May everyone have a happy Chotrul Duchen today...the Buddhist day of Miracles.
Approximatey 2400 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha completed many miracles to benefit all beings (this wish of benefit included you, all these years later!) I expect that there might be some more that you are wishing that he had added just for you...perhaps winning the lottery! But today all your actions and even your thoughts are multiplied millions of times over...the good ones and the negative ones. So perhaps you can hold a vision for your own miracles..but remember the key ingredient...to benefit all beings!
My vision today encompasses a wish of long life of great benefit for all. Why is this so much on my mind? In Arkansas, the execution dates have been set for eight of my friends on our death row. The executions of these eight people are scheduled to take place in just 10 days, beginning April 17 until April 27.
In history, executions were considered justice before science explained a great deal more about the causes of violence and how to safely protect ourselves from those who have committed violence. Of course, many in our justice system today who are given the death sentence are also subject to a system that suffers bias of racial and social identify, the inability of some to pay for excellent legal help, and of course, many on death row are actually innocent. We try to provide justice but we will always fail because we are flawed beings in a flawed system.
Even though all religions ask that we not kill others, we continue to offer justice in America (although we are one of the few countries in the world that do) that kills people to give comfort to the victims and to all of us. I do not want any killings done in my name. I know these eight men. Twenty years ago as I visited the Arkansas prisons, I met weekly with these eight friends - Bruce, Don, Stacey, Ledell, Jack, Marcel, Kenneth, and Jason. Although I haven't seen them in a while (because of my health issues), I still get letters and exchange cards with them. Back then, we had long talks about the horrific circumstances that caused their incarceration...but also about the horrific life events that planted the seeds for those circumstances. And we talked of their pain, sadness and, with each one, we touched the compassion in their hearts that wished to do good things for others. In 2017, they are different people than they were then. To live in a state that says it will put them to death for 'our' peace asks us to truly examine this premise of justice.
Today, on Chotrul Duchen, I will begin the walk to the death chamber with my eight friends and offer an invitation to you to come along...bringing compassion and awareness to all beings everywhere with every step. Each day, I would like to take a step through that door via the gift of social media. Perhaps with enhanced attention to this unfolding mass execution, and in writing letters to the governor and Arkansas representatives, we might bring about an end to the death penalty everywhere...or at least save these eight lives.
May you receive the miracles that you need to be happy, peaceful, and awaken to living compassion for all beings everywhere, with no one left out.