Taking Responsibility for All Life
Our world is at risk; we are the world. The renowned humanist Vaclav Havel (Czech playwright, essayist, poet and dissident, ]the ninth and last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic) once said that morality means taking responsibility, not only for our own life, but for all life. Martin Luther King expressed it as our being “tied together in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
The image of the lotus in muddy water is iconic in Buddhist literature as the symbol of transformation into awakening (lotus), from, and rooted in, the suffering or vicissitudes of this life (mud). This process of transformation includes cultivating radiant unselfishness and integrity, a state of mind and heart based on this interconnected worldview that is conducive to seeing “reality” clearly.
Seeing clearly means to see, at minimum, that we cannot and do not exist independently and thus the suffering of anyone is also ours. This wisdom conduces to the development of an engaged heart that wants the well being of all beings and acts accordingly.
This sense of the existence of the great web of life is activated through the experience of walking the Path: nurturing the capacity to see clearly (wisdom), acting in accordance with the deep aspiration toward radiant and inclusive unselfishness and integrity(ethics) and developing an interior life (meditation). We offer aligned ethical living as the gift of fearlessness to ourselves and our fellow beings—the confidence that we and they will not be harmed by our thoughts, words and deeds.