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Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
summer 2006| 54 |buddhadharma Robina CouRtin: I wouldn’t put that down. It’s better than killing people. Let’s not get too fundamental- ist and lay that judgment on people. Any single, tiny thing that has the label Buddha on it, if it can help make you a slightly better person, is all to the good. buddhadhaRma: But if a group doesn’t have any form of reaching out, after a while could that become something that is not in the spirit of Buddhism anymore? beRnie Glassman: Buddhism is very young here. If you consider the Catholic Church or Buddhism in Japan, there are so many different ways that people are doing things. In the Catholic world, there are monastic orders, social action orders, educational orders, and orders for parish priests. All sorts of different schools and groups arose to take care of the multitude of needs of people. In Japan, the Pure Land school is very promi- nent. One of the newest schools, and probably the largest now in Japan, Rissho Kosei Kai, was founded by a Gandhi sort of person. It does not emphasize meditation, but rather social action and working in Third World countries. Soto and Rinzai have their own well-known approaches. The Tendai school stresses working with people’s psychology. This same kind of differentiation is going to happen here. Some will say that to be a good Bud- dhist, you have to spend thirty years in a cave, and others will say, “Spend thirty years in my medi- tation hall,” and others will say you have to do social action. The world is a huge garden, and people have to have their choice. There will be people at different times of their life wanting one form or another. There will be many gates. Why say one is right or one is wrong? paul halleR: I agree. Different personalities and karmic dispositions will be attracted to different forms of practice. We’re at this very interesting phase where we’re moving away from the retreat not seParate traleg Kyabgon rinpoche on the unity of detachment and engagement How can one bring Buddhism into ordinary everyday life? it’s a question often asked by new dharma practitioners, particularly in the West, where dharma is not as culturally ingrained. the question is a legitimate one, given the fact that Buddhism puts such a tremendous emphasis on meditation and the virtues of liv- ing a contemplative life. the answer, as the teachings point out, is that contem- plative and active life cannot be separated, that to live in this world is to interact with other living beings. While Buddhism teaches the virtues of detachment and solitary contemplation, and encourages prolonged periods of self-reflection, it also gives equal weight to the value of practicing ethical conduct. in daily life, Buddhism instructs us to follow the three trainings: sila, or ethi- cal conduct; samadhi, or meditative concentration; and prajna, or training in transcendental knowledge. When we practice mindfulness and awareness, sound ethical practice, and self-reflection, these three trainings help us perform the virtues of generosity, patience, vigor, and so forth. an important aspect of the journey toward enlightenment is the view that outside and inside phenomena, while separate on a relative level, are essentially the same. the instructions of sila, or ethical conduct, not only provide guidelines and support for the practice of mindfulness and awareness, but they also help us to generate virtues such as generosity, which can be expressed by offering encouraging words to someone who is forlorn or discouraged, or by providing physical assistance to an infirm person, or by feeding the hungry. the virtue of patience involves practicing courage in the face of difficulties and adverse circumstances, where disruptive actions might threaten to crush our spirit. the virtue of vigor offers an active stand against laziness and the self-absorbed com- placencies which might interrupt our commitment to excellence, or which might inhibit us from following through with our spiritual vows and intentions. in this way, Buddhism teaches that detachment and engagement with the world and daily life are the same, all the time, at the same time. life is seen as a constantly changing display of phenomena, an ongoing journey offering us the opportunity to detach ourselves from negative and disturbing states of mind, and the chance to learn how to act in the world with transcendent virtue. the practice of sila, or ethical conduct, is supported by the practice of sama- dhi, or meditative concentration, which in turn is yoked to the prolonged self- reflections of prajna. all three trainings teach us to incorporate the practice of dharma into daily life and to finally ask the essential questions: What is ultimate reality? What is my true nature? What is the “self”? What is enlightenment? Perhaps in the orthodoxy of our Western practice situations, we think almost exclusively of people coming through the meditative dharma gate. But for some people, doing hospice, prison, or homeless work is the dharma gate they enter through. — Paul Haller charliejenKs