[Cover photo by Buddy Poland]
“In My Name, I Want No Vengeance”
– Michal Halev, mother of Laor Abramov
“Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law.”
-Dhammapada (Sayings of the Buddha)
A Statement from Myoyu Roshi in consultation with members of the Great Plains Zen Center Racial Justice Circle, on the events onfolding in Gaza:
It seems nearly miraculous to me that in the depth of her suffering, Michal Halev could so beautifully embody the wisdom of the Buddha expressed in the Dhammapada verse: “Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law.”
The suffering in Gaza – on all sides – is incredibly difficult to bear witness to. The present situation is complex and the result of decades, centuries, of conflict, misunderstanding and othering. A simple good guy/bad guy story does not capture that history. Although we may wish for a rapid resolution to the catastrophic situation, we find ourselves in the “Not knowing” of the Zen Peacemaker’s Three Tenets, recognizing our helplessness in the face of such horror, realizing how much we don’t know and don’t understand.
Still we do know that real suffering – both Israeli and Palestinian is taking place and there is the imminent potential for much more. As Hozan Alan Senauke of Berkeley Zen Center, Clear View Project, says in his statement, now is not the time to turn away. Bearing witness, the second Zen Peacemaker Tenet, means being present, not fleeing, even though we’d like to. Bearing witness does not mean we don’t have an opinion, even a strong one. How would we feel if our child, mother or father had been killed, seriously injured or taken captive?
Perhaps it means not turning away from or disregarding anyone’s suffering or human needs, even if we do not share their viewpoints or agree with their actions. And as expressed by this very wise mother, it means being present with the most difficult of feelings, resisting the urge to retaliate and inflict harm in a futile attempt to assuage our pain.
Only by bearing witness to the whole of the situation, can appropriate loving action arise (the Third Zen Peacemaker Tenet), action that is truly informed by the needs of all concerned and the unfolding events and not simply our unexamined preconceptions and prejudices, the same preconceptions and prejudices that fuel conflicts such as this in the first place. Although most of us are living far from Gaza, we can bear witness by informing ourselves, listening to the voices of those impacted and by being aware of the potential for increased Antisemitism and Islamophobia in our own communities as a result of the heightened conflict.
Hozan Sensei’s statement links to some valuable resources provided by Nonviolence International . We also recommend this statement from Right To Be (formerly Hollaback), an organization working to end hate and harassment in all its forms, condemning the violence impacting Israelis and Palestinians. Right to Be has some relevant upcoming trainings (free and online): Bystander Intervention To Stop Antisemitism Harassment on October 24, Bystander Intervention To Stop Islamophobic and Xenophobic Harassment on October 26 and Conflict De-Escalation In Protest Spaces also October 26. We acknowledge that the resources provided express points of view that may or may not be in agreement with all RJC members and GPZC at large.
Finally, here is a fundraiser to ensure Wadea-Al Fayoume, the six year old Palestinian American boy who was murdered in Plainfield, Illinois, receives (in the words of the fundraiser) “a proper Janazah (funeral), his mother’s medical expenses are covered, and to create a Sadaqah Jariyah, a lasting legacy in his memory.” You are invited to visit the page for further information.
May All Beings be Peaceful, Free and Safe!