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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
FALL 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 21 states. The feeling of alienation from those around you becomes reified when there is attachment to this kind of silence. However, there is a kind of silence that is reliable. This silence comes with seeing through the sense of there being a solid and permanent self who is meditat- ing. It is accessed by including all phe- nomena in the field of awareness. The emphasis is on being aware instead of overly focusing on objects of awareness. If you practice in this way, at least at times, you may become more familiar with mental states and feel less need to exclude them. Instead of trying to “clear your head,” be interested in whatever way things are from moment to moment. Be aware, not just in formal sitting ses- sions but in every moment of the day. Be interested in the kilesas (kleshas), the dis- turbances happening in your own mind. Look at what is happening, and allow the torments of heart to dissolve in the light of awareness. Gradually your perspective will shift and you’ll see that this sense of separa- tion is something unnecessary and extra. Instead of judging the actions of others, you’ll see with discernment and compas- sion. Rather than looking from afar, an intuitive sense of sympathy and kindness will arise. In this kind of silence, com- passion comes naturally. ZENKEI BLANCHE HARTMAN: You seem to be asking what can be done to com- bat the alienation you experience when you see the exaggerated consumptive tendencies of our society. Indeed, we have an extensive advertising industry designed to promote and further exag- gerate these tendencies. But even in the Buddha’s lifetime, he spoke of greed as one of the “three poisons” that cause suffering in our life. In the teaching of the six realms of existence, beings in the hungry ghost realm (the realm of insa- tiability) are depicted as having large bellies and thread-like necks, so it is impossible for them to ever fill their bel- lies. If you can see greed as an affliction, you may be able to cultivate compassion for those beings with exaggerated con- sumptive tendencies, rather than a sense of alienation. Instead of judging yourself (i.e., “I don’t think this is the proper response”), you might cultivate gratitude for your good fortune at having met the buddhadharma, and for the teachers and companions on the path who have wel- comed you and may have demonstrated to you a more compassionate way to live this precious human life. Are you familiar with the practice of cultivating the four heavenly abodes (the brahmaviharas)? They are: metta (limitless loving-kindness toward all beings), karuna (limitless compassion toward all beings), mudita (limitless joy at the liberation of all beings), and upeksha (limitless equanimity toward all beings). Traditionally, one always begins with oneself. For example: “May I be happy. May I be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May I have ease of well-being,” etc. Next, one moves outward to those who are near and dear, followed by those toward whom we feel indifferent. Finally, we include those who give rise to difficult feelings in us, until we can truly extend our heart- felt loving-kindness, compassion, empa- thetic joy, and equanimity to all beings without exception. By cultivating these qualities, we can begin to be more aware of our deep con- nectedness with all beings and alleviate the suffering of alienation. Instead of trying to “clear your head,” be interested in whatever way things are from moment to moment. Gradually your perspective will shift and you’ll see that this sense of separation is something unnecessary and extra. —Narayan Liebenson Grady