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Buddhadharma : Win 2012
WINTER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 55 PHOTOS(LEFT—RIGHT):BRIANSPIELMAN;LIZAMATTHEWS;ZENMOUNTAINMONASTERY GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD: The primary disadvantage of an emphasis on meditation is when it’s seen as being separate from everything else. With any religion or spiritual path, there has to be some sense that it’s having a direct effect on one’s life. Otherwise, what’s the point? The greatest challenge of all is to realize the nonduality of spiritual practice and everyday life. How do we actually mani- fest our practice in a genuine way? In that sense, meditation, as the entry point, is the easy part. The much more difficult part is figuring out how to integrate practice in our lives. BUDDHADHARMA: So how does one do it? Should we be look- ing to other practices in addition to meditation, such as the practice of merit? SHARON SALZBERG: It seems to be a natural progression to explore these questions, to ask what’s going to bolster my practice? What’s going to help enhance this experience? If one has sincerely followed a meditation technique for some period of time, one invariably sees a change. Then it just takes a bit of guidance to realize, well, this is not only about what happens in those twenty or forty-five minutes; this is about bringing the practice into one’s life. You know it’s not that easy when somebody looks at the traditional texts and finds that the Buddha said right liveli- hood means you can’t hunt or fish. I’ve had people come to me weeping and saying, “I work in an insurance company and our policy is to say ‘no’ to any claim. That’s the first answer I have to give people, and they don’t always know that they should come back and appeal. Is that right livelihood?” These areas of inquiry are very vital and dynamic, and everybody who is engaged in them is like a pioneer. We’re all trying to find our way forward in contemporary times. And that’s where a community of practitioners can be help- ful. It’s also our responsibility as teachers to guide people by Monks at Sogenji Temple in Okayawa, Japan, participate in daily work practice (samu) PHOTO ROLAND SCHMID Meditation is very accessible and immediately engages people in a practice. People are understandably looking for a tool, for something practical, that will actually change their lives. —Sharon Salzberg