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Buddhadharma : Winter 2011
21 WINTER 2 01 1 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SEND YOUR QUESTIONS BY MAIL OR TO TEACHERS@THEBUDDHADHARMA.COM NARAYAN LIEBENSON GRADY: There are two instances in the Buddha’s life that are instructive regarding your question. The first involved a drunk and angry elephant running toward the Buddha with the intent to kill him. The Buddha responded by sending the elephant metta, whereupon the elephant stopped in his tracks and bowed down instead of trampling the Buddha to death. In the second instance, the Buddha was subjected to angry insults. First the Buddha just listened to the man, then he basically said he could not accept the anger, that it was a gift he would not receive. So yes, we need to respond in the moment to any mistreatment of ourselves or others, but the question is how. The Buddha taught that violence begets violence and that only love can stop the cycle, so it is impor- tant to avoid participating in violent actions. But this doesn’t mean lying down and passively accepting abuse. Nor does it mean demonizing the person who is causing the trouble or seeing that person as the “other.” ASK THE TEACHERS ZENKEI BLANCHE HARTMAN is former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center GESHE TENZIN WANGYAL RINPOCHE is a lineage holder of the Bön Dzogchen tradition of Tibet NARAYAN LIEBENSON GRADY is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center QUESTION: Buddhism as a whole speaks eloquently on issues such as managing suffering and dealing with violence after it has occurred, with forgiveness, acceptance, and letting go. But, in my experience, it has been largely silent on dealing with issues of violence as they are occur- ring. So, here is my question: In day-to-day society—be it in a business setting, family setting, or more public setting—we often witness mistreatment such as emotional violence, bullying, and disenfranchisement being perpetrated against ourselves or others. Does the dharma provide any teaching on how to deal with this kind of situation—not after it has happened, but while it is happening? Should we respond and, if so, how should we respond? I ask this question because it seems that we are often advised to take the “nonviolent” approach, which is often interpreted as taking a passive, nonreactive approach. (LEFT-RIGHT):BARBARAWENGER,JANINEGULDENER,MARYLANG