Spiritual Life takes Courage, and part of that is asking for help

Spiritual Life takes Courage, and part of that is asking for help December 23, 2016

My blogging life has been a bit quiet of late. This is despite the fact that I have some developing ambitions to write more and curate more wonderful writing from friends and strangers around the topics of Buddhism, meditation, and mindfulness. More on that in a moment.

If you missed it, my neighbor here in the Patheos Buddhist world and long-time facebook friend – I’m still hoping to get him up to Montana for a sermon at our local Unitarian Universalist fellowship – James Ford recently included American Buddhist Perspectives on his list of Favorite Zen Blogs (and a couple others). And following up on that, another great writer and friend, Lynette Monteiro of 108ZenBooks posted a wonderful brief reflection on James’ list and life in general.

In her post, Lynette offered a quote from Jack Kornfield that I’ll borrow here in full:

“Spiritual life takes courage : Equanimity is not indifference, and compassion is not pity. True spirituality  requires us to be fully present for life. For us to begin to look directly at the world situation is not a question of ceremony or of religion. Meditation helps us to look deeply at the sorrow that exists now in our world, and to look at our individual and collective relationship to it, to bear witness to it, to acknowledge it instead of running away. Without mindfulness and compassion the suffering is too great to bear. We close our minds. We close our eyes and our hearts.”

If there is one thing that I have been wonderfully amazed and heartened by in the wake of the Nov 8 election, it has been the courage that people have mustered to stand up for themselves and their communities. Just after the election, an ad hoc meeting was held here in Helena to address the concerns of citizens worried about a wide range of issues that will be facing us in the years to come. From that, six independent subgroups were formed, including the one I joined: Helena Area Mindful Religions (HAMR). Since then we’ve become a bit of a family, dedicated to working together across faith traditions toward justice and equity in our community.

Monday night we decided to go, as a group, to the Helena City Commission meeting where there was a discussion of removing discriminatory language from a city ordinance. You can read the local paper’s assessment of the meeting for details. For us it was just about showing up and being fully present for life. And life, in its fullest, includes those “others” who we sometimes don’t think about, but who are suffering injustice around us.

Sometimes those others are an identifiable group of our neighbors. Sometimes the ones suffering are us. And in our post-commission-meeting gathering we took time to witness our own continuing struggles.

That’s what I’ve been up to for much of the last 45 days.

That and teaching ethics at the local Catholic College as an adjunct. I declined an offer early in the semester to teach again in the spring. I’m done adjuncting. At least for now. You can read this, and this, and this entire site to find out a bit more about adjunct life. It’s not pretty.

Earlier in the year I came within inches of a full time teaching job – temporary but full time, which was to start next month. But the funding didn’t come through. So the job, and my springtime plans, evaporated. So it goes in academia. It’s not pretty.

So I’m left with some time.

I will be finishing edits on my PhD and a book chapter I’m working on with my good friend Doug Smith.

Beyond that, a lot is up in the air. Several possible projects will wait for a future post. But one that I’d appreciate your thought on now is seeking financial support from readers for this blog, sort of along the lines of Brain Pickings (an idea that was gifted to me by my friend Mary Valiakas over two years ago). My aim would be to use the support to devote more time to the blog, to seek out new and diverse perspectives on American Buddhism, and to shape and develop our understanding of what it means to be a Buddhist in 21st century America (and beyond).

You’ll see from the Guest Authors page that I’ve done a fair bit of work in broadening the scope of the blog to go beyond my own thoughts on various matters. I’d love to expand that still further. And, I’d love to be able to pay guest authors for their labor. However, that will take some support from readers (you). I have some ideas in mind about how to do this, but your input would be valuable in moving forward.

For now, let me very humbly put forth a patreon page I have created for this blog. There, you can pledge support for this blog at whatever level you prefer. If you feel that the blog has helped you in any way, perhaps contribute in the thought that it might help another.

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