2022-01-16-Love in Action Inspired by MLK
7:23PM Jan 16, 2022
martin luther king
Warm greetings on this Sunday. And this is the weekend that here in United States we celebrate Martin Luther King. And I love this holiday. Because it's the holiday that I associate most closely with love. Martin Luther King based his life on a love that was inclusive. That was not compromised for the conflicts he was in, but sought to stay present with love in these conflicts, to search for cooperation, to search for a mutual kind regard. And this dedication to love which was at the foundation of his life, can be celebrated on this day. I'd like to celebrate more than his great accomplishments like with civil rights and voting rights. That were really the outcome of his dedication to love.
The I suppose, the other holidays that United States celebrates, we could infuse them with love, Labor Day, our love and care and good goodwill and gratitude for the people who work and all the different ways in which sustain our lives. Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Maybe it can be evoke a certain kind of love that maybe even love for enemies in conflict, and the dedication of people's lives to protect what they love and so, so forth. Maybe it's possible to infuse everything with love that that had to be the foundation. And of course, it's very common for us to say, but But what about, what if not that? How can I do it for that? Can I love that. And Martin Luther King's message, I believe, is that if you don't love you harm yourself. Certainly he said that hate harms the hater. And so he was dedicated to not hate and perhaps against tremendous challenges. He dedicated himself to love. And that's inspiring. What's possible. Martin Luther King was inspired in turn by Mahatma Gandhi. And he said that one of the Gandhi his great contribution was to show how love can be evoked for social action. That love can be evoked for civil rights for freedom for overcoming oppression, government oppression, national oppression of all kinds. And, and so pardon me, the king kind of took that message from Gandhi and dedicated his life to, to love the force of love, the power of love. The that said that he was first inspired to non violence by Henry Thoreau, who had an essay on disobedience and a civil disobedience. And, and from Thoreau, he learned he comes inspired, that you could stand up against the government against the state with a non violent ways. And, and, and so he and he spent a lot of time studying this and thinking about non violence and, and college and graduate school and seminary and was influenced was who he was pretty big reader of the philosophy of non violence and social change. And he caught him more and more centered in this idea of non violence. But when he was introduced to Mahatma Gandhi, that's where he understood that this dedication to nonviolent change. could be centered on love. And he was dedicated to an all inclusive love that the no one no one was left out. And
he wrote, he said four Oh, he dedicated himself for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation, and all embracing an unconditional love for everyone. And so is this possible? Is it interesting? Is it valuable? Is it valuable enough that we can dedicate ourselves to it, perhaps on this holiday, at least for this one, to emphasize love. This weekend, I read a short story that was came out of Thailand published in a News Journal news site there. Have a in Bangkok, they have these neighborhoods, small corner stores that are money exchangers, money, places to transfer money and send money to. And Thais will use it to send money to their relatives in the countryside from Bangkok. And for a long time, there was a woman who came once a month ended the month, and which send 20,000 baht 20,000 The currency of Thailand to relatives in the countryside. And there was no real discussion about it just better effect turns transaction. But one day she came. And she wanted to try and serve 15,000 instead of 20. And so the owner of the shop asked her you know what's happening? And she said, Well, I think times are difficult. And I this is all I can do. And and and she said he asked her well, I'm sorry to hear that. And somehow in the conversation, he learned that even when she said 20,000 baht to her son so you can go to school in the countryside and her sister take care of their elderly parents and that she had very little money for herself. And it seemed like she worked a little bit that is my Seuss and little bit overlapped with the sex industry there and something that she really detested doing but felt that she had to. And so the next time she came back next month, she came with 20,000 baht and wanted her to have a center sent the countryside. And so he took the money and did a money transfer. And she returned a while later and said there's been a mistake. You didn't transfer 20,000 baht, you transferred 200,000 baht. And he said to her, it was no mistake. I thought I were trying to support you and help you and work your life that's so challenging for you. She cried and thanked him. And then some months later, she didn't come back anymore to transfer money. But then he got a Facebook message from her that she had opened a noodle shop back in her home village a hometown and that it was already thriving. People loved her noodles and food. And she taken that money and started a business and gotten out of the massage trade and was now running a business that maybe was sustaining or more than her massage trade could do. And she thanked him deeply. The title of this article that I read was love without action is a four letter word. So that was kind of powerful. Title. I thought that's why I read the articles here. What are they going to say here? Love without action is a four lever letter word. There's a bunch of Buddhist teachers. A few who started the nonprofit that's called metta in action. samatha has a word for love or loving kindness to loving kindness and action and they raise money to support mostly like schools and medical facilities in Burma. And they've built school houses and supported teachers to teach in the schools. And and that's kind of been their admission for many years now. So love and action. Is without action is love, love. What is love without action And what is it to act on love and live with love? And and certainly we find in Buddhism, a lot of emphasis on the value of love
and kindness and goodwill, and we are kind of the opening, kind of, you know, if Buddhism has a, you know, sacred body of texts, technically, it has no official opening passages, but because of the fame of the Dhammapada, this book of verses, sometimes seen as the opening kind of teachings of Buddhism, early Buddhism, and that text begins in the first chapter, with not the very first two verses, but the third verse, quoting someone who's exclaiming, He abused me, attacked me, defeated me, robbed me. And then, for those carrying ill wills, such as this hatred does not end. For those who say, she abused me, attacked me, defeated me, robbed me. For those caring, Ill wills such as this, for those not caring, ill will, such as this hatred ends. So when hatred takes the form of attacking and criticizing other people and being angry with them, and in a mean, spirited way, hatred doesn't end. Hatred never ends through hatred, by love alone, does it end. This is the eternal truth. The literal meaning is, by non hatred alone, does it end. This is eternal truth. But it's often understood that it's the word not hatred means love in this context. And then there's a very interesting next verse, and maybe this is kind of punctuates this. Many do not realize, we here must die. For those who realized this quarrels and so there's something about realizing that our life is limited on this planet, that maybe we don't want to waste time wasting it with hatred, wasting it with greed, wasting yet with closing in on ourselves are closing in tight on one particular clan, one particular tribe or race, but rather, to have some love, that's all embracing. So Martin Luther King was this way. And he's, I think, I think he's most famous for the work he did for civil rights. And the need for it was so great in his time, when he grew up, as a young man in the South. He saw tremendous injustice happening, injustice and voting and justice in the courts and justice by the police and justice by the society around him, that his African American neighbors, and friends and, and struggle under. And so he wanted to change that didn't work for that. And, and so he's famous for his civil rights work. And it was phenomenal. What had what happened in among the civil rights people that he was part one of the leaders for, in terms of changing a whole country where they did not give up their non violent education. Under the onslaught of violence. And youth, I think most of you have maybe seen some of the videos of the tremendous violence that was done in Montgomery and against children, and teenagers and high school students. And the violence in the bridge in Selma, where a lot of the civil rights leaders and others were brutally attacked by the police, people who were killed and shot and lynched, coming to the south to try to make a difference. And even in these horrendous conditions, Martin Luther King refused to give up love. It's hard to believe that anyone could do this. But this is a message that he said all religions taught. And for him, he was just trying to live out the message of love that he received or he found In the teachings of Jesus and Christianity, and he made, I think, a very powerful statement about,
about love and from a Christian point of view, he said at one point, let us love one another. Love is God. Love is God. So, to not worship love to, not to, to destroy love, you know for him is kind of a destruction of God. The he also wrote, When I speak of love, I'm not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I'm speaking of that force, which all the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. All great religions has have seen as a supreme, unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door, which leads to ultimate reality. So his love at the heart of Buddhism, love and action in Buddhism is, is described by the word anukampa, a quivering of the heart, vibrance, vibrancy of the heart that is translated to action and care and kindness and support of others. The Buddha dedicated his life to this anukampa I think was the organizing principle for his life. He was dedicated to metta to loving kindness. And when people came to him with to attack him, both verbally with anger and hostility and, and in one story where we came with hostility to actually actually try to kill him. His response was to radiate the power of His love his power of His metta towards the people and to the in one case, an animal that was coming to kill him an elephant. And the story say that his power of love was enough to stop the attacks that he was receiving. Is it realistic to do that, and then the threat of violence? The Buddha made a tremendously powerful statement about this, that it's easy to dismiss because it's so maybe it's hyperbole. Maybe it is so unrealistic that how could we ever make this true? But it's, uh, you know, Martin Luther King says that love is the unifying principle of life, and his dedication to love. And so, the Buddha said, that even if bandits come and capture you, and start cutting off your arms, do not succumb to love, but radiate your kindness to them. And I think we have to understand this story. This this instruction from the Buddha partly is hyperbole, if not all cases, but I think also literally, because the the Buddha's are coming to love was such a bad thing to do for oneself, is one of the worst things we can do in terms of harming ourselves, to succumb to love. Someone who really understands and sees the self harm from hate. Understand, never give up love, always, always work hard not to succumb to hate. And, and it's not a message to not defend yourself. I think the conditions for this powerful statement is if you have no other choice, and you have can't escape because the Buddha said that if if he did condone, not actually acts of violence, maybe not, but acts of self defense, to escape from the harm others are doing to us. And he said that a monastic can monk can strike out to defend themselves for the purpose of escaping, provided they do it without any hate, provided they can do it with goodwill, towards the people they're escaping from. So I think what's striking back then, though, you know,
what striking out meant maybe to lift up your hand and block a block of blow or push someone away. There's an example of someone who protected their own life by pushing someone off a cliff. From the time that the Buddha and the Buddha kind of understood that matter of factly, that that was somehow not an act of hatred or an act of self defense. So how far this idea of self defense goes and how far we can go in our lives to do it, that kind of act. The Buddha was not just saying, Stay, you know, passive and allow yourself to be, you know, taken advantage of, and that there's nowhere in the Buddha that he says that, you know, somehow just accept the violence being done to you. If anything, my interpretation of the Buddha, is that you should always look, I'll still Liddy in the eye, be strong and forceful, and look it in the eye and don't, don't, don't, you know, kind of says, Hold your ground, even if you have to step away and walk away. But there's no idea that you're supposed to cow or be less than or be somehow meek. In Buddhism. That example, the Buddha is one that kind of the way he's talked about in the with language of the texts, is a language of power, strength, sometimes modern people and they read some of the, this language of power and strength in Buddhism, interpreted as being kind of certain kind of a macho ism, or a certain kind of over emphasis on strength. But I think it's when I read the text, I interpreted this to be the nice combination of love with strength and love, strength with love, and this dedication. And so that's what Martin Luther King says in this quote, I'm not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I'm speaking of that force. The force of unifying love. I see the chat Are you Miss speaking about love and hate? And Mike what I said, I think, yeah, I got a little bit jumbled in my love and hate. I don't remember well enough to come back and correct it. So if you listen, hopefully, you understood my jumble. The
so here's a quote from what I was saying, from Gandhi, from Martin Luther King of what I was saying about Gandhi. Gandhi was probably the first person in history to live the love ethic of Jesus, above more interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. Love For Gandhi was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and non violence. That is, I discovered the method for social reform that I have been asking. When my first Zen teachers said that the Buddha's contribution contribution to humanity was the importance of meditating Gandhi's contribution to humanity, what's important to decide where you're going to meditate? And I think what he had in mind was these nonviolent protests that were you marched where you stood, where you're sat, you can sit in such a way that you're there, to offer a counter to offer an alternative to oppression to violence, that exists in this world. And so they had in this in the south, and then 1960s 50s and 60s, these citizens. And, you know, us Buddha's will often call meditation sitting, I'm going to sit and, and so where do we sit, and the possibility of citizens as non violent protests. We've seen this over and over again. And, you know, it's easy to say they don't work. But I think the genius of, of Gandhi, and perhaps a Martin Luther King, was to not do this naively. But to really choose very carefully, where we show up to sit to walk to march to the actions of non violence, to have to relate, change the other people and to search for cooperation, to not live a life of competition, but one of cooperation to seed seek to change the heart of the other. Not by force. One of the important parts of Martin Luther King's life was that he realized at some point that The Civil Rights Movement as important as it was, and voting rights, important as it was, was not enough to liberate the African American population in this country because of the tremendous poverty that existed. And, and so he became the champion, anti poverty champion, he saw that the to the civil rights for African Americans and for all people were intimately connected to economic change into a improved economic position of African Americans in this country. And he worked with him in conversation with Martin Luther King, with President Lyndon Johnson around this, and Lyndon Johnson began this great movement to eradicate poverty in this country. But then Martin Luther King saw what happened when President Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam, that the money for working doing poverty programs in the country was taken away from the those programs and use to to fuel the pay for the American war in Vietnam. And so Martin Luther King started to see all these three as being unified, necessary to be addressed. Civil rights, poverty, and militarism, war, and he became an anti Vietnam, he started actively fighting against the Vietnam War, actually supporting anti poverty programs and fighting for working for that, and civil rights. And he lost a lot of his popularity because of this. He was seen as some even by many of the people who supported him earlier, as somehow becoming an enemy of the state in a way hadn't before of the country. But he saw these as being unified as being connected. And he talked about the importance of wrist arrest restitution for African Americans. He said, we're not talking about getting them paid.
back all the money that they deserved from all their work, they didn't slavery, but there has to be enough focus and some financial support to bring them out of poverty as to repair the damages of slavery. But the interesting thing he said about this, because his love was so all inclusive, is was he said that?
So he proposed he did not seek full restitution of wages lost to slavery, which he believed impossible. But proposed a government company sent compensatory program of $50 billion over 10 years to all disadvantaged groups. So $50 billion now seems like a drop in the bucket compared to what these last year the spending programs of the federal government is doing. Now, there's $65 billion just available for broadband across the country. Martin Luther King posited, quote, the money spent would be more than amply justified by the benefits that would accrue to the nation through a spectacular decline in school dropouts, family breakups, crime rates, illegitimacy, swollen relief, rolls, rioting, and other social evils. Unquote. He said, he didn't want it to be only for African Americans. He wanted the money spent for all people who are poor, he said, quote, that this effort should benefit the disadvantaged of all races. So seeing the evils or the problems of suffer of poverty in the times when the Buddha gave social teachings for the kind of four teachings that addressed the government's and how they should care for everyone, he saw that one of the one of the most impact in the time of his time 2500 years ago, one of the important most important role for governments back then it was the king was anti poverty programs was to provide the means for people to be able to pull themselves out of poverty and provide them with land and other means. And you know, this idea that, that poverty and well being and lack of well-being in the overcoming poverty is essential for people to work for, you know, to help them out of poverty, how without that, how can people thrive and develop. And so this dedication to love in action, would take the form of not allowing people to live in poverty to support anti poverty programs, deport those who are poor in our country, to support people who are disadvantaged. And that's why I was so touched by this one man in Thailand, who used his own savings to to provide enough money to this woman her gift to this woman, so she could break out of her cycles of poverty and, and, and the sex trade. And then it's opened up a shop in your home country, home home town can make a difference. So love. So I would like to suggest that motto that we think of Martin Luther King's holiday, as a holiday of love. And the argument or the rationale for that, is that love was what Martin Luther King based his life on, and all, all the all the good work he did for our society that we celebrate and that they did so much good was, you know, was really based on his foundation for love. And when this country went astray, and went into war with Vietnam, he knew that that war in Vietnam was going to damage this country, he thought he called it a poison for the United States. And one analysis for the consequence of the Vietnam War, is that we're still suffering from the divisions in this country that that war opened up. And, and if it's true with Martin Luther King said that the focus on overcoming poverty that started just before the rise, that this, this escalation of the American war in Vietnam, that that was that that came to an end or was to cut somehow, impoverished war and poverty was impoverished. That this has a lasting effect on this country that we've never really come back to really address poverty in the same all encompassing way. And we've ended up a country that's the poison of hate. That is, exists in our society in such a huge way. And so let's be careful.
Remember, hate is does not end with hate. Let's be phenomenally careful that, to use our practice, to use our care and our love, to not succumb to hate ourselves. And that's all we do. Fantastic. But maybe when we don't succumb to love to hate, maybe we too can celebrate love and can open up to love and let love kindness, goodwill, generosity, respect. Compassion, be the operating principles for how we live this life. Because if we do that, then that is the world that we're competing to make. With every action that we do that's influenced by love. We are contributing to a world where love has a place. May we love on this weekend? And perhaps an everyday Thank you