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Start the New Year with Refuge & Resistance

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A misunderstanding of refuge might imply hiding out. Finding a warm, sheltering oasis safe from the mind-melting clusterfuck of daily indignities, unrelenting human cruelty, and civilization’s seemingly imminent collapse. And why wouldn’t we want to hide?

Racism. Sexism. Ableism. Transphobia. Fatphobia. Evictions and houselessness. Police and prisons. Having too many jobs, or not enough of them. Harassment at work or on the street.

Pollution. Debt. Shootings. Imperialism. All manner of state- and non-state violence. And even the self-loathing voices in our own heads, egged on by childhood trauma, airbrushed advertisements, and false models of success, reminding us that we are failing.

As Laurie Penny succinctly puts it, “Much of modern life is traumatic, unbearable, and profoundly frightening.” Systemic oppression is more than enough to make refuge sound like a fantastic idea.

But without solid spiritual grounding, an approach to refuge can lean dangerously toward escapism, or wishing for salvation without a willingness to offer effort in return.

Fortunately, the wisdom of Buddhist lineages and traditions offers a path from suffering to refuge, and back out into compassion.

Mahayana refuge, as well as being a reliance upon the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, is based on compassion which feels as unbearable the sufferings of other sentient beings.

— Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

If the suffering of other beings is unbearable, then some level of resistance to its social causes (a.k.a. oppression, systemic harm, and injustice) would appear to be in order. But resistance, too, is easily misconstrued.

We might picture being angry all the time. We might envision the type of rage that tapeworms its way deep into the bowels of its host, eroding from the inside out.

Resistance might evoke rigid, righteous attitudes — many of which have a funny way of backfiring.

Masculine-of-center comrades mansplaining politics to women and femmes. Callout culture driving bitter rifts and fragmentation. Earnest attempts to honor revolutionary legacies that wind up romanticizing history and glossing over imperfections.

How might we draw on and develop healthier, more liberated forms of resistance? How can contemplative practice help us in this overwhelming yet 100% necessary task?

Even in times of resistance, our work needs to be rooted at the deepest level in Yes. When we move towards what we truly long for, we cannot lose.

— Adrienne Maree Brown

At Buddhist Peace Fellowship we truly long for wisdom, justice, compassion, true peace, and collective liberation. We don’t have all the answers, but we do ask the questions. We’re lucky to draw upon the wisdom of Buddhadharma, and support one another in bringing it to life through action.

Join us as we begin 2017 by exploring these questions and more!

New materials throughout January

Session 1 now available!

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Video, articles, and calls to action — perfect for your personal and group reflection.

Right here at bpf.org, and directly to your inbox when you sign up for our e-newsletter. (Check the sidebar, or bottom menu on a mobile device!)

Live videoconference, free to join

BPF Presents: Refuge & Resistance

Tuesday, January 24th
5:30–7pm PDT // 8:30–10pm EDT

Join by Video (Preferred): https://zoom.us/j/646978571. Choose “join audio by computer.”

Or by Phone: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll); int’l numbers here. Meeting ID: 646 978 571

Save the date! See you there!

Metta & solidarity,

The team at Buddhist Peace Fellowship

 

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Comments (4)

  • Dena

    I can’t adequately express how much I appreciate and adore this post. This is the message I needed today.

    THANK YOU!

  • Katie Loncke

    Dena I’m so happy it’s resonating. Hope to see you throughout the month, and online on 1/24 if you can make it!

  • Andrew Cooper

    Katie, I appreciate this thoughtful and eloquent essay. Thank you for writing it.

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