The Ideal is Possible

Today I did something really cool- I spoke on air about my work with the Revolutionary Love Project for L2O, a platform that organizes online communities. We talked about what Revolutionary Love means from a Buddhist perspective, how we practice in our own contexts, and most importantly, what it means to stand in love with our opponents.

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PC: Jeremy Bishop

I really enjoyed thinking critically about these questions, especially when it came to calling on wisdom from faith traditions and sacred texts. I realized as I was talking that much of my faith comes from stories and written wisdom- stories take us from a place of wonder or discomfort to a new idea. They often involve learning. I feel most connected to my own practice when I think about stories of the Buddha, and the stories tucked away in the Zhuangzi and Laozi. Whether or not they are factually true, I think these stories reveal the essence of what kind of people we hope to be. They hint at values and ethics. We walk with the protagonists to learn lessons.

At the end of the interview, Sara from L2O asked, “What does an ideal world with Revolutionary Love look like?” I admit I was rolling along through the other questions, having practiced my elevator pitch several times before. The Fourth Precept of Engaged Buddhism tells us not to turn a blind eye to suffering. We must practice knowing our own innate goodness in order to know that of others. I have a sizable story bank that allows me to illustrate what I believe quite often.

This question forced me to think about my end goal in this work. What is it all about? I know that writing and reading and dialoguing give me life, especially on the topics of faith and social justice, but to what end? I admit: I don’t know what “the ideal” is.

Pause for a second. One of the ways I ground myself in love is recognizing that everyone suffers. My job is to help alleviate that suffering- but not the reality that suffering is the way of this world. I think it’s important to acknowledge that everyone holds pain and fear. I believe further that it’s important for us to sit with it for a while. Running away only further embeds these harmful emotions into our bodies and minds. So an ideal world is not one free from suffering necessarily, but one in which the suffering translates to discomfort. When we sit in a place of tension and discomfort, we are learning. When others share with us that we contribute to their discomfort, we learn how to alleviate that. I found myself saying out loud that a world grounded in Revolutionary Love isn’t one that is absent of sadness. Instead, it is one where every emotion has a purpose, and every person sees relationship as divine. It is one in which fear drives us to build bridges, not retreat.

And finally, I turned to my old friend gratitude. Gratitude for me is the acceptance that we may not have fully realized a goal or gotten exactly what we wanted, but we acknowledge that we are better off having met someone, experienced something, learned something. A world grounded in Revolutionary Love is one in which gratitude abounds. I must say, I feel very grateful to have gotten this opportunity today.

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