using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
spring 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 35 come to silently sit with me. I could not tell her to leave. I immediately began to cry. In that moment I couldn’t tell the reason for the tears. It was an upsurge of old pain, harbored from the time of our difficult relationship. How could I be tender given my violent past with her? I kept breathing and crying, sitting with this vision of my mother. Her face was sweet. She was smiling. She did not appear as the rage-filled, yet beautiful, person who had frightened me when I was young. I opened my eyes to wipe the water pooling under my eyelids. I looked around the room and realized that I had separated from everyone in the room for that moment. I felt they could not possibly be sitting with as much pain as I was. They seemed to be calm and composed. I was not like them. I was a volcano waiting to erupt. I recognized in that moment that old wounds had kept me from fully engaging with folks my entire life. I could be polite or kind to others, but I was unwilling and afraid to experience the wounded tenderness that would have eventually opened into a complete and liberated tenderness. I was unwilling to allow others completely into my heart. I cried more as the room seemed to darken, and I fused with the darkness. We were all in the dark. In the darkness I was a part of everyone and every- thing, whether I accepted it or not. Everyone else in the room was as invisible as I was. “I am invisible,” I whispered to myself. In the dark I recognized life without all of the things we impose upon it, and upon each other. As I continued to breathe, I felt a warm breeze near my face, but it was cold and raining outside and there were no open windows or doors. I thought perhaps it was the spirit of my mother. And then I thought, no, perhaps this is how complete tenderness feels when it arrives, having sloughed off rage. When I turned toward the hurt in the silence, I entered a kind of tenderness that was not sore, not wounded, but rather powerfully present. I sat up straight. The silence had tilled hard ground into soft soil. I sank deep into the soft ground, where the source of life was revealed—wordless, nameless, without form, completely indescribable. And then—I dare to say it—I was “completely tender.” To ease below the surface of my embodiment— my face, my flesh, my skin, my name—I needed to first see it reflected back at me. I had to look at it long enough to see the soft patches, the open- ings, the soft, tender ground. Would I survive the namelessness—without my body, without my heart—while engaging the beautiful, floral exterior of my life? Fear and caution were attempting to shut down the experience of uncoupling my heart from mistreatment and discrimination—from the disregard, hurt, and separation that I experienced and accepted as my one-sided life. I was going back to the moment before I was born, when I was con- nected to something other than my parents or my people. The uncoupling from hatred within and without squeezed my chest, restricting blood flow in my neck. It felt as though I were having a heart attack. Even namelessness requires breathing. I could not remain in that vastness without inhaling and exhaling. So I breathed hard and deep for some time, and eventually I was escorted to the emergency room to see if, in fact, I was having a heart attack. Complete tenderness almost wiped me out. And perhaps it does wipe “you” out—that “you” that suffers so. Still, what does liberation mean when I have incarnated in a particular body, with a particular shape, color, and sex, which can be superficially viewed as an undesirable, unaccept- able, or ugly image of human life? Enlightenment, as it has for sages and prophets down through the ages, emerges through bodies. Our bodies make us visible, even though many strive toward a spiritual transcendence in which we imagine we will become invisible. For me, that brief experience of invisibility attained deep in meditation was but a moment of awakening to the beauty of life, and it existed right within my extremely visible self. When recognition and awareness always occur within bodies, how can we ignore race, sexuality, and gender? In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says, Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. The wisdom in my bones says that we need this particular body, with its unique color, shape, and sex, for liberation to unfold.