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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
winter 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 13 press pause Thich Nhat Hanh says the next time someone asks you a question, don’t answer right away. When we give an immediate reply to some- one, usually we are just reeling off our knowledge or reacting out of emotion. When we hear the other person’s question or comment, we don’t take the time to listen deeply and look deeply into what has been shared; we just volley back a quick rejoin- der. That’s not helpful. The next time someone asks you a ques- tion, don’t answer right away. Receive the question or sharing and let it penetrate you so the speaker feels that he or she has really been listened to. All of us, but especially those whose profession is to help others, can benefit from training ourselves in this skill; we must practice in order to do it well. First and foremost, if we haven’t listened deeply to ourselves, we can’t listen deeply to others. Only when we have been able to open space within ourselves can we really help others. If I am out for a walk or on a public bus—anywhere, really—it is very easy to notice if someone has a feeling of spaciousness. Perhaps you’ve met people like this—you don’t even know them well, but you feel comfortable with them because they are easy and relaxed. They are not already full of their own agenda. If you open the space within yourself, you will find that people, even people who perhaps have been avoiding you (your teen- age daughter, your partner with whom you were in a fight, your parent) will want to come and be near you. You don’t have to do anything or try to teach them anything or even say anything. If you are practicing on your own, creating space and quiet within you, others will be drawn to your spacious- ness. People will feel comfortable just being around you because of the quality of your presence. FROM sIlence (HARPER ONE, JANuARy 2015) a seamless heart A perfectly awakened heart, says Thanissara, is one that allows for no division between yourself and others. If we use Buddhism as a sort of comfortable identity or are interested in using some of its meditation methods without going too deeply into the process of awakening, then we may not feel so concerned with the dis- crimination inherent in its traditional and contemporary structures. However, if we are looking for an authentic vehicle that can hold us in our deepest awakening process, which we are now collectively accelerating into, then we can no longer afford to enter- tain any splits, whether against women, against people of color, against other races, or against the parts of ourselves that we refuse to embrace, heal, and liberate. This is because as we awaken, we will be unable to tolerate a divided consciousness that frag- ments our experience. It will not allow us to trust that we are held at the deepest level of our being without having to deny integral parts of our personal and collective self. If our practice is based on splitting aspects of life away from our loving aware- ness, it will simply be too painful and will ultimately damage others as we project that pain onto them. We will condemn those around us for what we can’t accept in our- selves. Instead, as we start to live from a more loving, embracing, and seamless heart, we will forge a more radical democracy of