Jean Marie Gunner

Jean Marie Gunner
We are all basically good.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christ and The Buddha -- True Oneness through Loss and Emptiness


 

“Treasure what you have and when it is gone be happy that you had it.”

Kailen Bittner

 

I am sitting in my car which is parked on the shore of Lake Erie.  I can see the land jutting out to the south of me and the windmills in the town I grew up, Lackawanna, their counterclockwise spinning generating clean energy that is being harvested for the families in my hometown.

I grew up here on the edge of this waking world. Buffalo feels to all my senses as a community that is coming awake, enlightening in the first part of this 21st century.  The wind farm, urban food farms, refugees from Burma and Somalia and Bhutan transforming our cityscape with their food and farms and spiritual lives, local food and farmer’s markets, grassroots action and mindfulness community growing.   And yet, I sit here with a hollow and raw human heart freshly wounded by the madness of one young man and wonder why. What could have brought him to this point of insanity to massacre so many children?  Was it something we as a society are creating?  How can we change collectively to ameliorate this senseless violence?

My mind feels numb, my heart feels the agony inflicted, and these are not even my children, this is not my boys’ school, I knew no one from Newtown, at least I didn’t think so until this morning when I awoke early on what is my youngest son’s 12th birthday, and I picked up my phone to check Facebook and see that I do indeed know someone from there.  A Facebook friend and mother also interested in creating a good and healthy world for her children had just moved out of that very town two years ago, and her children had attended that very school.  My 14 year old son told me only a couple days ago that we are mathematically separated by a mere six degrees of separation on this earth as long as the person is not living a remote, completely off the digital grid, or Bedouin existence. 

As news of this traumatic loss of truly the most innocent of life sunk in and met me at my core, I realized that if I moved into the sadness, I could and needed to feel the moms’ and dads’ grief, that there is no separation, that the separation has always been an illusion.  I also realized listening to our President speak that I had never heard a US President before cry publicly, never in my 47 years on this earth, as a proud and dignified United States citizen, had I felt the utter woundedness of a US President so palpably.  I was grateful for his tears, for his humanity touching mine. Either you love and feel your heart and go there to that place that you feel and it is hard, or you fear and you shut it all down, close it all up tight, fix on a point and hope it will never change, that you will never move off that spot.  President Obama bravely felt it and expressed it; his tears spoke for all of us. This is bravery coupled with gentleness, a 21st Warrior with Heart has emerged as an example for us all. 

A whole bunch of young children and their teachers gone from our world, plucked out of our world because someone’s spirit and soul were sick.  Why so sick?  Why living in such darkness, and ignorance and fearfulness?  We must ask these questions, we must delve in deeply to the place of darkness and shadow so we can answer these questions intelligently and meaningfully, so we can take sensible action that will make a difference, so we are not, goddamn it, asking this question in another six months.  It is time for us to stand up collectively in a national united embrace and change things.  We should all be gathering today in a community place, entering the silence together, holding one another, embracing and loving each other, and settling for a world that is creating peace in our hearts and in our minds and in our families and in our schools and in our neighborhoods and in our nation and in our world.

The mindless and heartless death of yesterday should all be hallowed deaths; deaths that help move our collective hearts forward to stop gun violence and the easy access to ridiculous rounds of ammunition.  I am not a lawmaker or policy person, but I am a mom, I am intelligent, I am a human, I am a citizen of this great nation, and I will not stand for this any longer.  I challenge us all to wake up, to gather together, to meditate together, to contemplate with grace our basic humanity and goodness, and then to give our President and our representatives and lawmakers in Congress the mandate to make change that makes a difference, so we are not wondering again in the near future, why.

I am not against the 2nd amendment, but I know the balance has tipped, we live in a culture of violence from movies, to video games that glorify violence, to access to guns and military-style artillery.  And the access to such destructive power just is too available if someone wants to inflict such violence.

I only know that as I began this essay sitting in my car last evening as the sun was setting, staring out over the vast lake with cloud formations turning above me and colors beginning to mute and darken to soft heather grays with oranges tucked behind the winter mix of clouds, that my heart was with the families in their devastating grief.  The gulls flew over heading for some unknown point on the distant horizon, all lined up and knowing.  Now we humans know this weekend will begin a period of mourning nationally.  The holidays will be impossibly hard, the suffering from the wound so raw and recently inflicted.

Then we will meet, hearts and minds unified, and we shall act to change things, in our own hearts and minds, in our own families and schools and communities, and in Congress.

Having this week struggled with my exhaustion from familial frustrations, I awoke on December 14th to fix scratch brownies at 5:30 a.m. for Aidan, my soon-to-be twelve year old. I said a little mindfulness chant to awaken my confidence, and stirred baker’s chocolate and butter, realizing that the irritants of the week had were no longer in my mind.  That I am not those irritations.  I am not that anger.  I am a being ever changing and sometimes struggling but aspiring to open further and further and further to my world and circumstances.  To feel my world on the most basic gut and heart places.  I stirred and added compassion to these brownies, these compassion brownies.

I went over to my son’s school during first period to decorate his locker for his birthday today, with his favorite colored wrapping paper, red, and a Sponge Bob helium balloon.  As I was leaving his school and saying goodbye and thank you with my bag of leftover wrapping paper, and ribbon, and scissors, and tape, for some reason it occurred to me that it is very easy to access a school.  It was a fleeting thought, and yet only a half an hour later was this madness happening in Newtown.

I called this essay Christ and Buddha because they are both my teachers.  They have been with me my entire life.  Both of them, side by side, residing in my heart going back to my childhood.  They are my friends, my confidants, my cheerleaders, my roots. Christ by ancestral lineage and Buddha by association from a lifetime of dreams and visions and a long ago past.  I call on them now and offer to them my devastatingly dripping heart of sorrow and sadness amidst my human blood and feeling.  I offer to them all that I am and give back all that I am to my world.  I offer to my sisters and brothers and their babies my essence.  I place my heart of sadness tenderly and presently next to yours.  In truth I am you.  And I have never been anything else.

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