Culminating 2022 Ango Weekly Message: Freedom and Liberation

December 14, 2022

Image: Tsherin Sherpa’s painting from the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (please check out his work at the link here…it’s wondrous)

A weekly message from dharma teachers Sarah Dōjin Emerson and Charlie Korin Pokorny in support of the 2022 Fall Practice Period.

I am quite confident that even as the oceans boil, and the hurricanes beat violently against our once safe shores, and the air sweats with the heat of impending doom, and our fists protest the denial of climate justice, that there is a path to take that has nothing to do with victory or defeat: a place we do not yet know the coordinates to; a question we do not yet know how to ask. The point of the departed arrow is not merely to pierce the bullseye and carry the trophy: the point of the arrow is to sing the wind and remake the world in the brevity of flight. There are things we must do, sayings we must say, thoughts we must think, that look nothing like the images of success that have so thoroughly possessed our visions of justice.

May this new decade be remembered as the decade of the strange path, of the third way, of the broken binary, of the traversal disruption, the kairotic moment, the posthuman movement for emancipation, the gift of disorientation that opened up new places of power, and of slow limbs. May this decade bring more than just solutions, more than just a future – may it bring words we don’t know yet, and temporalities we have not yet inhabited. May we be slower than speed could calculate, and swifter than the pull of the gravity of words can incarcerate. And may we be visited so thoroughly, and met in wild places so overwhelmingly, that we are left undone. Ready for composting. Ready for the impossible. Welcome to the decade of the fugitive.
– Bayo Akomolafe from his website

Beloved Sangha,

We have come to what appears to be the end of this Ango, this Peaceful Abiding, together this fall at BZC. So we have come to the beginning of exploring how everything we have taken up now has time to percolate, infiltrate, nurture, inform and hopefully alter our lives in the direction of liberation.

For this final week, and for the rest of our lives and lifetimes to come, we invite us all to take up the practice of liberation, of freedom. It may sound like a lofty invitation- to engage freedom and liberation- but look for the ways this engagement is available right now, and right now, and right now.

What did we learn about freedom and liberation in our early lives? What were the archetypes? What were the images? And how do we hold and engage freedom and liberation now? How has the Dharma seeped into you? And how has this shaped how you engage freedom and liberation?

Take your time with all of these questions, and let what you find be as spacious as you can imagine.

May there be joy in your efforts.

May there be rest and nourishment.

May there be play.

May there be radical, life-affirming bouts of transformative imagination that change you and shape the world around you, for the benefit of everyone you encounter and many beyond your perception who you’ll never even know.

And, maybe most importantly, may this Ango help sow into each of us a clarity that liberation only occurs in concert with all things, even in the tiniest and most seemingly personal of moments. That, like Shakyamuni Buddha, every awakening only happens together with all beings.

And in this, may we take refuge in Sangha.

May we take refuge in Dharma.

May we take refuge in Buddha.

My mother taught us that the Marvelous was free- in the patterns of a stray bird feather, in a Hudson River sunset, in the view from the fire escape, in the stories she told us, in the way she sang Gershwin’s “Summertime,” in a curbside rainbow created by the alchemy of motor oil and water from an open hydrant. She simply wanted us to live through our third eye, and see life as possibility. She wanted us to imagine a world free of patriarchy, a world where gender and sexual relations could be reconstructed. She wanted us to see the poetic and prophetic in the richness of our daily lives. She wanted us to visualize a more expansive, fluid, “cosmos-politan” definition of blackness, to teach us that we are not merely inheritors of a culture but its makers.
Robin D. G. Kelley, from Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

Please care for yourself, one another and all beings as we participate together towards freedom.

With bows and with love,
Sarah & Charlie