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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
67 winter 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fading away. A feeling of anger at some- one might arise, but we know that we are not this anger. If we do not grasp at it or cling to it, its energy will dissipate. And as we inspect each mind-object, we are free, of course, to pursue those that are wholesome, kind, and enable us to alleviate the suffering of others, allow- ing those thoughts to become actions. The result of this practice is an open- ing of one’s heart to others, and to our- selves. It also leads to “epistemological humility,” which is a healthy skepticism about what we think we know. For exam- ple, last spring my wife and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. I have known her since we were twenty years old. I have seen her change over more than four decades. I know her as a friend, mother, confidante, a spiritual seeker, a former teacher and social worker. I know her medical history and the results of her DNA testing. I know her human birth to be a blessing unknown to either gods or hungry ghosts. But I can never know all her thoughts, feelings, and experiences, even after a lifetime spent together. Do we ever truly know another well enough to judge them as better, equal, or inferior to ourselves when each of us is, ontologi- cally, a ceaseless play of patterns—phys- ically, emotionally, perceptually, and in respect to consciousness? I think not. To some degree, the “other” remains a won- derful mystery that ever outstrips our concepts, feelings, and perceptions of her. My wife, therefore, is always new and surprising to me. We can say the same about ourselves. And in the face of such mystery, as we contemplate ourselves and others, the Buddhist approach is to do so with egoless listening to how the “other” presents herself, phenomenologically, to us moment by moment. Another name for such selfless listening is love. This, I believe, is what is meant in the statement attributed to Shakya- muni Buddha (perhaps apocryphal but certainly in the spirit of dharma) that, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Copyright © 2010 by Charles Johnson INSIGHT MEDITATION SOCIETY 1230 Pleasant Street, Barre MA 01005 • 978.355.4378 • www.dharma.org • email@example.com VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR RETREAT CENTER AND FOREST REFUGE SCHEDULES Enter the refuge of an IMS retreat Experience silence and simplicity Strengthen awareness and kindness Build a foundation for wise and compassionate action