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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
than outer political or social changes. However we were immediately impacted by the circumstances we found ourselves in. THANISSARA address the safety of women. Through the work of Khaniysa issues such as gender equity, positive male archetypes, respon sible sexual behavior, power and relationship dynamics, and effective communications are explored. It has taken a lot of faith to launch these projects when all our endeavors, including Dharmagiri Hermitage, run entirely on a dana basis. It is something of a highrisk strategy that has challenged us to trust in the fundamental goodness of life itself. When our teacher Ajahn Chah accepted an invita tion to set up monasteries in England in 1977, people became nervous that an order based on mendicancy would be unable to survive in the West. Ajahn Chah simply responded with a question, “Are there not any good people in England?” In the face of challenges of rural South Africa, we try to stay honed to goodness in spite of sometimes being overwhelmed and demoralized. We could not have done this without drawing from the depths of Buddhist practice. Equanimity is indispensable to social activism. Equanim ity isn’t an abdication from the ups and downs of life; rather it is the ability to stand firm in the face of them. Equanimity and effective response within challenging circumstances comes from the ability to meet life exactly as it is. It’s so easy to get caught up with negative mind states when faced with betrayals of trust, obstructive or dangerous situations, systemic racism, and the relentless grind of poverty. One has to stay mindful to not get caught up in aversion, judgment, or despair. In such circumstances, it’s tempting to be susceptible to a particular kind of bitterness that hardens the heart and makes one feel hopeless or cynical. In reality, the cause of negativity isn’t so much external events, though they naturally have an impact, but it arises from the false assumptions we hold. We simply assume that life, people, and circumstances should be other than what they are. Once Ajahn Chah visited a Western monk in hospital who was complaining about an operation he had to have on his knees, saying over and over that “it shouldn’t be this way.” Eventually Ajahn Chah leaned over him and said, “If it shouldn’t be this way, it wouldn’t be this way.” Ajahn Chah encouraged bringing mindfulness right to the place where the (Top) View of Mqatsheni Valley on the border of Lesotho near Dharmagiri Hermitage (Above) Chanda Mollers from San Francisco Insight teaches yoga to South African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS 62 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 2 PHOTOS(ABOVE)THANISSARA,(BELOW)JURGENMOLLERS