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Dharma Teacher MLK

Over the last fifteen years I have studied Martin Luther King Jr. — reading his sermons and speeches, examining his actions and strategies, and mourning his loss. We need him now more than ever. As much as any person of the 20th Century, he has been a dharma teacher for me.

I’m not talking about the King of postage stamps, sound bites, and carefully edited dreams.  In the forty-odd years since his assassination in Memphis, the man’s essence has been homogenized — broken into bits, and blended into a bland and unthreatening image soup that helps image-makers preserve America’s self-congratulatory illusion of tolerance.  (An aside: this U.S. postage stamp business is really strange. Along with the MLK Jr. stamp in 1976, there are other USPS issues featuring Black revolutionaries: W.E. B. DuBois (1992), Malcolm X (1999), Paul Robeson (2004) and others.  Men who were hounded by the government for decades because of their radical beliefs. What would they have thought of this phenomenon? I don’t think it is hard to guess.)

The essence of Buddhism is “the three treasures”— BuddhaDharma, and Sangha.  We can understand Buddha as our own enlightened nature.  Dharma is thought of as “the teachings,” and these teachings are essentially a description of how things really are. Sangha is the circle of practitioners or the community of all sentient beings.   Using these definitions, the dharma of Martin Luther King shines forth.

—Hozan Alan Senauke, “Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King

Image by Express Newspapers Staff / Getty Images

Martin Luther King Jr. removing a burning cross from his front yard, with his young son beside him. Atlanta, Georgia, 1960. Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection, LC-USZ62-126560

 Image by Donald Uhrbrock//Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

Image by New York Times Co. / Getty Images

More great images and quotations over at BuzzFeed.  Enjoy, and happy MLK Day, BPFers!

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