Bell Hooks wrote, “If I were really asked to define myself, I wouldn’t start with race; I wouldn’t start with blackness; I wouldn’t start with gender; I wouldn’t start with feminism. I would start with stripping down to what fundamentally informs my life, which is that I’m a seeker on the path. I think of feminism, and I think of anti-racist struggles as part of it. But where I stand spiritually is, steadfastly, on a path about love.”
A path about love… This was the point I think for The Buddha. His was a path of love. His years of hardship and deprivation were about love of other sentient beings; his wish to relieve us all of our suffering – all beings for all time. He said, “I teach one thing and one thing only, suffering and the end of suffering.” He had the idea that if he could find the answer for himself then he could give it to everyone and we could all be free. He continually taught that the path to greater happiness is not the self-centered thought, but the other-centered thought. Not in a co-dependent way but in an altruistic way. The question is not “How can I take care of you?” but rather “How can I be of benefit to you?” Even our meditation practice is for the benefit of all sentient beings. Our wish is to relieve all beings of their suffering. We know some things innately that are true: we are connected; we are all creating this reality together; and that we are responsible for one another. So, with our open heart of love, we sit and breathe.