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Buddhadharma : Winter 2014
winter 2 0 1 4 buddhadharma: the Practitioner’s quarterly 13 looking to improve our behavior. Nor does it mean putting up with something until it goes away. The practice of patience means bearing with dukkha without the expecta- tion that it will go away. In its perfection, patience means giving up any kind of deadline, so the mind is serene and equa- nimous. But if the patience isn’t pure yet (and it takes time to develop patience!), the mind still feels pushy or defensive. Impure patience says, “Just hold on and eventu- ally things will get better; I’ll get my own way in the end if I’m patient enough.” This approach can temporarily block or blunt the edge of suffering, but it doesn’t deal with the resistance or the desire that is suf- fering’s root. Pure patience is the kind of acceptance that acknowledges the presence of some- thing without adding to it or covering it up. FROM Parami: Ways To cross liFe’s Floods, AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD AT FORESTSANGhAPUBLICATIONS.ORG our final gift In a private letter to a sangha member grieving the death of a loved one, Zen teacher Zuiko Redding reflects on the generosity of passing away with grace and an open heart. Our death is the gift we make for the life we have enjoyed. The fact that it is a required gift doesn’t mean that we can’t give it with graciousness and an open heart for all beings who will benefit from it. It is a gift to our children and grandchildren and to rocks and trees that need the passing of life in order to live and grow themselves. Without the change resulting in our death, there would be no new beings coming into the world—no joy of holding a newborn, seeing the smile of a child or the leaves of a young tree facing the sun. We would have never grown up, helped others, learned new things, known the joy of spring. Death is our gift to the universe, the dues we pay for the joy of our lives. This does not mean it’s not hard to let go of this life. Dag Hammarskjöld wrote in Markings that when he was in his twenties, death was one of the crowd. But now, in his later years, death sits beside him at the din- ner table. Sometimes death is a good com- panion and tells us wise things. Sometimes we look at death and are grief-stricken and angry. It’s normal to grieve for our lives and be angry at their being taken—saying we shouldn’t is only putting a layer of suffering on our pain. None of us wants to go. We know, in the last analysis, that there’s nothing for us to do but let go of life and trust the universe to do something good, something useful, something we would have liked with it. Death is not an end. It is a change. The elements that made us up are still there, just as yarn is still there in a finished hat. It is itself, but it’s something else, also. Even though we’re in a sense still here, “self” as we know it is gone. That “self” won’t be appreciating the sunrise tomor- row. But, still, we are here in the places where our elements alight—a tree, a bird, a rock. Remember that things had to die so we could be born—stars, rocks, dinosaurs, plants. As we give up this life, we can thank them for sharing it with us so we could be here for a while. and the Walls come tumbling down Kittisaro and Thanissara say the barriers between us are dissolving, whether we like it or not. These are uncertain times. So many struc- tures and certainties are breaking apart. At any time, a tsunami, hurricane, or