Dear Friends,

 We hope that you are safe and well.

 Today's meditation is a reflection from the Upaya Zen Center "Swimming Upstream."

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

MEDITATION 730: Swimming Upstream

Painting: Tsherin Sherpa, Dialogue, 2015

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

During the Vietnam War, A.J. Muste, a man of faith and a political activist, who worked in the labor movement, pacifist movement, anti-war movement, and Civil Rights movement, would stand in front of the White House night after night with a single lit candle - many nights he was alone. A reporter interviewed him one evening as he stood in the rain. "Mr. Muste," the reporter said, "do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night with a candle?" Muste replied, "Oh, I don't do this to change the country. I do this so the country won't change me."

In her book STANDING AT THE EDGE, Roshi Joan writes: “How is that some people don’t get beaten down by the world but are animated by the deep desire to serve?” Muste was such a person. So was Roshi Bernie Glassman. So is Joanna Macy. So is Malala Yousafzai. So is Grete Thunberg. So was the Buddha.

We can recall that the Buddha said: “I teach one thing and one thing only: the truth of suffering and the ending of suffering.” He did not skip over item one!

He also said: my dharma is swimming upstream.

We are swimming pretty hard right now against a strong current: the pandemic, the climate catastrophe, racist violence, political corruption, and more…. It takes a lot of virya, a lot of wholeheartedness to swim against the tides of violence we are experiencing today.

Zen practice is precisely this: swimming upstream, being wholehearted and resilient, not denying the truth and presence of suffering and impermanence; as well as seeing that liberation is possible by realizing fundamental unselfishness.

Zen, as we practice it at Upaya, also is grounded in the perspective that Bodhisattvas do not seek easy situations. Bodhisattvas practice and serve in charnel grounds, whether working as a health care provider, dealing with sickness or loss, or calling out corrupt politicians.