Beloved Community

From The King Center:

“Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.”

-by local artist, Matt Berry (see Artwork for more)

We emphasize relational practices, rather than just individual meditation, such as deep listening, empathy, and dialogue. This is a way to connect the “inner and outer,” potentially leading to more effective peacebuilding strategies – and Sangha development. Reconciliation, which Dr. King referred to as “the aftermath of nonviolence,” is both a process and a goal, like: “peace by peaceful means” (Johan Galtung); “we make the road by walking” (Myles Horton & Paulo Freire); “we build the road and the road builds us” (Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement); and “peace is every step” (Thich Nhat Hanh). Therefore, rather than “achieving” reconciliation at some future time, we can start here and now, building more sustainable, durable, and resilient communities through relevant practices – with the help of spiritual friends (Pali: kalyana mitta).

To support our evolving community – during meetings, as practice for everyday living – we offer the following agreements from East Bay Meditation Center as basic guidance:

Agreements for Multicultural Interactions

  • “TRY IT ON: Be willing to “try on” new ideas, or ways of doing things that might not be what you prefer or are familiar with.
  • PRACTICE SELF FOCUS: Attend to and speak about your own experiences and responses. Do not speak for a whole group or express assumptions about the experience of others.
  • UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INTENT AND IMPACT: Try to understand and acknowledge impact. Denying the impact of something said by focusing on intent is often more destructive than the initial interaction.
  • PRACTICE “BOTH / AND”: When speaking, substitute “and” for “but.” This practice acknowledges and honors multiple realities.
  • REFRAIN FROM BLAMING OR SHAMING SELF & OTHERS: Practice giving skillful feedback.
  • MOVE UP / MOVE BACK: Encourage full participation by all present. Take note of who is speaking and who is not. If you tend to speak often, consider “moving back” and vice versa.
  • PRACTICE MINDFUL LISTENING: Try to avoid planning what you’ll say as you listen to others. Be willing to be surprised, to learn something new. Listen with your whole self.
  • CONFIDENTIALITY: Take home learnings but don’t identify anyone other than yourself, now or later. If you want to follow up with anyone regarding something they said in this session, ask first and respect their wishes.
  • RIGHT TO PASS: You can say “I pass” if you don’t wish to speak.

The world needs our practices, more mindfulness and compassion for dealing with the complexity of issues. Our hope is that we can grow and develop these relational practices, drawing upon the energy of our time, moving us closer to Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community.

For more on Beloved Community, see Brothers in the Beloved Community: The Friendship of Thich Nhat Hanh and Martin Luther King Jr. (Parallax Press, 2021).

“The Buddha, Shakyamuni, our teacher, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love. We desperately need love. And in the Buddha’s teaching we learn that love is born from understanding. The willingness to love is not enough. If you do not understand, you cannot love. The capacity to understand the other person will bring about acceptance and loving kindness. It is possible the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and lovingkindness, a community practicing mindful living. And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh, from “closing remarks to over two thousand people attending his Day of Mindfulness at Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California, in October 1993.”