A Moral Revival

Apr 9th, 2019

Image copyright: Daria Nepriakhina

As a queer guy who recalls the days when the idea of “morality” was used by the religious right against queer folks starting with Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority”. This ownership of the ideas of morality by the religious right continues to this day. At least it use to be so. Thanks to Dr. William Barber and his reinvigoration of the MLK Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and adding the label of “A National Call for a Moral Revival”. Dr. Barber includes us queer folks as part of the owners of the revived morality.

This got me contemplating what this morality means for me as a queer, white, disabled, poor, educated US citizen? What is it to be committed to the morality of liberation? What does it mean in light of “saving all beings”?

I started with a list of what it is, I believe, a moral obligation in no particular order:

I feel that this is the start of a much needed conversation. The opening of truly living up to what it is we mean when we say American Dream. It is not a matter of political difference or even a difference of opinion. This is a moral necessity. We are currently living in a time not of difference of opinions or difference of policies but difference in morality. I am done arguing about, or defending morality. If you want to claim the moral high ground, then actually stand on the moral high ground. Your religion does not get to decide morality, nor anyone’s humanity. If we really want to find liberation, we must begin to understand that it only is experienced by moral activity.

Buddhism defines three parts of liberatory practice, Sila (moral activity), Samadhi (mindfulness) and Prajna (wisdom). We in the United States often focus on mindfulness practice and give only glancing blows at Sila and Prajna. This is of course not true of all lineages/traditions, nor is it not changing. I see more teachings regarding what it means to engage in moral activity, and it’s not just “engaged” Buddhisms, but more broadly. I can only encourage this action. Sitting meditation for 30 years, doesn’t have the transformative power of sitting 30 years, while also spending 30 years studying Buddhism, and also practicing moral activity. Being successful navigating institutional systems, doesn’t make you a teacher. Particularly if those institutional systems are perpetuating systems of oppression.

When we take our time on the cushion, our search for moral activity, and include the study of Dharma practically and academically; mixing it all into our lives… Hopefully we start to learn how to stand in our embodied location. We stand in our place, at each moment, and respond to what arrives appropriately. Liberation (enlightenment) becomes a verb that is practiced in each moment, from our being-timeness.


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