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Paramitas: Living Well and Doing Good

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By Jon Sievert

In these turbulent times, many of us are asking how we can get a higher perspective on life that helps us figure out meaning, purpose, and direction? How do we decide who we want to be?” At this week’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship service, the Rev. Louise Green discusses a Buddhist framework for engaged social action in a sermon entitled “Ordinary Bodhisattvas.”

Rev. Green looks at a Buddhist concept called the Paramitas, 10 transcendental virtues that offer a way to focus on living well and doing good. Also called the Bodhisattva Code, the Paramitas invite humans to be their most loving selves, connecting to a heart of compassion that wants the best for all creatures. The Bodhisattva vow is to work in this lifetime and beyond toward the ultimate liberation of all beings. Even if their own enlightenment is reached, Bodhisattvas are said to stay present to encourage others to keep going in transformation.

Drawing from the book, Buddha Is As Buddha Does by the American teacher Lama Surya Das, Rev. Green explores how complex global times call for strong and effective action. When powerful negative systems propose dominance based on race, class, gender, and other identities, the need for operating systems based on equality and human kindness is urgent. Asked how to meet the personal and communal challenges of the twenty-first century, the Dalai Lama said, “Human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family, or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind.”

In Buddhism, this engaged Bodhisattva way is considered the birthright of every human being. It is not the path of special saints, but of any person living into what is considered essential Buddha nature and the human potential for loving kindness. However, the Buddha also taught that wise attention towards cultivating this capacity is needed to counteract the disorientation and chaos of living. Rev. Green proposes that each person must identify their own operating system to be the most purposeful human being, dedicated to making effective change for the good of all.

Rev. Louise Green has been a community organizer and minister for more than 25 years. She lives in Washington, DC and is the Minister for Congregational Life at River Road UU Congregation in Bethesda. Rev. Green has also been both staff organizer and clergy leader with the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a network with 23 affiliates in the US and Europe (metro-iaf.org). She is a long-time practitioner of yoga and meditation as a means to be a more effective agent of transformation in the world. Service pianist is Paula Peace.

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30am at Posada de Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15, and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The room is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our website at uufsma.org.

 

UU Service

“Ordinary Bodhisattvas”

By Rev. Louise Green

Sun, Aug 27, 10:30am

Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15

Free

uufsma.org

 

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