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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 39 knocked tentatively, fearful of waking her but even more terrified of facing my terror alone. Ruth, in her nightgown and nightcap, her hair in braids, invited me in. Not just into her trailer but into her bed. I realize this sounds scandalous. How can a dharma teacher coax a student into her bed and have the exchange be anything but... well... suspect? Yet there was nothing untoward about our moment together. Instead what unfolded was a marvel. Ruth, smelling of perfume and toothpaste, took me in as if my fear were nothing special, a simple human experience that revealed its insubstantial nature in the light of her unconditional acceptance. “Dukkha,” she whispered in my ear and fed me a cookie. She was utterly maternal in a way my own mother had failed to be. In a way she had not learned from U Ba Khin. She took me in. Just as I was. Broken. Frightened. Needy. And then, she sent me off. I felt as if my visit, rather than having been a burden to her, was instead the most enjoyable interruption of her sleep one could ever imagine. It was as if being with me had enlivened and com- forted her in the same way as being with her had enlivened and comforted me. Summer 2015 I Vow Not to Burn Out by Mushim Patricia Ikeda When I get desperate, which is pretty often, I ask myself how to not be over- whelmed by despair or cynicism. For my own sake, for my family, and for my sangha, I need to vow to not burn out. And I ask others to vow similarly, so they’ll be around when I need them for support. In fact, I’ve formulated a “Great Vow for Mindful Activists”: Aware of suffering and injustice, I, _________, am working to create a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. I promise, for the benefit of all, to practice self-care, mindfulness, healing, and joy. I vow to not burn out. It’s the first thing I give to students in my yearlong program of secular mindful- ness for social justice activists. I ask them to sign and date it, because each of them, through their work as community leaders and agents of change, is a pre- cious resource. Samsara is burning down all of our houses. We need a path of radical trans- formation, and there’s no question in my mind that the bodhisattva path is it. Speaking as a mother and a woman of color, I think we’re all going to need to be braver than some of us have been prepared to be. But brave in a sustainable way—remaining with our children, our families, and our communities. We need to build this new “woke” way of living together—how it functions, handles conflict, makes decisions, eats and loves, grieves and plays. And we can’t do that by burning out. Fall 2016 ➤ continued on page 91