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Buddhadharma : Fall 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 09 24 SEND yoUR qUESTIoNS By MAIL oR To TEACHERS@THEBUDDHADHARMA.CoM zEnkEi BlanChE hartman: This “passion in life” that you want to retain, is it different from wholehearted engagement in the practice of the Buddha Way for the benefit of all beings? Or is it different from deep appreciation and heartfelt gratitude for the gift of life? Does it have anything to do with a gaining idea or getting something you don’t think you have? According to my dictionary, the origin of the word “passion” is from the Latin verb passus, meaning “to suffer.” In English, passion refers to strong emotion, which could be either positive or negative, either love or hate. “Equanimity,” on the other hand, means evenness of mind, composure, serenity, tranquillity. It is true that in the buddhadharma we are encour- aged to cultivate the four immeasurables, or heavenly abodes: loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. I don’t see that cultivating equanimity would discourage loving life, or loving the world, or being joyful, but it would perhaps temper strongly held preferences and opinions, and the emotions that accompany them. My teacher, Suzuki Roshi, encouraged us to appre- ciate “things as-it-is.” He also said, “Just to be alive is enough.” Many Zen teaching stories end with the punch line, “Just this!” or “Just this is it.” This teaching of accepting all of life with equanimity, or even with gratitude, is a very compassionate teaching. The events of our life will be whatever they will be, depending on the causes and conditions in any given moment. Of course, our intentions and our actions of body, speech, and mind are part of those causes and conditions. Whatever arises, we are free to choose whether to respond with passion or equanimity. gEshE tEnzin Wangyal rinPoChE: Enlightenment is not a state of passivity or indifference. Equanimity involves seeing through your wisdom eye and not ask thE tEaChErs Zenkei Blanche hartman is former abbess of the San Francisco zen Center Geshe tenZin WanGyal rinpoche is a lineage holder of the Bön dzogchen tradition of Tibet narayan lieBenson Grady is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center quEstion: How do we retain passion in life and still follow the teaching that we should accept all of life with equanimity? (lEFT-RIgHT):BARBARAwENgER,MARyEllENMCCOURT,MARylANg