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Buddhadharma : Summer 2009
to India three times. He was a great propagator of dharma. His student, Milarepa, was a wandering penniless yogin, and his student, Gampopa, was an abbot. All had very different relationships to wealth, property, and money. John TarranT: If we’re doing meditation in action, meditation in the world, we don’t give people a rigid rule about what to do with money. You can do dharma really well in different ways. I like the variety that’s possible. You can be quite happy and be poor. And yet there are people who don’t really under- stand dharma and try to be poor in principle, and are often very unhappy. They don’t participate in the culture in a way that would just make life easier for everybody. You could have a lot of money and be great with it, or you could be needy and clingy and always wanting more. Money is an independent variable where happiness is concerned. If you have a meditation practice and if it’s working, you’re probably happy and you also probably are generous, because generosity is deeply part of the dharma. Practice also leads you to see through, to deconstruct, the relationships you have that might be delusory, and allows more intimate, loving, and generous relationships with each other. DaviD Loy: Practice also helps us become more mindful, more aware, of the anxiety that tends to arise when money prob- lems occur, rather than simply responding to that anxiety. Sharon SaLzberg: And there also is a radical revaluation of both who we are and where genuine happiness is to be found. DaviD Loy: One thing I’ve noticed in the last few years, espe- cially since I moved back from Japan, is how in North America we have a lot of dharma and a lot of Buddha but not as much sangha. It strikes me that this current crisis is going to push us in that direction. It’s possible that financially things are going to become an awful lot worse and that isn’t necessarily all a bad thing from a dharma standpoint. It may encourage the development of sangha, of community—depending on each other rather than our bank accounts. Sharon SaLzberg: That’s already happening. In traveling around to various communities, I see sheets available for people to offer help and ask for help in these trying times. It’s quite beautiful to see. John Tarrant, Roshi, is the director of the Pacific Zen Institute based in Santa Rosa, California. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and is the author of Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Koans That Will Save Your Life. He grew up in rural Tasmania, Australia. Sharon Salzberg is one of the founders of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. She is the author of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience and The Kindness Handbook. David R. Loy is the author of Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution and co-editor of the forthcoming book, A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency. He is Besl Chair Professor of Ethics/ Religion and Society at Xavier University in Cincinnati. For many people, the current financial breakdown is not simply a crisis of status. It’s a real crisis, about eating and having shelter. But there’s also a level of humiliation. That’s worth examining. — Sharon Salzberg (froMtoP):Pilarlaw;lizaMattHews;XavieruniversityPHoto:luKeolson He said, “Well, I’ve found a real interest in cooking. And then sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and my leg seems to be twitching.” But that seemed to be about it. Things rise and fall. We gain. We lose. Someday all of us, if we’re not hit by a bus, will get a diagnosis. At that time, the question will be what is valuable about life, what do we love, how do we help each other? And one of the things we love is helping each other. buDDhaDharma: Money is also a skillful means. In the Tibetan tradition, you have the example of Marpa, a wealthy land- owner, who used his wealth to become a translator and travel buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 20 0 9 42