Home Buddhist space Society Through Meditation, the Homeless Achieve Radical Peace

Through Meditation, the Homeless Achieve Radical Peace


“You’re alive for a simple reason, and that’s to be happy,” hip-hop mogul, philanthropist and Changemaker Russell Simmons recently told participants in the Harlem branch of Ready, Willing, and Able, which helps homeless men find jobs and housing. The program recently began teaching meditation, of which Simmons is an evangelist. His goal: to teach stillness and breathing to a group many perceive as being about “hustle and flow.”

Simmons is not the only person embracing this approach.

As Jana Drakka, a Buddhist monk in San Francisco has said, “Everything in this life can and will be taken away from us, but while you’re alive, there’s one thing no one can take away. They can take away your home, your job, your health can go, but freedom of mind — we are all free.” There are indeed times when existence is so painful that endurance can be one breath at a time, one day at a time being an eternity.


Although Drakka readily admits to a past that includes homelessness, experimentation with drugs and emotional abuse from others, these experiences have become a vehicle for her empathy. It is a paradox that those experiences that might be considered most crippling in “straight” life have become an avenue for her deep understanding and respectful connection for those who suffer on the streets.

I hope that I can fully express and honor the work of those like Drakka who have stepped outside of tradition and convention and who offer a loving presence to homeless people by teaching them the ancient practice of meditation. Far from being the province of the more fortunate, meditation is free, can be practiced anywhere and teaches its practitioners to “be here now.”

For those remembering difficult and sometimes excruciating pasts and facing unknowable and anxiety-provoking futures, meditation reduces stress and increases focus.

At Haven for Hope in San Antonio, a group called Homeless Meditation Practitioners Street Dharma also teaches meditation to the poor and homeless. They say, “Our main job is just ‘being’ there. We go out on the streets, to shelters and any place in which our Homeless Brothers and Sisters gather. We listen, learn, interact and offer folks some meditation techniques that help with stress, alcoholism, depression, bi-polar disorder and the daily struggle of just being Human.”

In London, at the World Community for Christian Meditation, the participants say: “We cannot be silent and pray like this on the streets … we would not be safe with our eyes closed, we could not feel this peace,” and “Just listening to God is so different for me. The silence is healing.”

It’s easy to imagine the skeptics scoffing at these efforts, but research is underway to determine how meditation affects health. Regardless, this approach includes a fundamental value that many in our country believe in wholeheartedly, which is that of personal choice. In the silence, in the simple circles of human beings being present with one another, in the radical acceptance of what is, homeless people and those that know that “there but for the grace of God go I” find the ability to choose to believe in a different path for themselves. That choice is the first of many.

Source: homelessness.change.org

Previous articleIndia pays tribute to Buddha’s bard in Nepal
Next articleLand of Medicine Buddha draws hundreds to eighth annual festival