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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
fall 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 19 narayan helen liebenson: I don’t think you are at all aware of the compassion already expressed in your sincere and honest ques- tion. To be holding this question with such puzzlement points to the dedication you already have to be compassionate toward all. If not, this wouldn’t be an issue for you. You would go merrily on your way, simply content with your own progress on the path. Try to take note of any moments of kind- ness to others in your daily life. Can you truly ignore the pain of others with total indifference, valuing your own happiness in those moments much more than theirs? I doubt it. Be aware of those moments in which you have acted in a kind way or said a kind word or even have thought a kind thought, and—without claiming these moments as self—take note of the mind state. In these moments, is there a lack of compassion? In some Buddhist lineages, practitioners are encouraged when they begin to practice for the sake of all beings. In other Buddhist traditions, the initial motivation is to attend to one’s own inner suffering at the same time as practicing compassion toward all. Although the ideals may be expressed differ- ently, when it comes to the reality of actual people, I haven’t noticed one lineage as kinder than another. Everyone is just trying to do their best. Please remember, compassion is a natural expression of the heart. It does not need to be pursued. Notice when condition- ing compels you to follow the very human response of closing your heart when in pain—whether your own pain or the pain of others. When you turn away from pain, compassion is blocked; turning toward one’s own pain without fear or resistance is a (LEFT–RIgHT):marylanG,nicolasGounaropoulos,Kimcampbell asK the teachers Qi have been on the buddhist path for fifteen years. Twice daily at home, I read from Buddhist books, meditate, and chant. But somehow, I just don’t get compassion as the Buddha taught it. My concern is that my practice is about saving myself. I have tried earnestly to change, but I don’t know how. what can you suggest? I feel both two-faced and guilty. NarayaN HElEN liEbENsoN is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center GEsHE TENziN WaNGyal riNpocHE is a lineage holder of the Bön Dzogchen tradition of tibet salliE jiko TisdalE is a lay dharma teacher at Dharma rain Zen Center in Portland, Oregon