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Lions Roar : March 2006
So the door of psychology is good. The abhidharma literature of Buddhism represents a very rich understanding of the mind, which has been developed by many generations of Buddhists. If you approach the Western mind through the door of psychology, you may have better success helping people to understand their mind, helping people to practice in such a way that they can heal the mind and the body. The mind and body are very much linked to each other, and we can say that the practice of Buddhist meditation has the the protection of environment. The idea of self is removed, be- cause self is made of non -self elements, and the idea of man is removed, because man is made of non-man elements, mainly animals, vegetables, minerals, and so on. That means that in or- der to protect man you have to protect the non-man elements. It's very clear. So the door of ecology is a very wonderful door to open. And the door of peace, because Buddhism is about peace. The true Buddhist cannot refuse working for peace. And I think the door If you touch the phenoll1ena deeper and deeper, you touch the ultill1ate. The ultill1ate is not sOll1ething separated froll1 the phenoll1ena. power to heal the body and the mind. You see this very clearly when you study the basic texts of Buddhist meditation, like the Anapannasati Sutra, on the practice of mindful breathing, and the Sutra of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The practice of meditation helps us to release the tension-within the body, within the mind, within the emotions-so that healing can take place. Even if you take a lot of medicine, it won't work very well if the tension is still strong in your body and your mind. So the Buddha offers very practical methods, such as, "Breathing in I'm aware of body; breathing out I release the tension in my body. Breathing in I'm aware of the emotion in me; breathing out I release the tension in the emotion. I embrace my body and my feelings with the energy of mindfulness." The practice of releasing tension in the body and mind is the foundation of healing. In the beginning it helps to bring you relief. Then, with more mindfulness and concentration, you practice looking more deeply into the pain and the tension, and you find its roots, the cause of the ill-being. You discover the second noble truth. You can identify the source of that ten- sion, that depression, that ill-being. And when you identify the roots of the suffering, namely the second noble truth, then you begin to see the fourth noble truth, the way that leads to the cessation of the ill-being, the tension, and the pain. That is the most important thing to see-the path. If you follow the path, very soon ill-being will disappear and give way to well-being, which is the third noble truth. So the Buddhist principle is the principle of medicine. Another door that we should open is the door of ecology, be- cause in Buddhism there is a deep respect toward animals, veg- etables, and even minerals. In Mahayana Buddhism we say that everyone has buddhanature-not only humans but animals, vegetables, and even minerals. When you study the Diamond Sutra you can see that the Diamond Sutra is the oldest text on of feminism, the nondiscrimination between genders. The Bud- dha opened the door for women to enter the holy order and that was a very revolutionary act on his part. I think all these dharma doors should be opened wide so the West can receive the true teaching of the Buddha. These dharma doors all exist within the roots of Buddhism, but many genera- tions of Buddhists have lost these values. Buddhists should prac- tice in such a way as to restore these values to the tradition so they can offer them to other people. Conversely, do you see things in Western thought or knowledge that can contribute to Buddhism? I think that democracy and science can help Buddhism, but not in the way people might think. You know, the practice of democracy already exists in the Buddhist tradition. But if you compare it to democracy in the West, you see that Buddhist democracy is more grounded in the truth, because if you are a teacher and you have much more experience and insight, your vote has more value than the vote of a novice who has not got much insight and experience. So in Buddhism, voting should combine the way of democracy with the way of senior- ity. That is possible. We have done that with a lot of success in our community, because the younger and less experienced people always have faith and respect toward the elder ones. But, you know, many Buddhist communities don't follow that approach; the teacher decides everything and they have lost the democracy. Now we have to restore the democracy, but not as it is practiced in the West. We have to combine it with the spirit of seniority. Personally, learning about science has helped me to under- stand Buddhism more deeply. I agree with Einstein that if there is a religion that can go along with science, it is Buddhism. That is because Buddhism has the spirit of nonattachment to SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2006 55