This morning, on the way to the zen center on my bicycle, I noticed that old, familiar tightening in my stomach that occurs when cars come too close, or ignore my safety, or do something I just “don’t like.” My practice when I notice this, or even beforehand if possible, is to chant the Jizo Dharani. Jizo Bodhisattva is, among other things, a protector figure for travelers (not a God per se, but a manifestation of Buddha energy in the world). As such, the chant is perfect for people on the go, and I have found it especially helpful in working with anger, fears, and violent energy that arrive during biking trips through the city.
It’s a simple chant: Om ka ka kabi san ma e sowa ka.
Easy to remember, and rhythmic enough to break through the muck that is arising. Sometimes, I chant it for an entire bike ride, and sometimes just for a few blocks. The original impetus, to stop getting so angry at careless drivers, has morphed into a deeper awareness of the very act of traveling brings up all kinds of challenging emotions and energies. And when I don’t pay attention to those energies and emotions, they get lodged in my body, and control my thinking. Arriving at work after an “unconscious” bike ride, for example, can bring on a depositing of negativity on co-workers or my students that didn’t need to occur. This is one way violence begins on a small scale. People dump on each other, or jump on each other in small ways, and over time it builds up. If those builds up go unexamined, and uncared for, violent outbursts can be the result. At an extreme level, people rape, torture, blow up things, and kill each other.
We need to develop, and/or utilize more strategies to break through that which leads to violence. Individually, this can be things like the Jizo chant, meditation, non-violent communication (NVC), and the like. On a collective level, more of us need to be willing to both resist the systemic -isms (racism, sexism, heterosexism, colonialism), and start building more alternative approaches to share resources, organize communities and be in right relationship with the planet.
You can start with yourself. Right now. Remember the practices of peace you already know and do them. Or seek to learn something new that will bring more peace into your experience.
How do you build peace in the world?
Bike flower by Jonathan Teixeira via Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.