Is it possible to be on no side?

Is it possible to be on no side?

A Letter from Nava, Muda Center,* Israel

I am writing to you as my dear friends and also important supporters of Muda Center and of its activity.

As you probably read and hear, we are experiencing very hard times in our region. So much suffering, so much ignorance. From all directions.  

As practitioners of mindfulness and Buddhism this requires deep practice. The automatic reaction is to divide everything into wrong and right. But this is still ignorance. A deeper practice is needed.

I copy below a poem written by Yaakov Raz, one of Israel's leading contemplative scholars, a Zen senior teacher and one of Muda's founders. This poem reminds me about the deeper practice of compassion, compassion that I hardly see around me these days. This makes me very sad. Also my most Leftist friends have so much impatience and hatred in their voices. There are not better than those that run for battle in Gaza.

As I see it, this is the result of a long path of  ignorance, of Mindlessness, of a blurred consciousness, of a misunderstanding of what is deep compassion.

And after I sit with my deep despair, I realize that this is why Muda Center is so important. I truly believe that only development of mindfulness, of awareness, of a clear consciousness, of compassion, of positive qualities of Mind in the Israeli society and in the neighboring societies, something can start to change here. And Muda Center has an important role because we come with the Neuroscience and the research. We can impact public opinion as no one has succeeded before, because of the important work of Richie, Jon, Mark and so many other people that show this is not "new-age" talk.

I felt a need to write, because each one of you had a very big contribution to our efforts to bring this spirit into Israeli Society. There is much work to be done, but I feel an important movement has begun, the wheel is turning, and your active support has contributed to it tremendously.  I feel the need to acknowledge this at this point.

I send my Love and deep gratitude


PS. (we have recently received news the HH the Dalai Lama has accepted to come to Israel in 2016. If this will indeed happen, I believe this will have a significant impact.  We hope to hold a "mind-and-life-type" conference on conflict resolution and peace making, perhaps we will be able to persuade the Mind and Life Institute to join us).


from the book by the same name

by Yaakov Raz

Sometimes, just between myself, I think that I am on the right side
I am in favor of the oppressed and against the oppressors; for social justice, of course
For peace and against war
I write letters and sign on to others
All, of course, on the right side
I work with compassion, attention
Oppose the use of force

On the right side completely

I am not content sitting on a pillow
Trying to work with inequality, injustice, insensitivity and the unjust; the overt and the covert
This is my daily fulfillment
Of the Bodhisattva oath I took upon myself

Still, sometimes I am concerned.
I'm on the right side. So why am I bothered?

And something whispers to me
Your unease is not due to being on the right side
Or God forbid, on the wrong side

Your deep unease is due to being on any side

Even if it is right, this side
It is here
And in contrast to it, there is There

There, is the opponent, which, of course, is on the wrong side
And I, on the right side, leading a right struggle against him

Suddenly an opponent,  suddenly a struggle
Words that take subtle roots
Very right
And the right side intensifies
Not noticing the skin becoming dull
The condensation of the arteries
Little, not much
The words are right, the emotions right
The Mind investigating, exploring rightfully
Questioning, but right

But maybe it does not see
That the right side
Sometimes goes out
To Kill rightfully  

Because he knows correctly
Who is the enemy of peace, with whom we will not sit -
Establishments and governments of malice, etc.


Even God on the right side
Is compassionate and merciful
Building a tent of peace  
Only on the right side


In contrast, the wrong
His face is clear, sharp contours
Signs that cannot be doubted
How right it is that he is wrong  

He did not sing ever
He never hurts, he
Doesn’t laugh, never scratches
He is just wrong

But how does an Iranian mother sing lullabies to her baby, like this, near his toys ?
What do the Russians from Ashdod talk about us, the Israelis, in the afternoon by the sea ?
How does Tel Aviv look from Gaza or Bnei Brak?
What is a DJ for a yeshiva student?
What is the temple for the girl from the bistro?
What does the Jaffa born Arab tell about Jaffa, what does the big stones say to him
Near the Flea Market?
What do we know about the love for the land of the Settlers, Leftists, Palestinians,
Bedouins and others?
And who are all these
Who gave them names and when did they get all these signs
That closed their life upon us?

And how do these people touch with a trembling finger the cheek of a sick person? 
On the pillow, during this last moment, as his eyes seek to leave this place
And on what side is, Sorrow?
What is its original face?

Maybe they are similar to mine, almost twins
And go find the differences  
And if so, on which side am I

What emotions, flavors, aromas, dances, colors, prayers
Songs and dreams does this land arouse in each of its many residents?
And what side is it?  How much is it true? How much is it wrong?

And before I rush to my right actions
Perhaps, for a moment

Is it possible to be on no side?

* The Muda Center is an  Israeli meeting place for scientists, contemplatives and socially involved people.


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