This is June 20, 2021, the summer solstice, tonight. And, of course, the day after June 19, Juneteenth. And our Independence Day coming up in a couple of weeks, I'm going to attempt to braid together, these points of realization. And that have been some practice. In astrology the summer solstice and both Solstice is are sometimes called points of realization, that's where it's sort of the, the high tide mark in terms of the summer solstice, the high tide tide mark in the, the Yang side of things, the, the de force the sun at its highest in throughout the year at its highest altitude declination. In this northern hemisphere in the southern hemisphere of course it's the opposite.
First Juneteenth, is now officially a national holiday, as probably everyone knows who's listening to this, this week, Congress passed a bill in Russia through officially recognizing June 19 as a national holiday, commemorating the day in 1865, when enslaved people in Texas were finally informed that they had been freed over two years earlier officially by the Emancipation Proclamation. So that was that the original Juneteenth that Texas commemoration was 156 years ago. Before going further, I want to read from an article bits of an article by that I found online I did something of a deep dive yesterday. With regard to Juneteenth, and this one caught my eyes by a Caitlin GreenEDGE a contributing writer opinion writer to the New York Times, and is the author of the novel liberty.
Just a few sentences from here just to kind of a retrospective. She says that although it has recently gained nationwide attention. Having just become a federal holiday. It originated as Texas specific celebration of the end of slavery. Other states and regions have their own traditions for marking emancipation. Crucially, these, these celebrations have different dates from place to place, because freedom was gained through wildly different ways for black people across this country. Some black communities, she writes in the north and south have also celebrated Emancipation Day on the first of January, because that was when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Emancipation Proclamation into law. And by the way, in parentheses here, with the caveat that it applied only to enslave people in rebelling territories. Those in border states and territories in the union, though, including Maryland Missouri and West Virginia, among others remained legally enslaved black churches, she says usually hosted these days. That is the Emancipation Day and the first of January, with watch nights on New Year's Eve melding together with community wide celebrations on January 1 met, she says, the varied regional histories of Emancipation Day celebrations are a reminder that freedom in this country has never meant the same thing to everyone has definitely never been experienced the same, and has always been conditional.
And of course, for all of the other reason we have to celebrate that this is finally a federal law. And there is reason to celebrate that, of course, we know that structural institutional systemic racism, goes on, and has always gone on in this country, just to review what what that is. Reading, having read from some, some material online. Learned finally that systemic systemic racism and structural racism are synonymous and used interchangeably. These are these, these structural systemic and institutional broadly referred to the, the system of structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage, African Americans. According to the N double A CP. It refers to the rules, practices and customs once rooted in law with residual effects that reverberate through society. So, one clear example of systemic racism is redlining, which was a system once used by banks and the real estate industry that literally outlined the neighborhoods where people have cover lived in red ink. If you lived inside the red lines loans were considered risky and banks were less likely to give loans or invest, we, we have our own sorry history here in Rochester of redlining, it was banned in 1968, but the impact lives on preventing black family families from amassing wealth at the same rate as their white neighbors on the other side of that red line. According to the Federal Reserve, the net worth of a typical white family is $171,000, which is 10 times greater than that of a black family structural racism. Homes in black neighborhoods are generally, and historically worth less than white homes, because the developers and businesses that make a neighborhood, more prosperous, are less likely to be there. again, bring it back to local, there's this issue that gained flash of attention this, this summer, or the spring rather about Wegmans having no stores within the city of Rochester. That means that the tax base is lower too, which has a trickle down effect, less tax dollars for schools, which means fewer kindergarten classes, fewer qualified teachers, and fewer advanced placement classes, little more here. African Americans have lower graduation rates from high school and even fewer go on to graduate from college. And this many of sad is caused in part by the school to prison pipeline that disproportionately impacts people of color. Once you have a prison record it invades all aspects of your life. Getting everything from a job to an apartment becomes that much more difficult. How can we not feel anguish. At a whole race of people in this country. Having so many disadvantages having, having finding it so hard to fight upstream against these, these forces of structural and institutional racism.
Little bit more here. Many children of color. Instead of getting that getting benefiting from additional educational and counseling services, They are isolated punished or incarcerated.
Those who complain that affirmative action is unfair, or missing the bigger picture. The big picture is, is a lot of of compensation, a lot of reckoning, that people of color are owed. And now, another article. This is from a by Kevin young. He's the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC to this joyous event where Juneteenth is now a federal Federal holiday. He says on the screen, bits of this to what June teeth and other emancipation days commemorate is both the promise of freedom, and its delay. And then, of course, because it's been 156 years since the original Juneteenth. Before became a federal holiday.
The lesson of Juneteenth, he says, is both of celebration and expectation of freedom deferred, but still sought and have the freedoms to come. Again, all of the work remains to be done to catch up. In terms of in terms of equality. Daunting daunting project that we can't delay on anymore.
I could not help but see a spiritual analog to all this, which is the very daunting project of
uprooting our own greed, anger and delusion.
Each step of the way if we stick with Zen practice long enough. We have a very real possibility of insights of one kind or another.
Insights are great insights, especially some kind of breakthrough might be called Kensho but usually it's very very light, that the great value of, of breakthrough is, to the degree in which it enables us to practice more effectively to go on practicing more effectively and doing the, the years, the lifetimes of mopping up the remains to be done.
More here from this article by Kevin Young. Perhaps the commemorations from Tulsa. There was this recent 200 year commemoration of the Tulsa massacre this horrendous massacre of in Oklahoma. He says, perhaps these commemoration should remind us of the threats that shadowed emancipation long after slavery was legally over. And now we're seeing, maybe more, more vividly than in a long time maybe ever how democracy itself is under threat.
He says, and we need more than just one day to call our attention to freedoms delayed and denied, maybe what we need is an emancipation season. Or I can almost hear my late father say, just plain old full throated freedom would be nice.
And then we have this, this, we see the same, the same challenge at work nationally. Were in 1776, the Declaration of Independence, held out these exalted ideals, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty. Liberty in that document it took another 89 years before the original Juneteenth. 87 years until the Emancipation Proclamation. No, the, the ideals of this country are great ones. They're just remarkable. What, what was born in 1776. But there is this lag between the formal inaugurating of this country and its ideals, and the living, the real embodying on national scale. Those ideals. Again, reminds me of how we can have these insights in Zen practice, but then there is this, this lag, we see we we are shown a vista of what's possible. But because of because of habit forces because of karma. We, we continually get pulled back. We can't. We can't fully live up to these at all times. nationally we these ideals of liberty, freedom, have been betrayed, not just delayed but betrayed
victory, this is the national work ahead of us is just the collective work of us, each one of us as individuals
found another website from the Center for racial justice in education, where it had some couple of interesting definitions. One was collective liberation. Let's read some of the collective liberation acknowledges that multiple oppressions exist and that we work in solidarity to undo oppression in ourselves, our families, our communities and our institutions. In order to achieve a world that is truly free. We work in solidarity also sounds like Sangha. To me. To undo oppression in ourselves. Isn't this where it starts. How, how, how much can we liberate others until we ourselves have been liberated, to one degree or another.
And even after some degree of liberation, it's called Kensho again there's so much work. One of my favorite passages from a Chinese source comes from a great Chinese master question. He's asked after one has attained instantaneous enlightenment. Must he still cultivate his spiritual life. Do we still have to keep sitting after any measure of insight. Well, some will not. Some will even even short of Kensho will have some kind of liberating insight. Maybe in sesshin it's most likely and to happen in sesshin. And that's enough for them. Okay, That's where they're at. And then, for even those who have had a breakthrough have had some degree of Kensho. That's not enough. And then, here, here is what the rest of what question says, If one is truly enlightened and truly enlightened that's long beyond Kensho. If one is truly enlightened and has realized the fundamental. And he's aware of it himself. In such case, he is actually no longer tied to the poles of practice and no practice. But ordinarily, even though the original mind has been awakened by an intervening cause. Yet there still remains the inertia of habit, form since the beginning of time, which cannot be totally eliminated a stroke at a stroke. I can say are formed, since even our independence as a country since 1776 And before that, this inertia of habit. He must be taught to cut off completely this stream of his habitual ideas and views. And I'm interjecting racist and otherwise, caused by the still operative karmas.
And we we we so need one another, to go stick with this, this effort, so helpful to practice with others. Sangha. Sangha in its wisdom example and never failing help.
There's another definition from this center for racial justice in education, and that is transformation. Transformation is the daily and on daily and ongoing cycle of learning unlearning shedding and growing that emerges into the creation of new and radical possibilities. Sure sounds like Zen practice to me
learning and unlearning you can you can see, Zen practice as both. It's more famously known as a practice of unlearning. That is freeing ourselves of the concepts the ideas, the views, the opinions that bind us to suffering. Of course includes racism includes race, white racism as well as black racism and shedding. Zen practice is a practice of daily losing. There's nothing we have to acquire Zen practice doesn't give us anything that we don't already have. We just need to slough off these binding mental acquisitions these thoughts and ideas, and then then especially the more deeply seated ones, the entrenched ideas of self and other, and more. More to the point here to this morning, it's us and them tribalism and all of its forms. This is a big job
trends transformation that goes on requires courage as design practice intention. I think of the Bodhisattva vows and community in order to imagine a new and liberated, future, as distinct from our past. It wants us as individuals, institutions and societies to hold the mirror to ourselves, reveal what systems of oppression have hidden from our consciousness and envision a world where freedom, justice and liberation are possible,
be a great, great daunting project of true racial liberation, as, as, as, as formidable as it is, is just a piece of this ultimate project of fulfilling the four vows.
There is a. Yeah, a Greek philosopher or a stoic philosopher Epictetus, who was born a slave who famously said, No man is free, who is not master of himself. Who among us is master of ourselves, master of our thoughts, who can make that claim. These thoughts that are so tenacious. He starts to which we are really addicted to. How can we say that we have mastered our thoughts, ever. Well, just, just to remind people, it's not a matter of eliminating thoughts. But developing the, the pet through practice developing the ability to not cling to them as they arise.
Zen master Erdogan, also known as most most well known pronouncements, he said, There is no beginning to enlightenment or end to practice. There is no beginning to practice or end to enlightenment and less exertion and less exertion as voters, we have a primary coming up in two days. a local primary and less exertion as voters to do our part to first of all be informed of the candidates. And then to get to the polls and vote. Don't think you have any right to complain if you're not voting. So there's that.
There's the responsibility we have to do what we can, given the amount of time, we can, we can take to work together for political, racial, gender equality.
Now this most recent threat flare up of Arizona now other states have
elections subversion, maybe call it. Even after all this certified results then going on with this in name effort to draw that into question
stowed voter suppression is another threat rising. The ongoing mass incarceration. Now, after centuries of supposed liberty in this country. Attacks against critical race theory in public education. They keep these things will, we will continually encounter these just as we do these Dharma gates without number.
But how, how wonderful that we have a practice that enables us to, to walk this path to, to undo. Yes, gradually, there may be a process to undo these forces, starting with ourselves in ourselves. And then to whatever extent we can extending that outward.
So long as we have this practice and once we do the practice. Can we can take heart from words of Edmund Burke who's Irish statesman and in the back, the teeth are 19th century Irish statesman, he said depend upon it, that the lovers of freedom will be free. What do we want what do we need what is most important is how badly. Do we want to see through this greed, anger and delusion, if even if we can live in harmony, what we've seen, at least, to see through it, see the emptiness. The insubstantiality of these, these karmic forces as powerful as they are, and to never be satisfied with anything anything we are any point of realization any point of, of understanding.
Think it's great at its broadest or most promising of June teeth can amplify and expand the, the liberatory arch from the black experience throughout the country. We can we have every reason to take harder. This is no small thing. It's for decades. The representatives in Congress have blocked efforts to make this a national holiday Juneteenth is done. Finally, you can question why some of these guys in the Senate who clearly are not sympathetic to racial injustice very much, why they would vote, alright nevermind, they voted, it's, it's law. Wonderful. It's a, it's a plateau. That too is same with practice we reach plateaus. Below plateaus and then somewhat higher plateaus. And it just gives us the footing, such as there's any falling to anything, gives us the footing to press off from there and go on go forward.
I thought I would run over time with this topic. Maybe it's better to quit while I'm ahead, if I might head at all. This wonderful saying less sometimes less is more. So we'll stop now and recite the four vows with our number array by dye array. My game has been managing the right way. Good job. So right now, I feel liberates growth measure. Have you tried the right way. Good job. Liberate match. I wrote a down measure I benefit. right away.