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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly SpRiNG 2 0 10 42 itself out in the telling and some redemp- tive aspect of it becomes apparent. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. Then the email might end, “So, you can hear that I am completely annoyed and irri- table and that I haven’t fixed that up, yet so I am grateful that it is you that I am writing to and that I can depend on you to hear me fraying at the seams and love me anyway.” The final gratitude is often enough to undo the mind’s grasp of the “I’m so mad!” story. It disappears— “Poof!”—just like that, and I end up laughing. Carol and I are teaching each other about love and emptiness. Jashoda lives in Mexico and we keep our connection going by reading books we’ve chosen together and talk- ing by phone once a month about what we’ve learned. Often, but not always, the books are explicitly dharma books. This month we are reading Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s The Joy of Living (new to both of us) and Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, which we both read long ago and think we recall as being something wonderful. I find that having “homework,” a task I need to complete by a certain date, energizes me. I like the feeling of being a disciplined person in relationship. I’m traveling all this month, and seeing the books as I pack and unpack at each new place keeps Jashoda and our pact of mutual support in my mind. Without my “study buddy,” I might not make the time to read these books or to process them in the same way. For me it’s a real blessing to know that I have friends who are interested in my inner life and are willing to listen as I explore it, and I love offering them the same attention. The forms my friends and I have chosen, exchanging emails and reading books, work for us. But the forms can be varied. I can imagine friends com- mitting to communicate regularly about their meditation experience, or about their progress in cultivating patience, or generosity, or truthfulness, or indeed, any of the virtues that are fundamental to Buddhist practice. The hallmark of any spiritual friendship is the shared commit- ment to partnering on behalf of awaken- ing. That’s what matters most. sylVIa BoorsTeIn is a founding teacher of spirit rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. she is a psychologist and the author of Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life. What if? Guidelines for Choosing a Teacher By Lewis Richmond You may be perfectly content to study and practice the dharma on your own, without a Buddhist teacher or commu- nity. But the time may come when you feel that isn’t enough, and you decide you want to seek one out. If that hap- pens, how do you go about finding a teacher (and by extension, a commu- nity) that’s right for you? It’s important to know that the wis- dom you’re seeking is already within you. It guides your spiritual search, and is the reason you are already on the path. So to some extent you can rely on your own instincts and intuition to help you. With that in mind, I recommend approaching your search as a five-step process: watch, ask, feel, try it on, and commit. Watch what the teacher does and says, and how he or she treats people. Kindness, friendliness, humility, a sense of humor, and a forthright and honest manner are qualities of spiritual matu- rity recognized by every Buddhist tra- dition. They are the precepts in action. laughing. Carol and I are teaching each other about love and emptiness. Jashoda lives in Mexico and we keep our connection going by reading books we’ve chosen together and talk- ing by phone once a month about what we’ve learned. Often, but not always, the books are explicitly dharma books. This month we are reading Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s (new to both of us) and Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game read long ago and think we recall as being something wonderful. I find that having “homework,” a task I need to complete by a certain date, energizes me. I like the feeling of being a disciplined ©ChrIstInealICInogIBroBInson