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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
SPRING 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 55 acting out of an emptiness that has nothing to gain and noth- ing to lose. The challenge of political involvement for Bud- dhists is not sacrificing either because we’re so completely focused on the other. BUDDHADHARMA: Many a Buddhist practitioner would say that they go on retreat or sesshin because they want quiet time, a respite from the world where they can work with their own mind. If that space becomes politicized, they may no longer feel it is a refuge for them. MUSHIM IKEDA: I have to laugh when people say they would like to live like a nun or monk in a temple or a Buddhist spiritual community, because they like to be alone and meditate all the time. That’s the last thing you’re going to find in any of those places. There will be times, hopefully, that it’s quiet. There will be a schedule, and during that time people tend to be quiet and well behaved. However, in any community, virulent tensions will arise because of individual differences. Human beings are going to have conflict, and conflict generates a lot of noise, both internally in the mind and externally in the environment. As an example, I heard about one residential community where the kitchen staff got into an acrimonious and lengthy debate about whether there should be one large bottle of Tabasco sauce kept in the condiments area or small bottles at each table. JOAN SUTHERLAND: I can understand the desire for the silence and the space to relax and to begin to see things more clearly, but the dichotomy between that and the Tabasco sauce wars is illusory. Neither can exist in isolation, and if one part of our practice is about a deepening experience of spaciousness, the other part is about embodying that in the world. It’s the old form and emptiness thing, and if you fall too far on one side or the other, something is missing. You have to do the difficult work of getting tossed back and forth between the quiet, spacious world and the active, lively world until it doesn’t feel like you’re being tossed anymore, until you find something underneath that contains both the PHOTOS(LEFT—RIGHT):JERUSALEMUNIVERSITY;SYLVIALA;MARGOCONOVER PHOTO © ALISON KLEIN, WEBN NEWS 2008