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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
20 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 1 6 path toward understanding the pain of others. In summon- ing the courage to turn toward pain, wherever it may be, compassion springs forth naturally and without effort. Whatever our ideals, we all begin with the intention to find relief within ourselves; as we continue, this intention naturally blossoms into the aspiration to be of benefit to all. As a prac- tice, try deliberately reflecting on the needs of others as equal to your own. Compassion is truly understood when it flows in all directions without distinction. sallie JiKo tisdale: I started practice to save myself, and I’m still working on that. Just about everyone who takes on a serious Buddhist practice does so because they are suffering. We become aware of our suffering, grow tired of it, and seek a way out. In Buddhism, this search is explicit. All things are marked by suffering—we see the cause, we discover a way out, and we seek to live that way. We may call this the search for enlightenment or understanding, but these are all ways to end suffering. I don’t believe that you feel no compassion for others. Com- passion radiates from your center, so begin with the near— begin, as you have, with yourself. This circle expands over time, from the single self to those nearest to us, the beings we love and cherish. Eventually we feel sympathy toward those who are simply like us, who seem familiar. At times, this can mean that we may feel more compassionate toward a suffering animal than a suffering person. Just notice this and investigate it. Be curious about the circles of intimacy in which you live. You are holding yourself to a very difficult standard. The miracle of Buddhist practice is that sometimes our suffering is relieved. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel aversion, greed, and confusion. It doesn’t mean we are free of self-centeredness or fear or desire. It means that we discover a place spacious enough that our suffering becomes a little different. Do you think you should feel the same toward everyone? Are you trying to feel the same kind of compassion for all beings—for people very different from yourself? Do you think that you lack compassion unless your compassion is given equally to everyone? We’ve all felt moved by the stories of strangers, but when this doesn’t happen, so be it. Feeling guilty is probably not doing any good. You are punishing yourself for the desire to save your own life, but the circle of com- passion begins with you and goes equally in all directions, including inward. I wonder if you are also limiting the idea of what compas- sion looks and feels like. Images of compassion in Buddhism are varied: androgynous, distinctly female or male, gentle and fierce. Compassion is all these things. We want our jailers and police officers to be compassionate, but we also want them to be firm and able to make judgments. Anger can be compas- sionate; we should be willing to be moved by injustice and step in to stop it. Good boundaries, which may mean keeping your distance, can be compassionate; at times, it is best to avoid a Upaya Zen Center join renowned teachers this fall in santa fe, new mexico Mind of Autumn: Timeless Writing and Zen Natalie Goldberg and Wendy J Hongzhi’s Boundless Field and Vision of Compassionate Nature Taigen D Sesshin: Silent Illumination J rian Byrnes and Genzan Quennell Joy and Wisdom S on Salzberg and R oan Halifax santa fe, new mexico 505-986-8518 www.upaya.org email@example.com see entire calendar, teachings, & more at upaya.org sept. 21 –25 oct. 14–16 oct. 25–30 nov. 3 –6 DO NOT PRINT THIS INFORMATION BUDDHADHARMA FALL 2016 17-026 The Lotus Sutra A Biography Donald S. Lopez, Jr. Cloth $29.95 Lives of Great Religious Books The Lotus Sutra is arguably the most famous of all Buddhist scriptures. Composed in India in the first centuries of the Common Era, it is renowned for its inspiring message that all beings are destined for supreme enlightenment. Here, Donald Lopez provides an engaging and accessible biography of this enduring classic. See our E-Books at press.princeton.edu