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January 13, 2021

Statement on the January 6 attack on the U.S. Congress


The impact of the January 6 siege on Congress by a mob incited by the President of the United States continues to reverberate throughout the nation. San Francisco Zen Center condemns the violence that was perpetrated, mourns the loss of lives, and bears witness to the alarm, dismay, and anguish arising from the attack. Disagreements and protests are valid aspects of a free and open dialogue in a democracy; violence and intimidation are not.  

These recent attempts to subvert our democracy have been shocking and heartbreaking. They also highlight the stark contrast between the treatment of the predominantly White rioters and the protesters who assembled in support of Black lives over this past year. The roots of this inequity are found in the history of racism and injustice in the U.S., and are directly tied to the hatred and white supremacy that fueled last week’s insurrection.

We call upon our leaders to hold those responsible for the events of January 6 fully accountable. And we further call upon ourselves and our nation to understand, atone for, and redress the four centuries of emotional, economic, and physical harm done to Black, Indigenous, Brown, Asian and other marginalized people. 

In the opening verses of the Dhammapada, Shakyamuni Buddha taught, “Hatred does not end through hatred. By non-hate alone does it end. This is an ancient truth.”  Buddhist teachings support us to develop the courage and resilience to meet each moment with a clear mind and a compassionate heart, without being consumed by anger or despair. 

Maintaining a steadfast and upright practice is the path of liberation–not

just for ourselves but for all beings–and a way for us to heal in this time of great mental and physical dis-ease. As a community, together we can explore how to work skillfully with strong emotions, offer deep presence to each other in the midst of our pain, and discover how practice and sangha are a refuge.

May we ceaselessly work together to create and maintain an awakened and compassionate society and system of governance for the benefit of all beings.  

With bows,

San Francisco Zen Center Leadership 

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To support each other in practice during this difficult time, San Francisco Zen Center continues to offer the online zendo and Dharma talks, as well as twice weekly online sangha sessions with the Abbot, Abbess, and guest leaders (Thursday and Sunday). These offerings are free of charge and open to everyone.

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