The imperative "Resist!" has attached itself to those of us who are appalled as the ugliness of the Trump regime unfolds.
While resistance is an important step, positive balance is required for the long term. So I'm hoping that another imperative, "Rise," can be added to the equation in the weeks and months that follow: "Resist, then rise!"
And it's important that both the resistance and the rising come from the right place.
So here's some advice to begin a new week from Thay Phap Dung, a senior disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, offered in an interview last week with Eliza Barclay at Vox.
"We see the mind like a house, so if your house is on fire, you need to take care of the fire, not to go look for the person that made the fire. Take care of those emotions first; it’s the priority. Because anything that comes from a place of fear and anxiety and anger will only make the fire worse. Come back and find a place of calm and peace to cool the flame of emotion down."
"People are so convinced that anger and all this energy will produce change. But in fact it’s very destructive, because you’re opposing. Opposition wastes energy. It’s not healing.
"Emotions can be good. Passion can be good, and compassion is very passionate. But compassion doesn’t waste energy. It includes and it understands; it’s more clear.
"Engage in protest, but not from a place of anger. You need to express your opinion, and you need to go out there and say this is wrong. But don’t do it by saying hateful things."
"Go take refuge in nature, and find a cause where your heart doesn’t feel inactive and in despair. This is the medicine. We go out and we help. Don’t allow hate and anger to take over your world. Because there are other things happening.... But right now people in our family are still there, and they might need us. Our friend may be somebody who is being discriminated against. You can only be there to offer them that kindness if you are stable. You cannot help them if you are filled with hate and fear. What people need is your non-fear, your stability, solidity, clarity. This is what we can offer."
Thay Phap Dung is himself a refugee, born in Vietnam during 1969. He came to the United States at the age of 9 when his family found a new home in California. After graduating from the University of Southern California, he practiced architecture for four years, then entered a practice of another sort. He was ordained a monk during 1998. Formerly abbot of Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California, he has lived at Thich Nhan Hanh's Plum Village in France as a senior disciple for six years.
Finally, a little scripture for Sunday morning --- these words from The Dhammapada (v20) attributed to the Buddha: "All the holy words you read and all the holy words you speak are as nothing if you do not act upon them. Even if you read little and say little but live the right way, forsaking craving, hatred and delusion, you will know truth and find calmness and will show others the path."