April 15th (tax day) 2011 was marked by mass protests at Bank of America's from New York to Los Angeles. Most of these protests included music, bull horns, drums, slogan chanting, speeches, and actual occupations of banks.
While I can appreciate all these methods they don't really fit my personality and I wanted to try something more personal. I decided I would preform a modified version of the ancient Hindu practice of DHARNA wherein a person who feels wronged will fast and meditate on the offenders doorstep until the wrong is corrected….or the protestor starves to death. My version was to take a vow of silence for the day and meditate until the bank closed or I was forcibly made to leave.
I invited some friends to join me but knew all along I would be doing it alone. I was able to have a friend film most of it. He began filming about 45 minutes after I began and missed getting footage of private security surrounding me, insulting me, and blowing cigarette smoke in my face. I never moved or acknowledged their presence.
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After an hour and a half of sitting I moved to standing meditation (Buddha prescribed 4 postures for meditation. sitting, standing, laying down, and walking) and about half an hour later the LAPD came to talk to me. I gave them a printed letter with the 1st & 4th Amendments and an explanation of what i was doing. They read the note and I could tell they weren't sure what to do and since I wouldn't speak I had to write in a pad to communicate. I was told that the sidewalk in front of any business is private property and that I was trespassing. I pointed to the first Amendment on the letter and they told me it didn't matter this was private property and that I would have to leave or be arrested. I told them (even though it was clearly evident) that I wasn't blocking any doorways, customers, or pedestrians. They said “We know and we're sorry. We wish everyone would protest this way but you will have to leave or we will arrest you”.
I honestly think they knew what they were doing was wrong and felt bad about it. I continued with standing meditation for another hour or so on the corner where they said it was legal for me to be.
During all this I never spoke and only opened my eyes enough to let a bit of light in. I received 3 “god bless yous”, 3 people tried to give me money, I was called a terrorist, a homeless man ate his lunch squatting before my sign, and I heard several voices with Indian accents saying “this is very good. you are very good.”
I plan on doing this sort of action more and more and am looking for some solid meditators to join me. The ideal would be 108 of us sitting silently in front of The Federal Reserve. If interested get in touch.
Special thanks to Josh & Timmy Eagle.
May ALL being be happy & well. Namaste,