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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
42 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2016 bodhisattvas are beings dedicated to help- ing relieve suffering for all, realizing uni- versal awakening, and leading all beings to that same awakening. Such practice cannot be merely about self-help or personal salvation. Bodhisattva practitioners are those who realize their deep interconnectedness with all beings. Such realization might start from hearing teachings but then becomes viscerally affirmed through meditative or devotional practices. Bodhisattva practitioners do not see all the suf- fering beings as “other” or separate. We are all in this together. What are the implications of this for modern practitioners amid the many challenges we now face? Among many other traditional lists of bodhisattva practices, we have the classic four vows: to free or save all the innumerable beings; to destroy all the numberless delusions, deeply ingrained in ourselves and our society; to enter all the boundless gateways to reality and teaching, to see all situations as opportuni- ties for learning and practice; and to realize and express the way to buddhahood. Such vows are inconceivable. They might seem abstract or even irrelevant compared to the practical problems involved in our everyday lives, not to mention all the issues in the world around us. Even as we take on pragmatic everyday proj- ects, including noble helpful ones, what could such inconceivable aims have to offer us? How could they be applicable to our lives? Bodhisattvas commit to staying open to the suffering in the surrounding world, but they must include themselves among the beings worthy of care. As individuals, we are beset with the personal problems from our habits of anne Klein • venerable pannavati • eJo mcmullen Forum Awakening to the Cries of the World hoW to be a bodhisattva grasping and craving, anger and frustration, fear and confusion. How does one practically balance self-care with a deep commitment to be helpful rather than harmful? Everyone has aspects of their lives worthy of gratitude. To do this work, we must somehow sustain a practice of caring for suffering beings while also finding the joy and contentment to celebrate all that is wondrous in our lives. Our world also includes multitudes of sys- temic sources of suffering. We face the chal- lenges of climate damage seriously imperiling our habitat, the deep karmic legacy of rac- ism, and the rampant injustice and inequality destroying many lives. Although these issues can seem overwhelming, Buddhism and his- tory show that change does happen; we do not know the outcomes. Just in the United States, popular movements going back to abolition- ists before the Civil War, women’s suffrage a century ago, the civil rights movement, and more recently Occupy, the gay rights move- ment, the climate movement, and Black Lives Matter, human beings have made a real differ- ence in the world again and again. We have the ability to respond, and we have bodhisattva responsibility. In the dialogue that follows, three teachers from different traditions explore the ideal of the bodhisattva, the path that it offers us, and the challenges and possibilities we might meet along the way. taIGen Dan leIGhtOn is a Soto Zen priest and author of Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression. he teaches at ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago and the Berkeley Graduate theological union. SCULPTURES By WanG Zi-Won introduction by taiGen dan leiGhton