On August 6th, protestors gathered at Lawrence Livermore Weapons Lab in California to mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb vaporizing the civilian population of Hiroshima. They drew chalk outlines on the ground for the human bodies that were burned into shadows.
Thirty-five years earlier, on Ash Wednesday, 1980, I stood with Robert McAfee Brown, Daniel Ellsberg, Daniel Berrigan, and others outside UC-Berkeley’s administration building to protest the university’s involvement in developing nuclear weapons at Lawrence Livermore. A group would go up to the 11th floor and sit until they were arrested.
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." - Mother TeresaTweet It!
We were students and faculty from the seminaries on Holy Hill in Berkeley. Standing next to us were Buddhist nuns from Japan who belonged to the Lotus Sutra sect. With shaved heads and dressed in white cloaks with orange sashes, they quietly chanted, “Namu myoho renge kyo,” and beat on drums with a steady cadence.
They use drums because 700 years ago their founder, Nichiren, believed it helped build community. Unable to make zazen “sitting” meditation work for him, he sent his monks out of the temple to walk the roads and help others. He gave each monk a drum to beat as a way of meeting people and starting conversations. The six-count beat has a half note after the sixth, and evolved out of the rhythm of walking. The drum beating is also a meditative device, and each beat sends the drummer’s soul-energy to the hearts of others.
During World War II, and after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nichidatsu Fujii added a specific anti-war edge to the drum beating that would last “until all wars stop, and every land turns into an earthly paradise covered by tranquility."
For hours we stood on the sidewalk in the rain with the nuns, waiting for the police line to advance and arrest or disperse us. The sound of the drums was soft, but persistent. The presence of the nuns was unobtrusive. They bowed to each person passing by as a way of showing respect to all beings. The bowing was inviting, and others joined our group. The nuns with their drums did as much as our singing, pouring blood on the pillars, and nonviolent civil disobedience.
I asked my friend Yuri Morita, a Catholic-Buddhist, how we would know when peace had come. Yuri said quietly, “We will know.”
Mark Liebenow’s work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and named a notable essay by Best American Essays 2012. His account of hiking in Yosemite to deal with grief, Mountains of Light, was published by the University of Nebraska Press.
Begin your day feeling grounded and inspired.
A free 30-day email series where we share the most impactful stories and ideas that have helped us on our journey to live a more meaningful life.
✌️ Free. Unsubscribe anytime.
“I’m in the midst of big life transitions at the moment, chasing book deals, relocating, taking risks, carving out a life that feels honest, so your emails have been a perfectly timed source of inspiration and reassurance.” Jo in London, Great Britain
"Love the emails! They are a great reset or what I would call mindful chiropractic adjustment to approaching the day. Thank you!" Laurie in Albuquerque, New Mexico
"I love the emails. They give me a new perspective and things to think about and apply in my life." Monica in Johannesburg, South Africa
"It's food for the soul and sets my spiritual compass in the right direction." Farahdiva Samsul in Assam, India
"Absolutely LOVE the daily emails. One of the only email subscriptions I read daily. Keep them coming!!" Adriana in New York, New York
"The emails are thought-provoking and uplifting. A little pause from the crazy happenings of modern life. A quick chance to reflect, smile, and think about a life lived mindfully." Pharan in Queensland, Australia
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the Mindfully Mailed series. Daily I await this little nugget of goodness to hit my inbox each day." Tambria in Shreveport, Louisiana
Welcome to Holstee
Living with intention is an ongoing practice, not a destination. Inspired by this, we’ve created a range of products to help you on your journey to live both fully and mindfully, including the Holstee Membership, Reflection Cards, and our recently-launched Reflection.app.
This article is part of our series on the theme of .EXPLORE →
Inspiration and tools to help you live a more meaningful life.VISIT THE SHOP →