To Loving Blackness

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During the time of Coronavirus I  took the opportunity to attend  an online Buddhist Seminar entitled : In the Footsteps of Thich Nhat Hanh. I consider Thich Nhat Hanh to be my guru. It was a five day summit, but since I was stuck at home I had plenty of time to attend. On the second day of the summit, at the end of the day, there was a short video that featured the writer bell hooks. Now bell hooks would be just about the last person in the world I would ever expect to encounter at a Buddhist seminar. Not there is any thing wrong with bell hooks. I like bell hooks. I know bell hooks. I’ve read several of her books and I have tremendous respect for her. I met her once in Philadelphia at a lecture she gave at the Free Library. I brought a book along with me for her to sign after the lecture, which she graciously did. When it came my turn I stood before her and smiled at her and told her that we shared the same name and that we both were from Kentucky. She liked that. She autographed my book with the following inscription: “To Loving Blackness.”

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It was an evening  I would not forget. Bell hooks is a woman with a fierce intellect and strong opinions and she is a woman who is full of rage.  She would be the first person to admit that. So, it was not without a little bit of surprise to run across this video of her at the summit. In the video she describes her encounter with Thich Nhat Hanh. She described how she was a little apprehensive about meeting the zen master.  She told him when she met him that she was filled with rage. He met that rage with loving kindness. He said that was OK. Hold onto your rage and use it for compost for your garden. Well, at moment, she had a little aha experience. And she was able to transform her anger, and that was the point of the video. Perfect!

5 thoughts on “To Loving Blackness

  1. Benn I envy you, having met bell hooks. The first time I read her I struggled for a good portion of the book. My wife looked at me and asked if something was wrong. I said, Yes, apparently all the problems in the world are my fault.” When I took a step back and realized she was writing about love, I realized it was not about blame, rather about how to overcome injustice together and in community. I now have several of her books and use her in my writing frequently. She is a source of inspiration, as is Thich Nhat Hanh. You cannot go wrong with either.

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