Monday, July 14, 2008

The Serenity Prayer versus the Boddhisattva Vows

In a recent discussion with my sister, who has had more than a little exposure to the 12 Step variation of the Buchmanism cult, the issue of rather hateful, resentful relatives, and their racism, came up.

My sister opined that it's a "serenity prayer moment" - one of the things that can't be changed and therefore not in need of attention (almost said, "mindshare.")

I replied that even though that particular relative may never change, and indeed may stay in fear and suffering for eternity, we are still saddled with the responsibility to respond to hatred, even if that response is within ourselves. And that responsibility must be towards quenching the hatred.

That's why I don't have much use for the serenity prayer type thinking; it's not a question of separating one's self from that which cannot be changed - that's a sad illusion anyway. We. Are. Stuck.

It is however a question of how the lotus will bloom in the mud; how will we save sentient beings who are not only innumerable but don't give a damn about how much suffering is produced in the world. The way is unattainable, but we vow to attain it. Because we have suffering in need of quenching.

A "serenity prayer" is, to me, a highly unsatisfying and inadequate response to the wonderful opportunity to practice a koan.

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