Grounding My Love by Xochitl Alvizo

I love living in a second-story apartment. Having a view of Los Angeles, of the palm trees, the expansive sky, the distant mountains, and the city lights of downtown, makes life feel bigger, more full of possibilities. In the struggle of transitioning my life back to L.A., the view from my second floor apartment helps make me feel ok in the world. I’m in love with Los Angeles – the land, its topography, its sky, its desertness – and even its traffic. Beside the fact of sometimes being made to arrive late somewhere, I don’t mind being in our famed L.A. gridlocks – I don’t mind being in the slow moving flow of cars. I kind of enjoy being among the thousands of other folks sharing the collective experience of trying to get someplace. Traffic becomes for me a leisurely time when I get to do nothing else but enjoy the city.

Plus, the freeways – I love them! Have you ever driven on one of L.A.’s sky high on-ramps or carpool lanes? It’s like you get to fly. You get to be up in the sky among the top of the palm trees, with all the other cars and buildings off in the distant view. I would drive somewhere just to get onto one of our sky-high carpool lanes, I swear. Just recently I merged onto the carpool lane of the 110 North from an on-ramp I had not taken before, a magnificently long single-lane on-ramp that took me high up into the air, and I immediately thought, I need to remember this way so that I can drive it again sometime. Continue reading “Grounding My Love by Xochitl Alvizo”

Who is the Perpetrator? by Oxana Poberejnaia

A poem by Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, “Call Me By My True Names,” lists various situations from natural world and the world of humans, most of them to do with violence and death. He claims in the poem to be both: the victim and the perpetrator of violence.

This poem has always bothered me. I can understand a world perspective where you express solidarity with all the sufferers, but how to come to terms with identifying oneself with the oppressors and murderers?

At my current limited level of understanding of the Buddhist teaching I can only say that perhaps the words: “I am a rapist and a murderer” point to tendencies that are present in all of us. First and foremost it is a tendency to divide, to separate. The most noticeable separation is between the “I” and the “outside” world.

First we counter position ourselves against all the others. Next we start believing that it is possible to achieve happiness just for ourselves, at the expense of the others. So we live egotistically. From here, I suppose, there is only a small step to rape and murder.

Continue reading “Who is the Perpetrator? by Oxana Poberejnaia”

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