June 14, 2024

Reflections from IMS on the Middle East

Beloved community,

We are eight months into the terrible events in the Middle East—a human, cultural, and environmental catastrophe that has rocked us all, so visible, personal, and palpable.

At IMS, we chose not to make a statement about the unfolding violence in Israel and Palestine. This was, in part, because we could see the degree of pain held on conflicting sides of this tragedy, and we did not want to alienate anyone from their place of practice. We also felt mindful of so many other horrific situations around the world that don’t receive daily attention, including Sudan, Ukraine, and—given its significance in the lineage of offerings at IMS—Burma. Our silence angered some in our community who felt IMS was shirking its responsibility as a major Dharma center in our tradition. We’ve received emails and petitions asking—insisting—that we condemn what they saw as genocide and apartheid. We’ve received emails asking us to condemn Hamas and its terrorism. Others have written asking us to please stay out of it.

What continues to be clear to us is that IMS’s primary role is to hold a safe space for all who turn to the Dharma for solace, for insights, and for freedom. That priority remains in times of great turmoil. Human beings are the ones who are committing terrible pain on one another. Each of us has the capacity to inflict harm in those conditions that give rise to it because we are each subject to the forces of greed, hatred, and delusion. We can see this in so many long-standing conflicts on Earth right now, as well as those in the past. We know there will be more to come. We believe that practice is the pathway for each of us to cultivate discernment amid suffering so that we can access greater clarity and truth.

We are inspired by the Dharma reflections of the Spirit Rock Guiding Teacher Council, and want to share them with you in case you find the message supportive.

Wishing you ease in these challenging times.

May all beings be free from suffering.
May all beings be at peace.

Guy Armstrong, Guiding Teacher
Devin Berry, Guiding Teacher
Inger Forland, Executive Director
Joseph Goldstein, Founder

Tara Healey, Board President,
DEI&A Committee
Kamala Masters, Guiding Teacher
Winnie Nazarko, Guiding Teacher

Sharon Salzberg, Founder
Karen Williams, Board VP,
DEI&A Committee
Carol Wilson, Guiding Teacher