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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
SUMMER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 21 NARAYAN LIEBENSON GRADY: I will do my best to answer your question, with the understanding that I don’t know much about the Tibetan tradition and how essential being under the guidance of a living teacher is considered to be. Given that you have continued to sustain your connection to this partic- ular tradition for twenty-two years, I can’t see why you would need to change paths unless you want to. I do wonder what is prompting you to question your participation after all these years. Do you have an intuition that another path might be better at this point? Is there some dissatisfaction? Or a sense of being “less than,” perhaps doubting that you have permission to continue? I don’t see any way that you might be doing yourself or the tradition a disser- vice. The fact that you have kept your connection going for so long without a living teacher points to your love and respect for the tradition, as well as for your teacher who has died. How can that be a bad thing? As for your late teacher, it is said that if you have a meaningful connection while the person is alive, that connec- tion isn’t necessarily severed at death. I have been truly surprised to find that since my beloved teacher, Master Sheng Yen, passed away in 2009, there is a way in which he is still available to me. I can’t say much more than that, but the experience has given me confidence that such relationships continue after death. If this kind of connection is true for you on any level, then you still have access to the first jewel. If you do not feel it is true, then consider another meaning of taking refuge in the Bud- dha, which is taking refuge in your own buddhanature. From that perspective, you still have access to the first jewel. It is also wonderful that you are in a sangha. Spiritual friendship is one of the most precious elements on the spiri- tual path. Perhaps, considering all this, you just need to dedicate yourself even more to the path you are already on. And be happy about it!