many others who bear the heaviest burdens of inequality in the U.S. and in the world.  While we are all interconnected, we are not all the same.  With this recognition of diversity, we stand in solidarity with the 100%.

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