It all began with Dhammapada, chapter one.
Something about the verse “only love dispels hate” intrigued Rev. Charama.
So he, like the Grinch in the classic children’s Christmas TV special, “puzzled and puzzled ’till [his] puzzler was sore.”
In other words, he sat with “only love dispels hate.”
For months…that stretched into years.
Along the way, Rev. Charama “puzzled” this verse from The Heart Sutra (Red Pine translation):
Therefore, Shariputra, without attainment,
bodhisattvas take refuge in Prajnaparamita
and live without walls of the mind.
Without walls of the mind and thus without fears,
they see through delusions and finally nirvana.
The phrase “walls of the mind” captivated Rev. Charama the same way “only love dispels hate” did.
Were the two phrases related in some fashion? If so, how?
Eventually, he saw it.
if hate is not dispelled by love it will lead to building mind walls.
What are mind walls?
Mind walls can be anything. But they are, most often, attachments – to concepts, which includes ideologies, beliefs, opinions, ideas, and preferences.
Consider politics. There’s likely no greater area in which attachment and bifurcation occur than in America’s political system. Republican/Democrat. Liberal/Conservative. Left/Right. Rich/Poor. Male/Female. Black/White.
In short, Us vs. Them – the classic formula for every conflict since the beginning of time.
Consider today’s activists. They would not exist apart from attachment to concepts (the stuff of the mind), ideologies, beliefs, opinions, ideas, and preferences. (Which is why Ven. Charama is a self-proclaimed non-activist, which does not mean he does nothing about anything. It means he is very, very, very careful not to take sides.)
In short, activists could not exist if there were no sides – one of which is an “us” and the other of which is a “them.”
It’s no surprise, therefore, that America continues to be an angry, violent nation. Polarization is de rigueur in our country. People are encouraged, perhaps even coerced, to join either the “us” side or the “them” side. On every issue. All the time.
We believe (as the Dhammapada does) that only love dispels hate.
And love doesn’t have an “us” or a “them.” It is an “us” or a “we.” No sides.
Also, we believe that dispelling hate starts with the hate in our own hearts. If we dispel the hate in ourselves, we can prevent mind walls. Without walls of the mind, and with a heart full of love, we can then love the world…and help make it a more loving place for all sentient beings.
That’s why we exist.
Only Love Zen Sangha is a school of love.
Now, we’ll be the first to admit that we don’t always live up to these aspirations. They will take a lifetime. But we do believe we’ve discovered a powerful way to overcome anger, bitterness, and hatred.
And we’d be glad to show you.
That’s why we started Only Love Zen Sanga. We want to offer a place to sit for the enrichment of our lives, as well as the betterment of our communities.
Care to join us? Contact us. We’ll talk.