Typically speaking when someone speaks of Buddhism in the United States, they are speaking of a cultural movement that has brought to this continent ancient Indian, East and Southeast Asian, and Tibetan spiritual teachings and practices. For the first time in history, these teachings have arrived in a land that is racially heterogeneous. This Spiritual practice is spreading its’ roots like a tree sitting on a concrete sidewalk, pushing down through that solid surface which is a society that was founded, by a white majority, on the unwholesome seeds of colonialism, genocide and slavery. In this meeting of the tree Buddhism and the concrete surface of resistance and fear, the values of community, interdependence, and collaboration come face-to-face with the values of the pursuit of individualism, self-interest and competition. Deep bow meets handshake.
Martin Luther King ran into much of the same struggles when he stood up and spoke of his speech about having a dream – August 28, 1963. It wasn’t just his speech was the deep bow which was meeting the handshake of white racially heterogeneous America, yet it wasn’t just his speech that had Dr. King cracking concrete sidewalks and pushing forward with new roots to break out and grab hold for future generations, yes he called for an end to racism in the United States, but it was also how he lived his life!
Dr. King has been associated with and compared to Moses, as well as, Joshua by Duke Ellington. Much like these two others that he has been associated with, Martin Luther King, Jr. never shied away from controversy. he faced controversy with strength and will power that some said came from above through him. Whether it was an issue of civil rights, poverty or the war in Vietnam, he had a vision of a world of peace and equality, and he was never afraid to talk about it.
To me Dr. Martin Luther King is the one of the few people who truly stands for Diversity and for US of A! He is the one (or one of many) who plowed the way for those of us who are welcoming the tree of spiritualism called Buddhism with soil welcoming for the new roots. He also opened the door for today’s Inauguration speech.