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Courage in the face of crisis

Posted on 3 May 2020

Courage in the face of crisis

Kagyu Samye

Dzong London

Weekly newsletter 3/5/20

Welcome to the first newsletter of May. As the lockdown drags on I'm sure that everyone finds themselves being tested in different ways. Speaking for myself there are times when I recognise frustration, impatience, tension, anxiety and it would be all too easy to allow these things to take up more than their fair share of space in my mind. However that only leads to one result, which isn't good!  

This week we have two articles on qualities that can benefit all of us. Lama Zangmo writes about courage, while Sarah writes about slowing down - something which can require real courage to do, even when it's forced on us! 

To find out more, just read on...  

Best wishes,

David Bates
Newsletter Editor

1 - Courage in the Face of Crisis

Lama Zangmo writes: 
"During this time of the virus, we see and hear so many positive stories of courage, kindness and generosity, often shown by complete strangers. It is uplifting and inspiring and makes it clear that more than anything we all value and respond to gestures of caring and kindness. We all want the world to be a better place.

In the recent beautiful teaching given by His Holiness 17th Gyalwang Karmapa on Green Tara, he mentioned that our problem is not that there aren't enough loving people in the world, nor that we lack compassion. Instead it is that we need to develop more courage, and we need inspiration from others, such as Green Tara and the practice.

In the teachings on courage it is said that we should be like a lion that can't be harmed by a fox. A lion is a very powerful animal, the king of the jungle, and a fox would be no match for him. We should try to develop and cultivate this type of confidence, so that we can be of benefit to others and make the world a better place. With courage we can also cope when we are challenged, and we can adapt to changes. Our mind becomes so strong that it can defend and protect itself from any danger.

The middle of the jungle could be anywhere - your workplace; or being at home with your family - wherever you tend to feel most challenged. Since these days we are in lockdown and cannot go out, then your home becomes the jungle, without the external threats. In the jungle there would be danger from behind, danger in front, danger from above, danger from below; tigers, snakes, scorpions - all sorts.

When it comes to our mind, our inner jungle, it is different. The dangers and problems out there - the people you work with or the noisy neighbours or even the fact that you have to stay at home - they are just the triggers. We need courage and inspiration to deal with the internal danger. If we forget and lose our mindfulness, then we risk being attacked by the enemy of negative thinking, the wild beast of selfish tendencies and the poisonous sting of disturbing feelings.

The world will become a better place if we inspire ourselves by the positive actions of others, and make sure that the time after lockdown will not just be business as usual. What if we all have the courage to raise money for the NHS and those in need? What if we all do our bit for the environment? What if we all share with others what we have in excess? That alone would be worth the price of the lockdown.

We need the courage to make the changes that we have all seen are possible in how we go about our daily lives, so that we don't pollute and poison the very earth we depend on. We need to recognise that real solutions and positive change come through acts of kindness and generosity, and not through selfish greed. Each of us needs to develop the courage of a lion, a Bodhisattva who works for the benefit of others."

2 - Slowing down


"Building a society or a life based on greed is a recipe for dissatisfaction, plain and simple" ~ HH the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Tinley Dorje, in his book "The Heart is Noble" 
Sarah writes...
This Wednesday marked the end of our Earth Week, with a beautiful post by Sarah Wyndham Lewis from Bermondsey Street Bees (at the bottom of the Earth Week page on our blog). Our Earth Week is a platform for different personal stories and sustainable tips from people and organisations connected to London Samye Dzong and South East London. The variety of ideas that were posed expressed all the different ways in which we can adjust our lifestyles to reduce our impact on the planet.

Looking at my personal habits, it is inspiring to see how many small changes I can make, and the positive impact these can have. However, to be completely honest, there is some serious resistance for these shifts. The temptation to still quickly buy packaged fruit and vegetables, or a very cheap jacket that I will only wear a few times but looks so good; or flying home and here and there too often, is still extremely strong. That's why I thought this quote is so helpful. It helps us see how whenever we unnecessarily consume, dissatisfaction will follow, full stop, end of story. 

Being quite a frenetic person with lots of energy, I found the idea of life slowing down to actually be a little bit daunting. In a strange way I also feared dissatisfaction from the world momentarily pausing its crazy movement and busyness. Yet, with time, I have found such appreciation and gratitude for the simpler activities. At the centre we have been busy cleaning courtyards and flower beds, stuffing cushions and having daily practice sessions with everyone. Being able to sit down and enjoy a meal with friends and not being in a rush has helped to at least bring a certain satisfaction for everything that was already there. There are so many aspects of life, family, friends and nature to name a few,  that we don't need to "buy" or "update".  And not only are these parts of our daily experience sources of satisfaction, joy and gratitude, but we don't need to consume or add harm to our world to feel the full impact of them.