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Buddhadharma : Spring 2017
spring 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 83 only in this culture but on the planet? Engagement is key and is part of our ethics, part of our awakening. AJAhN AMARO: To make a difference, I feel we have to be an example ourselves. If I want people to listen to me, I need to listen to them too. Often, especially when we feel strongly about an issue, we can find ourselves talking at each other rather than with each other. Sometimes we need to set the example by being prepared to genuinely listen; then the other is likely to be more inclined to hear us too. This applies not just to speech but to other aspects of ethical standards too: from the classical Buddhist per- spective, it’s equally true with respect to nonviolence, respect for ownership of property, sexual behavior, and the nonuse of alcohol and drugs that lead to destructive effects. Naturally, as this conversation has highlighted, this ➤ Buddhist Ethics in the 21st Century continued from page 58 principle of invoking change by embodi- ment—if you can call it that—should involve embodying skillful behaviors with respect to race, gender roles, sex- ual identity, and other areas of societal disparity. ANGEL KyODO WILLIAMS: There is a strong orientation toward personal practice in our society, which unintentionally serves to disengage us from the ethical consid- eration of how our personal experience plays out on a collective level. There’s a necessity to include, perhaps for the first time in an explicit way, the collective as part of our understanding of practice, and to recognize the danger of solely focusing on one’s individual experience in our hyper-individualist society. The view that is often held about individual anger does not necessarily translate col- lectively. Our loop of neuroses can be amplified by staying in containers that do not look to the collective, that do not choose to actively learn and engage the so-called “other” because we’ve become self-reinforcing. That’s something we’ve seen play out in certain American Bud- dhist communities. As a young man said at one Buddhist conference, “We create country clubs” rather than places of practice meant to challenge us toward liberation and awakening. If we are recreating environments in which the thinking is the same and we’re unchal- lenged, particularly at the level of the teachers, then we are reinforcing our neuroses and congratulating ourselves for it while waving our flag of wisdom and compassion. I think being unchallenged by the greater collective experience is part of why we have the current political situ- ation in the U.S. today. Too many of us who are good people let a bad thing hap- pen because we stayed in our bubbles. We didn’t show up to say that we’re going to think not only about who we are as good people but also about what happens collectively, the impact. We have to show up for people—it’s not enough for us to just behave ourselves. Jakusho Kwong, Abbot Soto Zen Lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi resident training monthly sesshins guest resident practice solo retreats workshops daily meditation rural country setting Genjo-ji 6367 Sonoma Mountain Road Santa Rosa, CA 95404 707.545.8105 firstname.lastname@example.org www.smzc.net SONOMA MOUNTAIN ZEN CENTER