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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2 0 1 7 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 21 from yourself as another object. My understanding of a buddha is one who is fully awake to the nature of reality as-it-is, one who has such clarity and skill in means that he inspires beings to awaken. One aspect of an awake experience of reality is that self and other are, as Suzuki Roshi often used to say, “Not one, not two.” Is your concern that you don’t perceive these ideal beings? But can you perceive moments of wisdom or compassion, true kindness or selfless activity in the beings right in front of you, or in you, yourself? Are there beings who, by the way they live their lives, inspire you to make an effort to live with greater kindness, compassion, and equanimity? Suzuki Roshi encouraged us to see buddha in everyone. I had the distinct impression that he could see buddha even in me. If you and I want to realize and actualize awakened mind in this very body we have been given, we need to understand that we have everything we need right here. There is nothing wrong with us, nothing we need to “get” from “out there.” We just need to practice zazen wholeheartedly with no gaining idea, with faith in buddhanature and zazen, and let go of our attachments. Suzuki Roshi said, “Zen is making your best effort in each moment, forever.” —Summer 2004 How do we retain passion in life and still follow the teaching that we should accept all of life with equanimity? Narayan Helen Liebenson (contributor 2002–2016) I don’t think there is an inherent conflict between living passionately and living with equanimity. Not only can passion— loving engagement and dedication— coexist with equanimity, they can work together harmoniously. There are no “shoulds” regarding equanimity. We cultivate equanimity because it lessens the suffering in life. Equanimity means responding to the conditions we encounter with inner balance and relaxation. It’s about responding with wisdom and compassion rather than reacting with aversion or clinging. Being equanimous doesn’t mean being compliant, complacent, or resigned. And it has nothing to do with indifference. The passion to contribute what we can is a form of love. Passion only turns into a problem when we try to control the outcome of our efforts. When we find others aren’t cooperating with our vision, or are in direct opposition to it, what may have begun as care, passion, and love can turn into burnout, anger, frustration, disappointment, irritation, and impatience. This is attachment, not love. —Fall 2009 I received a breast cancer diagnosis in January and have almost finished chemotherapy, which will be followed by radiation treatment. Many cancer survivors say that attitude is key to survival. I ’m confused about where to stand between accepting impermanence and having the hope and desire to live until my old age, which may help my recovery. Photomarylang