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Buddhadharma : Summer 2015
summer 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 11 I couldn’t. In brief, he treated me as a bud- dha, and therefore inspired me to be one. And now? He keeps urging me to do the impossible. I see him in his light blue kimono and robe, grey kesa over one shoul- der, glasses perched at the end of his nose, as he leans toward me from his high seat: “Sentient beings are numberless—I can’t possibly save them all. Yet I vow to do it!” he bellows. “Desires are inexhaustible—put an end to them? Can’t do it. But I vow to do it.” And on he goes, wending his way through the four bodhisattva vows, getting more and more riled up until, at the end, the only thing he can do is burst into song: To dream the impossible dream To fight the unbeatable foe To bear with unbearable sorrow To run where the brave dare not go... Man of La Mancha one moment. Robert De Niro the next. “This is impossible!” he roars. “So if you’re hanging on to any sense of hope, forgeddaboutit! There is no hope!” A bodhisattva doesn’t need hope, he con- stantly reminds me. A bodhisattva has vow. FROM Mountain RecoRd, WINTER 2014–2015 “are you a buddhist?” For Sharon Salzberg, “Buddhism” is a convenient label for the life she has chosen, nothing more. The point [of Buddhism] isn’t to become a Buddhist, to declare an identity, to reject anything else. The point is to look at, explore, and if you wish, to try to live a certain way of life—a way of not harming yourself or others, having compassion for yourself and others, building concentration, experimenting with mindfulness, developing wisdom or insight. It’s a way of life; it’s not in lockdown, with a certain kind of langua- ging or belief or adherence to belief. The Buddha did not teach Buddhism; the Bud- dha taught a way of life. Many times, people say to me, “Are you a Buddhist?” and I don’t know how to answer that, so my response is usually very contextual. Sometimes I say yes because I don’t know what else to say. It’s been a long time since I went to India—more than forty years—so right from the beginning of my spiritual life this has been the languaging. These are the images, the stories, the con- text I’m used to, and that’s what I would say. So because of that, if someone says to me, “Are you Buddhist?” I’d say, yeah. But there are other contexts where some- body asks me, “Are you Buddhist?” and I usually respond by saying, “I don’t think like that.” And I don’t—I don’t think, “What am I?” in terms of a label. I just don’t. But these are my practices, the medi- tation practices and the ethical consider- ations that I learned in that same context. That’s my practice; that’s the core of my spiritual life, that’s the core of my life. FROM uPAyA ZEN CENTER’S BLOG, MARCh 31, 2015 beneath the surface Caring for a dying plant reminds Ajahn Thanasanti that potential—even in one’s practice—often lies unseen. The leaves and stems of my cyclamen plant had turned brown and withered. It looked as if she had died. I thought about tossing her out. But in the midst of the tangle of dried leaves and stems I noticed one tiny green leaf about one millimeter wide. It perked my curiosity and I continued look- ing. Underneath everything that was dried up and dead, there were little bulbs that were pushing through the soil, bulbs where the leaves emerged. They were green and looked healthy. a history of women in buddhism could be summed up with “overlooked and undervalued.” —Jetsunman Tenzin Palmo in the Upaya Zen Center newsletter, March 31, 2015