ARISE Letter on the Mass Shootings, January 2023

Dear Sangha,

In the wake of the mass shootings that have transpired over the past week and days, we are broken hearted and at times words escape us. Where there are no words, there is our practice, and we are leaning deeply into that, especially as we honor Thay’s transition and the Lunar New Year. 

We send compassionate energy for the lives lost and all those impacted, including their families, friends and communities; to the elders, to the members of Black, Asian, and Latino communities.  Whether farm working in Half Moon Bay, CA, dancing in Monterey Park, CA or Baton Rouge, LA, being with family in Goshen, CA or with friends in Oakland, CA; lives were upended.  We recognize that yet again some of our most marginalized communities have been hurt.

Grief and sadness are present. Anger and pain are real. We make space for the heartbreak, caring for grief. As our hearts are broken and broken open, more space for love can be created.  We make space for the pain and anger knowing that feeling it can guide us towards skillful action. We dedicate the merit of our practice, including the practice of leaning into the heartbreak, pain, grief, and rage, while still loving, to all those lost, to all those impacted, including their families, friends and communities.

Our teacher, while in Vietnam during the U.S. war, lived near gunfire and other forms of violence. He encouraged us in taking care of suffering from such violence: “The best medicine to chase away the heart’s dark isolation is to make direct contact with life’s sufferings, to touch and share the anxieties and uncertainties of others.” Let us sit quietly, walk quietly, lie quietly and be grateful for these simple privileges. And let us connect with and touch the suffering of our siblings in these moments. If we have the capacity, let us invite in the suffering in our various communities and send out loving kindness to them. In this way, we are in presence with them. This is our compassionate heart opening up to our siblings’ pain and suffering during these times. This is why we practice, for the freedom of ourselves and all beings.

In dedication to the work of justice, of an embodied loving that creates collective care, 

ARISE Sangha

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