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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
56 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 2 in politics. It was probably a good response to back off for a while and think about things. Then, a few decades later, a movement began toward becoming politically engaged. But it was now an engagement that benefited from the lessons of World War II. Staying alert to how time and circumstances and people are changing is tremendously important. MUSHIM IKEDA: It seems natural that Buddhist communities, at least in the United States, would tend to form around peo- ple who have political affinities. They might not all vote the same way, but there are going to be more similarities than differences. Our mission at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland is centered on diversity and social justice. There’s a weekly meeting for those who self-identify as people of color, and a group called the Alphabet Sangha for people who self- identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or same-gender loving. Politically, it would be unusual for someone to come to the center and say, “Respectfully, I am totally against same-sex marriage. Because of the way I was raised, I think it’s an abomination. I really want to walk the path of peace and I love doing meditation, but this is the way I feel and I’m going to vote according to my feelings.” Even if a community provides, as Joan said, the ability to spaciously PHOTO TOM LEGRO, PBS NEWSHOUR stillness and the activity, no matter what the circumstance. The more we rest in that and emerge from that in our activi- ties, the less there is a sense of losing something because we’re including the other and the more there is a sense that practice is one whole thing we can gladly work with. DAVID LOY: It’s important to distinguish dharma practice on the personal level—where we work on our own transforma- tion—from political activities. People shouldn’t be required to have a particular political view to come to a dharma center. Practice is what enables us to see the connections between per- sonal transformation and social transformation. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to practice in a dharma center have the resources and the opportunities to engage, which is something most people can never take for granted. With privilege always comes responsibility, and we need not only to acknowledge the privilege but to act according to it. JOAN SUTHERLAND: The tensions we’re talking about can be tremendously creative if we’re willing to hang out with them and be uncomfortable. In Japan during World War II, for example, Zen became involved with imperialism. It was a horrible period in the history of Zen, and for a while in the postwar period, people in Zen didn’t want to get involved