“There was a sense, not unlike in our present times, that something deeply consequential was being set in motion.”
These days it has become increasingly important to find ways to not only deepen our own meditation and mindfulness practice, but also to find ways to take our practice into the world for the benefit of all beings. Chris Fortin and Lee Lesser found themselves at a similar challenging moment in history and they turned to their own practices and experiences to offer the world healing and compassion.
â€œLee and I cofounded Veteran’s PATH during the early years of the Iraq wars. There was a sense, not unlike in our present times, that something deeply consequential was being set in motion that would affect our children and our children’s children and the nation and the world going forward and far into the future.
“With only a deep faith in the simple offerings of practice and our experience of the value of supportive sangha/community, we began to reach out to young veterans returning from the wars so that they wouldn’t be left alone to carry the weight and trauma of war for all of us. Beyond any of our imaginings, eight years later the organization has become a refuge of healing and support for many veterans, and is poised to reach out into other communities across the country.”
Lee puts it in her own words:
“Sharing practice was the inspiration to begin working with veterans. When we bombed Iraq, I wanted to do something. There is so much I cannot change. I don’t believe I can ever stop human beings from going to war, though I wish I could.Â But I wanted to do something and what I had to offer was the practice I rely on. I didn’t know if veterans would be interested, but I trusted that if they were, it would be of benefit.
“They have been interested, and they have helped us grow and develop Veteran’s PATH over the last eight years.”
Chris and Lee found ways to bring their deepest intentions to life in the form of action that benefits all of us, much like the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra teaches. In what ways can each of us take our own practice into the world?
This year-end, weâ€™re inspired by Samantabhadra to explore how to take practice off the cushion and into the world. We hope stories like Chrisâ€™s and Leeâ€™s will inspire you, too. To see more and make a year-end donation to San Francisco Zen Center, please visit www.sfzc.org/yearend.