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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
LARRY YANG 95 do we reconcile the aspiration to be of benefit with the inevitable harm we cause? How do we make all of it our spiritual practice? When I do metta practice, cultivating love and compassion toward all beings in all worlds and in all directions, there is an ancil- lary blessing that I hold in my mind: May I be loving, open, and aware in this moment; If I cannot be loving, open, and aware in this moment, may I be kind; If I cannot be kind, may I be nonjudgmental; If I cannot be nonjudgmental, may I not cause harm; If I cannot not cause harm, may I cause the least harm possible. Thus, even in my imperfections, even in my failures, I can still incline my heart toward freedom. This is how I see the paths of awakening and non-awakening interweaving. This is freedom in the midst of suffering. This is resilience despite the forces of violence and oppression. We can create beautiful lives right where the world is not yet awake. Each time we practice awareness and kindness, we transform not only our personal world but the world itself. We begin to be able to hold the unholdable, to connect the broken heart and the raging mind. We look for the precious wisdom embedded within that bitter rage, and as soon as we begin to look, we are no longer consumed by the rage itself. We turn toward the direct experience of despair and weave it into care, love, and, dare we say, freedom. This is the magnitude of our spiritual practice. It asks us to include all the contradictions and paradoxes of awakening and not awakening and everything in between. It is the in-between—the range from extreme to subtle, the spectrum connecting opposing forces—that constitutes the totality of our lives, our practice, and our freedom.