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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
39 like to be able to call that rejection of our self just as we are “aspiration,” but all too often it’s just another word for self-hate. Sitting, first and foremost, is sitting with who we are—what we see in the mirror. Our practice is to sit and look and say to ourselves, over and over, “That’s me.” Cherish your questions, but do not chase after answers. Sit still amid your doubt, restlessness, loneliness, and anxi- ety. They are not obstacles to your prac- tice—they are your practice. Practice will expose the roots of our emotional distress. The Buddha taught, and our practice will reaffirm, that our underlying fear of change and our like to be able to call that rejection of alFredoChIzzonI©tIMdose I subscribe to and read a few different Buddhist journals, and probably read a book or two a month on the subject, and I’m constantly reminded that if I really want to develop my practice, I need to join a sangha. Despite the fact that I don’t have that opportunity here in Idaho, I’ve never really understood how joining a sangha would help my practice. My “practice” is Zen: the art or practice of being mindful. I try to meditate fifteen to thirty minutes once or twice a day (depending on whether I’m working fifty or sixty hours that week), and to be awake and present wherever I am, and in whatever I’m doing. so what is it I’m missing by not joining a sangha? How would it help me? What would I “gain?” (and is there really anything to gain?) I’ve asked myself these questions numerous times, but haven’t been able to answer them. Timothy David Orme Boise, Idaho I have tried attending formal sanghas, but it never felt right for me. since I am more in the stephen Batchelor mode of Buddhism, many sanghas are too traditional for my taste. It probably has to do with worldviews. The more our beliefs tend toward the mythic and traditional, the more we will need a formal group to provide structure for our practice. and the more we tend toward a rational and postmodern worldview, the less structure we will need. either way, we need contact with other Buddhists to act as real- ity checks, inspiration, and motivation. William Harryman Tucson, Arizona unavoidable physical vulnerability leads us in the futile attempt to hold onto something permanent, to imagine— against all the evidence—that our “self” can somehow be made invulnerable. Though we may start out with the fan- tasy that practice will be the road to that invulnerability, it turns out to be just the opposite. Practice teaches us to sit with the vulnerability we all try to avoid, and to gradually learn to abide within the ongoing flux of our ever-changing consciousness and ever-shifting physical sensations. When we first look into a mirror, we naturally focus on our own face and how we think we look to ourselves and oth- ers. But if we look longer, and gradually become less preoccupied with how we look, we may start to notice that the rest of the room behind us is also reflected in the mirror. Maybe there is even a win- dow in the room, and the world outside is also glimpsed in our mirror. The room, the window, the outside world—all that is also part of the “me” we see in the mirror. The more we look, the more we see in the mirror, the more we include, and the harder it is to draw a bound- ary between “me” and everything else in the mirror. It’s all “me.” So although you think you are sitting alone, you may gradually become aware that you are sit- ting in the midst of the whole world. If you’re reading this, you’re not practicing alone. You are connected to a community of fellow readers and prac- titioners who are all trying to find their way on the path. Let us enjoy our prac- tice together. Barry MaGID is a Zen teacher and founder of the ordinary Mind Zendo in new york. He is also a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and the author of Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide.