Peace in our hearts – Buddhist Daily

On December 21, the sun reached its southernmost point on the Tropic of Capricorn[1]. She is already climbing north towards the equator. It is the time of the midwinter solstice, when the ancient cultures of Northern Europe celebrated their festivals of light since prehistoric times; overcoming the darkness and in joyful anticipation of the lengthening days with the promise of new life, new light and the coming of spring. Christmas is a celebration of light and new birth; the date corresponds to that of the solstice on the ancient Roman calendar. The Christmas tree is a legacy from that time and has become a symbol of Christmas; elements of nature and Christian religion are fused together. The nativity scene has disappeared from most houses, the Christmas tree has remained.

From time immemorial, the end of the year has been a time for reflection, it is a time of hope for new life and new light. Perhaps this is why many people even in our time have an inner urge to meet in silence. For years I attended New Year’s Eve sesshins, they were of great beauty, partly because of the location, in the middle of Zeeland’s vast winter polder landscape, with a sparkling starry sky and a clear moon above, making the interconnectedness and eternity of the moment palpable in the freezing cold during our passage from the zendo to our sleeping places.

Natural phenomena are often accompanied by special events, such as two thousand years ago when a shining star showed the Epiphany way to the stable in Bethlehem on Christmas night. January 6 is traditionally celebrated as the Epiphany. The Chevetogne Monks’ Christmas CD reads: “We celebrate the wondrous moment of the joyous birth born of the womb of humanity, whose grace and joy pervade all creation.”[…]”it is a gift to mankind to preach the message of redemption from our daily afflictions”, happy news!

It is the central message of every religion, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. Every religion presupposes a redemption or liberation from our suffering. In our tradition, we believe that all living beings are born with Buddha nature. We live in the relative samsaric world of suffering, but we already carry redemption within us. Everything is there, we are already awakened, but we are stuck in the ego. Through our practice, a process can begin where: “the ego self is transformed into a compassionate self; a closed self to an open self; a confused self to an enlightened self”[2]. On the pillow we sometimes experience glimpses of the absolute and enlightened reality.

How do you express your faith in redemption in everyday life? In the political arena, this happened in the middle of World War II, in an appeal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941 in his ‘State of the Union’. He appealed to the world to no longer fight against something, but for something. For the restoration of democratic values ​​that could only flourish if the four fundamental freedoms of humanity were respected: freedom of speech and religion and freedom from want and fear, poverty and violence.

Roosevelt Academy has been in Middelburg since 1982[3] in even years, the Four Freedoms Award to individuals and organizations that have distinguished themselves in one of these four freedoms. The list of winners is impressive: Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The award is a call to the world to be aware of the importance of the four freedoms.

Thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt, the four freedoms were incorporated into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was ratified by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Next year it will be 75 years since. Even in our time, they are still not self-evident. Every day we see images of hunger, poverty and wars, of domestic violence and femicide, decline in biodiversity, irreparable climate damage, human rights violations of Uighurs, Tibetans, Palestinians, etc. and violations of animal rights. Sometimes it’s hard to keep believing in the impossible. We wish, no we must continue to believe in a world where the redemption and liberation of all living beings, even the smallest grass and plant, will become a reality.

It is the first vow of the bodhisattva, and it starts in the places close to home, said Eleanor Roosevelt in 1958 at the celebration of the 2nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “It starts in the small places close to home, so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any world map. It starts in the world of ordinary people; in the place where your life takes place, in the neighborhood where you live; the school you attend and the place where you work. It starts with us, because if these rights are not given the importance they should have in those places, then they will have little importance elsewhere.”

It is virtually identical to Black Elk’s words[4] from 1948 about Peace in our hearts[5]. Black Elk was a great seer and medicine man of the Oglala Lakota (Indians). It is a text that is dear to me:

“The first peace, which is most important,
is the peace that settles in the hearts of people like them
realize their interconnectedness
their being one with the universe and with all cosmic forces
and when they realize it,
at the center of that universe
the great mystery, Wakan Tanka, lives on
and that this center is really everywhere;
it exists in all of us.
It is true peace and
the others are just a reflection of it.

The second is the peace between two people and
the third, the peace between the nations.

But first of all you must understand,
that there can never be peace between nations,
for true peace is known,
which exists only in the hearts of all men.”

Native Americans express a prayer that is in line with this. The prayer is addressed to Wakan Tanka, the great mystery where we can also read: the eternal, the divine or as in Buddhism: the heart spirit of the whole universe, which comes to life in us in our true nature: it is Wisdom beyond all wisdom. The prayer reads as follows:

Teach me to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition,
my inner wisdom, the senses of my body,
the blessings of my spirit.
Teach me to trust these things,
so I can enter my sacred space and love,
beyond all fear, (Here Dahrani resonates from the Great Compassionate)
and so on balance can go the way with
the sun’s daily glorious walk around the earth.

Text Elsbeth Wolf.

[1] Solstice in 2022 took place on December 21 at 21.48

[2] Taitetsu Unno in Two Rivers. 1998.

[3] The Roosevelt family emigrated from Tholen in Zeeland, Holland, to New York in the seventeenth century.

[4] John G. Neihardt. 1932. Black Elk Speaks.

[5] Text from a speech by Black Elk. 1948

Sitting in connection / 31 December 2022

Leave a Comment