Saturday, March 27th, Zen Peacemakers International joined with EON Zen Center, Boulder Zen Center, Denver Zen Center, Rocky Mountain Ecodharma, Shambhala, Great Mountain Zen Center, and several additional Front Range dharma centers for a bearing witness memorial in Boulder’s Central Park. 150 to 200 came together to honor those local neighbors killed in the Monday March 22nd shooting in South Boulder.
After reading the names of those we lost, we sat meditation for an hour, ringing the large brass bell every six minutes.
EON Zen Center’s Founding Teacher, Paul Gyodo Agostinelli, Sensei shared:
“Thank you for joining this Meditation Memorial. It is five days (to the hour almost) that 10 of our community members, our brothers and sisters, were killed a few miles from this spot.
Today we bear witness to the lives we have lost, to the pain of their families, and to the ongoing grief of our community.
We bear witness to our confusion in the face of such senseless violence, and the anger we feel that this form of violence continues throughout our society.
In one of our old Zen chants, we say “within light there is darkness but do not try to understand that darkness.” In bearing witness we don’t try to make sense of this terrible tragedy. We simply refuse to turn away. In not turning away, may our love and wisdom grow.
In Buddhism we recognize the ways we all suffer by virtue of being human: we all grow old, get ill, and die.
Yet we also recognize the distinction between these forms of suffering, and the additional suffering we create through the actions of the three poisons: greed, hostility and ignorance. Greed encompasses all our self-centered ways, hostility encompasses the aggressions we perpetuate towards our selves and others, individually and through our institutions, and ignorance encompasses all of our willful denials and perpetuation of half-truths and untruths.
It is imperative that we recognize the distinction between the suffering OF our human natures and the suffering created BY our human natures.
Today we bear witness to these truths:
While there is nothing that we can do about death. there is much we can do about killing.
While there is little we can do about illness but there is much we can do to take care of our sick.
While there is nothing we can do about our greedy natures there is much we can do about our greedy actions.
While there is little we can do about our tendencies toward ignorance there is much we can do about our tendency to lie.
While there is nothing we can do ABOUT our anger but there is much we can do WITH our anger.
As time passes, our feelings will shift. That is natural and good. We pray for healing for those who have suffered trauma, and we ask courage of ourselves that we may not forget the pain and love we feel now.
We don’t bear witness so that we can “move on.”
In bearing witness we ensure the life that does move on, that is always moving on, includes these things….. those we have lost, our tenderness, our sorrow, and our love.
Thank you again for bearing witness together today. May our hearts remain open and may our vulnerability unite us.”
The Colorado sky was blue, the sun shone brightly and the air was crisp and still. We sat together and shared our sadness and grief, holding everyone and everything in our hearts, praying for healing.
New buds on the hardwoods are not showing yet, but we are sure they are coming.
-Geoff Shōun O’Keeffe