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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2 0 1 7 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 23 Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (contributor 2005–2016) In the West, impermanence often has a negative association. While the initial reflection on the truth of impermanence or the inevitability of one’s death might be unpleasant or even shocking, deeper exploration leads to the freedom to live life fully in the present moment. If you become sad or depressed while reflecting on impermanence, look closer at your experience. You’ll discover it is your attachment that causes you to suffer. Once you recognize that attachment, notice how you experience it in your body, your emotions, and in your mind. You may notice tensions in your body, restrictions in your breathing, or agitation in your mind. Through gentle physical exercise, skillful pranic breathing exercises, and mindfulness–awareness practices, you can release those negative habits. We are often more familiar with our tensions, sadness, and negative thoughts; we need to release them and become more familiar with open awareness. As you experience more clarity and openness in your body, breath, and mind, rest in the space that has become clearer. Bring clear attention to that opening. In that openness, you can discover peace and freedom. That openness is the source of limitless positive qualities. This discovery is the real purpose of impermanence practice. Each one of us can realize: “Yes, it is true, I am dying. Not only am I dying, but thousands are dying at this very moment.” Death is not personal. It is not a failure. It happens to all living beings. —Winter 2007 I was born male, but after many years of confusion, I’ve come to t he conclusion t hat I’m actually a woman, and I’m now seeking sex- reassignment surgery. As a Buddhist, I feel conflicted by t he teac hings on no-self and t his uns hakable feeling t hat t here is a deep, hidden trut h about me t hat I need to express. Am I wrong to embrace t his sense of true self? Sallie Jiko Tisdale (2014–2016) As human beings, we are always broken in some way; our existence is marked by ignorance and confusion. But over time, we become willing not only to accept our karma but also to dance with it—to risk vulnerability, to examine our tender places, to be uncomfortable, and finally to stand up for ourselves and say, “This is who I am.” As you say, you sense a “deep, hidden truth” about yourself and you need to express it. Everyone feels this way, I think. To one extent or another, we are longing to be seen and recognized as we secretly know ourselves to be. We struggle to find congruence between our inner experience and our outer relationships. So we work to bring the physical body and our appearance into congruence with the felt self—through our clothing, how we wear our hair, how we speak and stand, whom we choose as friends and peers. What you describe is what I think of as the “authentic self,” the urge to live in this world in the most whole way possible. For some of us, it might mean braces or a different haircut; for others, it may mean monastic robes and a shaved head. For a certain number of people, it will require gender- reassignment surgery. So yes, embrace your authentic self completely. If that means you need to make some practical adjustments, you will have plenty of company. —Winter 2014 PhotoJanineguldenerPhotokimcampbell