Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The new trinity: not knowing, bearing witness, taking action


"In our work we have three basic tenets that come right out of Buddhist training. First, when we enter into the political world, we enter from a standpoint of not knowing. We don't enter with a solution in mind, we enter with a deep listening and an open space. The second tenet is bearing witness, fully knowing the situation we are in. And the third tenet is taking action."

Bernie Glassman, Mindful Politics, p. 78

Bernie Glassman is a Buddhist Roshi and from his Buddhist tradition he also describes the UU approach to community life.

UUs also encourage a not knowing stance when we encourage a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth in our congregations, and the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.

Further, Glassman's second tenet is bearing witness, and UUs believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.

Thirdly, Glassman says that after listening with an attitude of not knowing, and bearing witness, people have to take action, and UUs work toward the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all, and respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Even though UUs have rejected trinitarian theology when it comes to the conception of God, I like Glassman's suggestion of a trinity when it comes to not knowing, bearing witness, and taking action.

In the Christian tradition it was James who said that faith without works is dead. An interior life must give rise to an external life. Any person who says that he loves God but hates his brother is a liar. Any person who has all the answers and can't listen to his brother and sister is full of pride and arrogance. Any person who can't face reality because he/she is so caught up in ideology so that they live in denial and ignorance, is doomed to hell on earth.

The Unitarian Universalist faith like Buddhism does not turn away from suffering but acknowledges that it is part of human life. Unitarian Universalism acknowledges that the way out of suffering is detachment from credal beliefs and love for one another. Unitarian Universalism encourages certain practices the greatest of which is love for our fellow human beings and for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

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