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Buddhadharma : Summer 2019
ASK THE TEACHERS 21 ROSE TAYLOR GOLDFIELD: In an important sense there are no Buddhists; there are only human beings. We cannot know the journey of another human being—even Buddhist ones. They, like each of us, are not Buddhism’s end product. For me, Buddhist practice is about how I am in relationship with my own experience, others, and the world. Through my prac tice, I gradually find greater ease in these relationships. But being Buddhist can also come with a cost. I have spent my life surrounded by Buddhists and in Buddhist practice, and I have felt deeply hurt by Buddhist prac titioners, teachers, and communities. At the same time, I too behave in ways that are incompatible with my Buddhist ide als, my human ideals. Nevertheless, I do believe my practice increases my ability to see these actions, admit to them, and to heal and resolve them in relationship with others. As is often the case for Buddhists, it was my wounds that brought me to Buddhism and that also confused my relationships with Buddhist practices and other people. Communities of healing inevitably attract wounded people. But our wounds help us relate with others, to empathize with their pain. Our wounds hold wisdom and the seeds of healing. If you feel drawn to Buddhism, do not abandon your wounds or your doubts. Approach your engagement as an experi ment—with an open mind and a willing heart—and see what happens. Keep your own intuition and sense of yourself alive and strong. The true path is a cocreation between your teachers, their teachings, and the living, breathing, complex crea ture that you are. It is vital for us all to speak and act against injustice and harm perpetrated in Buddhist communities. We just need to be careful of being judgmental. When you are critical, also invite curiosity about why things are the way they are. Try to be with your experience in a friendly, yet intelligent, way. And be careful of expectations—par ticularly ones you place upon yourself. We may expect a fast, frictionfree, linear progression to awakening, but the path weaves and winds in unexpected ways. It is full of more magic than I could ever have predicted. I let myself down, then surprise myself with my strength and love. I ride the waves of emotion and experience and am glad to have the teachings, guides, and fellow experience surfers on my journey. I hope you find what you are looking for—it’s looking for you, too. Rose Taylor Goldfield is cofounder of Wisdom Sun, a practice and study community in San Francisco CLAUDINEGOSSETT