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Buddhadharma : Spring 2014
SPRING 2 0 1 4 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 9 A CALL TO WISDOM Senseless tragedies such as the death of Trayvon Martin, says Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, are a call to look at the delusions that separate us. You may have seen the short speech that Obama gave a day or two after the verdict in the George Zimmerman case. He said, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Mar- tin could have been me thirty-five years ago.” In truth, it’s even closer: you and I are one reality, and that one reality has many forms. Appearing as white or black or brown, male or female, young or old, animate or inanimate, we have a particular offering. The problem is when we create fixed identi- ties from these characteristics. Every dharma, every creature, is endowed with a radiant self- nature. This is what the Buddha realized; this is why Buddhism regards all things as sacred. It’s not because of what they do for us, but just because they are. All things reach every- where, are self-illuminating, self-intelligent, and interdependent with all other beings. An expression of this is that we each want to be happy. George Zimmerman wants to know true happiness; Trayvon Martin wanted just the same. Are you and I any different? If, at that critical moment, George Zimmerman could have imagined that Trayvon Martin shared that fundamental desire, I can’t imag- ine that he would have acted as he did. But there has to be space; there has to be interest in the other. There has to be questioning and humility, a willingness to open ourselves to what we do not understand and cannot see. It’s up to us to strive to use unnecessary tragedies such as this to help us awaken. When we look around the world and see these ancient boundaries and walls of mind built from the bricks of perceived differences— race, gender, sexuality, and class—we need to resist by practicing seeing through our habit- ual patterns of mind. We should take such tragedies as a call to arms—not as a call to take up violence or aggression, but to wield the sword of the spiritual warrior: the sword of wisdom that cuts through delusion. FROM MOUNTAIN RECORD, FALL 2013 THE BUSINESSLESS PERSON Thich Nhat Hanh explains Master Linji’s concept of the businessless person, someone who is not carried away by anything—even their idea of the Buddha. Master Linji invented new terms and new ways of saying things that would respond to the needs of his time. He invented the term “businessless person,” the person who has nothing to do and nowhere to go. This was his ideal example of what a person could be. According to Master Linji, the businessless person is someone who doesn’t run after enlightenment or grasp at anything, even if that thing is the Buddha. This person has simply stopped. She is no longer caught by anything, even theories or teachings. The businessless person is the true person inside each one of us. This is the essential teaching of Master Linji. ILLUSTRATIONS ERIC HANSON FIRST THOUGHTS