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Lions Roar : November 2012
THERE’S AN OLD ZEN SAYING: “The world is topsy-turvy.” In other words, it’s an upside-down, crazy world. This may seem like an extreme statement, but only for a minute. If craziness means that we keep doing dysfunctional and destructive things, even when ensuing disasters are apparent, then it does seem that the world is crazy. Who is not aware of this? Jon Stewart makes his living off it. But after we finish laughing, we start crying: the state of the world is painful to everyone. Yet the world careens onward in its topsy-turvy course, causing a pervasive sense of inward dread we can’t afford to entertain. This would explain the religious fanati- cism, lunatic politics, myriad addictions, and other social and Topsy-Turvy World The strength of mind that comes from meditation, says NORMAN FISCHER, can help us end the denial that keeps a world of problems spinning. psychological aberrations that are so commonplace now. Deep down we all know the fix we’re in, but we can’t afford to face it. It’s just too much. At present, several national economies, ours included, are dan- gerously teetering. Jobs and basic social services are becoming scarce, governments are bankrupt, and the economic arrange- ments that have served us more or less (usually less) reasonably for so long begin to seem untenable. Behind this economic crisis, and the pain and injustice it has revealed, is a looming ecological crisis. The climate is certainly changing, yet there are still people who deny the existence of human-caused climate change, though the scientific consensus is clear. So we remain divided and con- fused. Climate change isn’t on any serious political candidate’s agenda these days. It’s entirely off the table. Which is crazy. What’s the alternative to all this denial? Is there a way we can digest, hold, and live with the scale of our current problems? The Buddha noticed that it is nearly impossible to take in all the suffering of the world, and yet there is no avoiding it. So he PHOTOBYGARYKING Zen teacher and poet NORMAN FISCHER is founder of the Every- day Zen Foundation. He served as co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center from 1995–2000. He has written many books of prose and poetry, including Sailing Home: Using Homer’s Odyssey to Navigate Life’s Perils and Pitfalls. SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2012 21