Awakening to Kinship with all: New Year's Message 2021

Awakening to Kinship with All: New Year’s Message, 2021

Dear Friends and Sangha Members of our Maria Kannon Zen Community, Greetings and best wishes for the New Year 2021!

The global pandemic Covid 19 continues to ravage our global family, cutting, across national, geographical, and other kinds of boundaries. This pandemic could be an occasion for our human community to transcend our tribalistic attitudes and find solidarity in our common plight against this pervasive threat to our lives, inspiring us to go beyond our self-imposed boundaries in seeking to care for one another. However, on the other hand, sad to say, the pandemic can, and does, in effect, also heighten the inequities among us and further bolster the divisions that already set us apart.

At this time I take inspiration from the Dalai Lama, who suggests that at the heart of each of the authentic religions of the world is a message of Love. This is also what our shared practice of sitting meditation in Zen allows us to discover: that at the core of each of us, is a heart pulsing with love and compassion for all beings. Our hectic self-absorbed lives tend to prevent us from seeing this, but our practice of stillness helps our mind to see with a bit more clarity, to realize that we are all connected with all beings, in a deep karmic bond of Kinship and Love. It is the activation of this Love in our day to day lives, based on our realization of this kinship, that will bring to us the greatest joy, the deepest satisfaction and true fulfilment as human beings.

Spiritual practice that puts us in touch with the innermost core of our being, thereby opening our hearts to our intimate kinship with each and everyone in the universe, enables us to overcome a self-preoccupied, tribalistic mindset, and instead live in the light of the vision of the kinship of us all. The heart and mind of one so awakened to this kinship is conveyed by a well-known line from the early Buddhist treatise On Lovingkindness (Mettā Sutta): As a mother would give her life to protect her child, her only child, have this boundless heart in you toward all beings. The realization of this all-inclusive and intimate kinship in a truly experiential way will inevitably affect the personal, social, political, economic, ecological, and all dimensions of our being, and bring about a palpable and effective transformation of our global society. We can start right here, right now, with this renewed resolve to persist in our shared practice of cultivating stillness on a regular basis, on our own, and together as a sangha.

With our MKZC co-teachers, Helen, Valerie, Maria, and Lois, I continue to hold you in my heart, with deep gratitude for your ongoing friendship and support, and for joining us in walking together in this spiritual path of Zen.

With deep bows, and palms joined,

Ruben L.F. Habito Guiding Teacher, Maria Kannon Zen Sangha

January 2021

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