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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
FALL 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 15 what is the “real world”? Anyone who has stayed here for more than a few hours realizes that far from getting away from the world, monastery life is designed to be a place where we meet the world—the world of our own perceptions, our own preferences, our own fears and desires, and our own opinions. We might think, “Oh, there are so many difficul- ties in the world: social stresses, problems of climate change, the collapsing economy, so many suffering beings in the world. What am I doing in a monastery, how am I helping? Am I just trying to hide away from the real world?” That’s a reasonable enough question. But what we find is that because there is a meet- ing with the real world of our own mind, our own bodies, and the physical reality of our existence, we are in a sense more genuinely engaged with the real world than when we’re running around outside. The blur of activity in an ordinary everyday life, even though it can be involved with a lot of compassionate and beneficial activity, can actually mean that we’re on one level doing a lot of good things, but on another level we’re disconnected from the people around us. Living in the monastery and undertak- ing monastic training is about bringing our attention to ordinary everyday activities. Just the way you carefully put two pieces of PVC pipe together, the way that you chop a car- rot, the way that you clear a trail or edit a dharma talk, the care with which you bring your attention to each action and the attun- ement of the mind to the present moment is what creates a sacred space. This is what creates this place as a monastery, rather than just an aggregation of individuals following their own wishes, opinions, and habits. The fact that there are sanctuaries such as this in the world is a tremendous benefit and bless- ing. That people know there is a place where others will not lie to them, cheat them, try to flirt with them, get money from them, or wish them harm is a tremendous gift. FROM ABHAYAGIRI.ORG/REFLECTIONS, THE BLOG OF ABHAYAGIRI MONASTERY, JUNE 7, 2013 DON’T EXPECT IT TO BE EASY Timeless injunctions from Zen Master Kyong Ho (1849–1912), the seventy-fifth patriarch of Korean Zen. Don’t wish for perfect health. In perfect health there is greed and wanting. So an ancient said, “Make good medicine from the suffering of sickness.” Don’t hope for a life without problems. An easy life results in a judgmental and lazy mind. So an ancient once said, “Accept the anxieties and difficulties of this life.” Don’t expect your practice to be always clear of obstacles. Without hindrances the mind that seeks enlightenment may be burnt out. So an ancient once said, “Attain deliverance in disturbances.” Don’t expect to practice hard and not experi- ence the weird. Hard practice that evades the unknown makes for a weak commitment. So an ancient once said, “Help hard practice by befriending every demon.” Don’t expect to finish doing something easily. If you happen to acquire something easily the will is made weaker. So an ancient once said, “Try again and again to complete what you are doing.” Don’t try to make clarity of mind with severe practice. Every mind comes to hate sever- ity, and where is clarity in mortification? So an ancient once said, “Clear a passageway through severe practice.” Be equal to every hindrance. Buddha attained Supreme Enlightenment without hindrance.