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Buddhadharma : Fall 2009
15 fall 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly in the heart. It seems to me that the way we learn this is through life and death, through our direct experience of attachment, loving, separation, and loss, and through knowing the pain of separation and loss directly. Then, not by bypassing it or trying to convince ourselves that we shouldn’t feel it, but by deeply experi- encing that pain, we can learn to let go. In the monastic life we have to find a balance. If we have too much contact with family or with worldly conditions, we can lose track of why we’ve come here and what we’re doing. But also if we protect ourselves too much we can lose connection with lov- ing-kindness, compassion, and mudita, or “sympathetic joy,” and we won’t have the opportunity to develop equanimity in the particular areas awakened by that kind of contact with life. FRoM THE foreSt SaNgha NewSletter, APRIL 2009 thE PoEt’s ComPass Anne Waldman explains how the tantric poet travels in ten directions at once. ParaBola magazinE: Anne, you appear to forever be on the move. Flying from one country to the next, splitting your time between Boulder, Colorado, and New York City. In a way your writing has a similar quality in that it seems to move effortlessly through the mysticisms of the world (specifi- cally Buddhist tantra) and the avant-garde. What represents a constant in your life and in your writing? Are Buddhist tantra and the avant-garde even solid enough practices to move between? annE Waldman: I like to think we can travel literally and metaphorically in at least ten directions simultaneously, an old tantric trick. I find excursions to other countries and cultures expand the work in these rhizomic ways. Recent travels to China and Nicara- gua, for example, or to the Ajanta caves, and the Duravi slums in Mumbai keep a fluidity going, an awareness of other states of mind and artifacts that are exquisitely alive, not so solid. And whole populations that are seeth- ing, and vibrant ecosystems that need our care and attention, such as the cloud forest in Nic- aragua near the Mombacho volcano I recently visited, with its rare orchids and howler mon- keys. So there’s a kind of flow there. Dharma gates are endless I vow to open every one of them. Right? But the maps one travels also provide some structure and solidity, points on a poetry compass perhaps. And the work gets written in solid chunks on paper. As for the thread, or what binds, there seems to be more than one “constant.” There is this kind of vow, or view, I find very sus- taining that has to do with being haunted by impermanence, and how that in itself gener- ates a fierce passion and a need to act. The writing is a constant discipline, a practice in which the connection deepens toward medi- ating “reality” with all its intricacies, sense perceptions, and magic. I have always worked inside communities—poetical, political, cul- tural, dharmic. And poetry seems my best practice, my skill within these realms. I’ve been doing it all my life, and this so-called identity of “poet,” while marginal in some instances, feels like an unbroken path. FRoM “THE HU-MANATEE oF ANNE WALDMAN” By RoBERT DoTo, PUBLISHED IN Parabola, SUMMER 2009 raW lustful sEx We don’t need to reject or tame our sexual nature, says Pure Land teacher and author Caroline Brazier. Lustful sex is a useful source of energy on the Buddhist path. I am saddened when I hear of couples sepa- rating or reducing their relationship to mini- mal contact because one or both believes that being together diminishes their capacity for practice. Surely there is another way of view- ing our sexual nature and its relationship to the spiritual life. The idea of bringing our sexual expres- sion into the spiritual arena is not new. The precept on sexual misconduct has often been interpreted in the context of bringing mind- fulness and compassion into our sexual rela- tionships. What better way to experience the present moment than in another’s arms; to observe the arising of sensation in the rousing of the body as it receives their loving caress? What better way to know impermanence than in holding the body of the loved one and knowing that this, too, will decay? Such practices are no doubt valuable if one can hold such a cool, reflective mind in the midst of the passions of sexual encounter, but do they miss the energy that sexuality evokes? kIMSCAFURO