Image: Buddha Field by Mike Newhall
A weekly message from dharma teachers Sarah Dōjin Emerson and Charlie Korin Pokorny in support of the 2022 Fall Practice Period.
I awakened from my trance state and was stunned to find the world I was living in, the world of the present, was no longer a world open to love. And I noticed that all around me I heard testimony that lovelessness had become the order of the day. I feel our nation’s turning away from love as intensely as I felt love’s abandonment in my girlhood. Turning away we risk moving into a wilderness of spirit so intense we may never find our way home again. I write of love to bear witness both to the danger in this movement, and to call for a return to love. Redeemed and restored, love returns us to the promise of everlasting life. When we love we can let our hearts speak.
-bell hooks, preface to All About Love
Dear beloved sangha,
This week we would like to offer a focus on the practice-engagement and cultivation of love. To take up together the possibility that, to move towards liberation in this world, grounding ourselves in love increases the possibility of our capacity for freedom and skillfulness in our hearts, minds and actions.
Love is a complex concept/ emotion/ action/ way of being. No doubt there are layers and layers for each of us in what it means and how it is in us. How we cultivate love is a vast exploration.
This week we want to offer one from our tradition, which is the cultivation of Metta, often translated as “loving kindness,” or, as Mushim Ikeda names in her article below, “good will.” This is a cultivation that may be misunderstood as generating something soft and gentle, but in our experience, cultivating Metta is actually a vigorous challenge to the heart, to grow its capacity to extend connection and care beyond conditioned limits, beyond dualities of who is/ is not within the scope of our heart’s care. And it is a cultivation that is endless, and therefore can be engaged anew everyday.
We are in the last few weeks of this practice period together. There will be two more weekly emails after this one. Next week will focus on imagination and the last week on liberation. Again, we hope that you can feel each week building on those before, and see the connections between all we have been working with and how you engage with the concepts of these last three weeks. We hope that turning towards love feels like the natural next step of our collective bodhisattva efforts.
– Read this article “How to Practice Metta for a Troubled Time” by Mushim Patricia Ikeda
– Listen to this guided meditation on Metta practice recorded by Sarah (16 minutes)
Inquiring into conditioning:
This is a big one…but gently take some time to sit with and explore- how do you know love in this world? Where did your root sense of love come from? from who? How does love live in your life now? How has it changed from your early life? How is it the same? As always, be as wide as you can in your scope of what you include both in what “Love” is and also what it does in the world, how you express it and know it.
With metta and in sangha,
Sarah & Charlie