Author Archives: jespada

The Metta of Martin Luther King

Part I – love as a method of personal and social transformation; Part II – An all-encompassing method; & Part III – A world perspective

Part I

I thought it might be interesting to sketch out a few notes on the parallels between Dr. King’s ideas, and the teachings on metta. Both show us love as a method of personal and social transformation. There are a few places where they overlap, and some ways they can potentially compliment each other.

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A few notes on faith

From Faith, Devotion, and Blessings on the Path to Liberation

Faith comes in a few different ways. First, there is the intimation of a greater truth, something in us that says, ‘Yes, this is the way to go’.

This becomes verified faith, as we follow our intuition. Our trust in a teacher or a tradition proves itself. We become healthier, more at peace, open to others and responsive.

After this, and higher than these two is unshakable faith. Having this kind of trust calms and steadies the mind.

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Why compassion is the most important thing in the world

I think most people could tell you, after having lived some years on this earth that what really lasts in memory is not so much what people do, but the goodwill they share with us. When we’re treated with kindness, it stays with us. It can nurture and strengthen us for a long time. Deprived of love, we wither, or become twisted. Cared for, we are healthy and we thrive. After a while we know that love is essential for living.

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Mahayana Thought Training – An Ideal Practice for Our Times

Turning Adverse Circumstances into the Path of Awakening

I recently heard the Buddhist story of Devala the Dark, who was being cursed by seven Bramhans, ‘but the more they cursed him, the more beautiful, good-looking, and inspiring he became…’

This reminded me of the Tibetan Buddhist Thought Training practice, called changing adverse circumstances into the path to enlightenment. One analogy they use is that of the Peacock in the Poison Grove. They say this mythological bird eats poison, and his plumage becomes brighter, and even more beautiful. The more difficult things are, and the greater the need, the stronger these practices become. In some ways, this is the ideal practice for our times.

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From Eugene Smith to Frank Espada

{Photo credits: Eugene Smith, by Don Getsug; Frank Espada, Big Sur, 1984, by Jason Espada}

As soon as I heard the photographer W. Eugene Smith’s voice, in a documentary produced for Japanese television, I recognized him immediately as a spiritual ancestor. It was not just what he said that was so moving, and familiar to me, but his fierce love and commitment to the people he photographed.

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The Great Bridge to Universal Love

Of the categories in metta, or Buddhist loving kindness practice, of self, friends and those closest to us, neutral people, those we have difficulty with, and all beings, the one that gets talked about the least is clearly the neutral person.  This is understandable, after all.  The dear person category is easy, and enjoyable, and everyone who takes up metta practice wants to at least lessen their aversion to the enemy category.  ‘All beings’, also, feels good even just to think about.  But where does that leave the group of those people we don’t know personally? As we’ll see, all the categories in metta practice are important, and have an essential role to play.

When we think about it, this category of metta for neutral people forms the bridge between those we know and care about, and those we do not, and almost certainly will never know personally.  This expands the field of our metta practice immeasurably…

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