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Buddhadharma : Summer 2019
88 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY a positive social orientation.” I understand “autonomous and independent” as being willing to walk a path that means we’re going to feel alone at times, and at times we’re going to be alone. Some times it’s being willing to be afraid, to be insecure, to not know how this is going to work out, to have doubt and not to be stopped by that. In other words, there is an inner sense that something we trust is guiding us. In practice and training, to bow and serve, to let go of our pref erences and just move with the sangha is a powerful and essential practice, because we’re so tethered to our preferences and judgments. But at every step along the way, we need to do so from a place of finding out for ourselves. In a sense, we need to be walking alone at the very same moment that we’re practicing within the one body of the sangha. It’s not just about going along with the sangha—that’s a kind of blind obedience. A “positive social orientation” is having spirit, joyful energy; it’s a sense of aliveness, of being interested in and deeply appreciating life. Sometimes that can be hard. We may meet with tragedy, loss, injury, assault, which is why we must also have resilience. At times we must face sustained difficulty, such as confronting social bias based on race, gender, or sexual orientation, or attending to a difficult time in our country, in our world, with the planet—challenges that may not pass quickly. How do we sustain a state of presence, awareness, and engagement? How do we cultivate peace, joyfulness, and serenity? We can’t base our liberation on solving every problem. I think of our earth crisis as our quintessential gate of faith and resilience, of being dedicated to the path of freedom from suffering while fully aware that there is suffering, today and tomorrow, that we cannot stop. That’s what the bodhisattva vows are saying. Our liberation has to How many times have you thought, I can’t ? And then—and then—you take another step and the path opens before you.