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Full talk: http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Miscellaneous/Aitken_on_Responsibility.pdf.....This puts responsibility for the Dharma on each individual student, where it belongs. It has taken millennia of process and more to bring this change into being, and the end is by no means yet. The process is laicization. I remember thirty or so years ago when I visited the Zen sanghas of Los Angeles and San Francisco. In question periods I would be asked about lay practice. This was a bit like asking a fish how it is there in the sea. The question simply never came up in the exclusively lay Diamond Sangha.
......Fulfillment in the Dharma does not require a certain social position.
Furthermore it is important not to be caught up in false tradition. Tracing our history back through the Far East, it is clear that we inherit the presumption that students of the Dharma do not involve themselves in political action. I am convinced that this is a kind of hold-over like sexism that is not essential to the Dharma. The movement of the Mahayana clearly has enabled us to touch the Iraq and the Darfur in ourselves and me, and a concern for those parts of ourselves surely is shared in the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. It behooves us to keep up with our reading of Robert Fisk and Antonia Juhasz and to speak out and act out accordingly.
.....Just as the United States is still seeking to live up to the proclamations of Abraham Lincoln, so Mahayana Buddhism and its followers still seek to live up to the visualizations of Eighth Century Buddhist genius, which really rest on the Buddha’s own proclamations. The ancient vows taken for us are no more than profound common sense. The fact that Iraqis are my sisters and brothers doesn’t need to be swathed in saffron robes.
.....The Buddhist Peace Fellowship is our vehicle, just as the other various modes of Buddhism are vehicles. Let’s use it as a vehicle for the most common sense we can conjure up. Our model can be the Dukabors, who burn down their houses and parade stark naked by way of making their commonsensical human points. Don’t dismiss them as Dukabors. They are brothers and sisters, bare dicks and tits and all. They are their own vehicle and can teach us something.
.....This is Baizhang’s kensho story, but as with most students, kensho was only the beginning for Baizhang. [Turn to the endnotes of this paper and follow through for the continuation.] Turn to your own experience. There is nothing be-all and end-all with kensho, and those who imply to the contrary know not whereof they speak. Point-after- point arise out there, and in the mind as well. How lucky it is to be a human being!
....As a nation we are on a downward path, invading the world, as Antonia Juhasz says, one economy at a time.
Are we in a place where we can speak out?
.....It is better for a bunch of us within the Fellowship to call ourselves the Buddhist Anarchist Caucus or something like that and just meet for coffee around somebody’s kitchen table somewhere. Why “anarchist?” Because we’re Buddhist.
Buddhism is anarchism, after all, for anarchism is love, trust, selflessness and all those good Buddhist virtues including a total lack of imposition on another.
Today we’re up against the iron face of carefully crafted public opinion. From the Haymarket tragedy in 1886 to the trials of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1921, there was in the United States almost half century of concerted, bloody minded, and ultimately successful endeavor to erase anarchism and its devotees from civilized discourse. To this day, even
in a gathering like our own, the very word “anarchist” evokes an unkempt foreigner with a bomb about to go off in his back pocket. It might seem better to keep the two words in separate little boxes.
....Everything really is empty, personally interconnected, and precious in itself. We don’t need some guy in
saffron robes to tell us so. Apart from Google hits and from any kind of Buddhism, our ordinary common sense tells us so.
....It’s time to put ourselves in a position where we have nothing to protect. No group ego. No name, no slogan. Like King Christian X of Denmark we can all wear the yellow star. We can all wave the black flag, no color and no design. It is design that does us in. There is only one thing that works in the face of the iron faces, and that is decency.
By being decent, I don’t mean being nice. I mean Mahayana responsibility. It isn’t nice to block the doorway. Decent Mahayana conduct means behaving appropriately. It is surely appropriate in these days of justifying torture and white phosphorous as weapons, to hold up an inexorable mirror to the fiends who are raising hell in our name—and then
following through with an essential agenda that is not necessarily legal, like smuggling medicine to Iraqi people—the program of Voices in the Wilderness until the situation became too dangerous—or setting up a half-way house for recently released prisoners, like the Olympia Zen Center, or feeding the poor, five days a week, week in and week out
for years and years, like Catholic Worker houses across the country.
The essential agenda is not a hobby, after all.