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Lions Roar : May 2014
and unchanging conclusion—that “with great power comes great responsibility”— I hear that as a reminder to myself, even a scolding. We underestimate what we can do. We make excuses. I do. I know I do. But for two hours in a theater, I know how it feels not to. I try on the weight of that responsibility. I sense that awesome power. Naturally, I got excited about the release of the newest Superman movie, Man of Steel. (It’s now on DVD, et cetera.) And in some ways, I got that same feeling I’ve gotten my whole life, that same resonance. But this time, there is something new in the mix for me, something almost unbear- ably powerful and sad. Most of the trailers for Man of Steel strongly emphasize the relationship between Superman and his fathers: Jor-El on kryp- ton and Jonathan kent on Earth. In a few cases, the ads are even set to the fathers’ voices. What I find is that as I watch, I am also identifying, for the first time, with the fathers. For sixty seconds, I am watch- ing Superman as if he were my own four-year-old son. I am send- ing him into that fight, into that danger, hoping he is ready, wanting to say or do exactly what he needs, to offer the words that will spur him to embrace who he most needs to be, who the world needs him to be. Instead of flying into the fight myself, I’m watching my son as he disap- pears into battle. It’s wrenching. It can’t help, of course, that Boy, as I sometimes call him, has taken to dressing as Superman. He has a Superman T-shirt and Superman underpants. The combina- tion is known in our family as “going full Superman.” When he goes full Superman, he feels a little stronger, a little more grown up. I love this, and I take every opportu- nity to remind him that Superman’s job is not fighting bad guys; it’s protecting everyone else. “Protect” is a word we use a lot at home. He likes to protect his little sister. He likes to protect his friends. Being Superman, he gets to play that it’s his job. And then, if he’s tired of it, he can take it all off and just be a crazy boy. Two-year-old girl, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be a superhero. But she is at the magical age where she is starting to gain autonomy in the world. She can do new things every day, all by herself. She makes mistakes, and she gets frustrated, but more often than not, she completely overestimates herself. She thinks she can do anything. It looks as if she’s test- ing limits, but really, she’s bumping into them. Until she does, she has no idea they’re there. These are things I want for my children. And when they’re older and their temper- aments no longer tend toward playacting, I want them to keep this sense, not only of responsibility and purpose but also of the power to make it all real. I don’t care whether they ever frame it in Buddhist language. If they feel it deeply enough, perhaps all that talk will just be extra. But that’s my language, and so I think in those terms, in phrases like “all beings.” I want them to feel that call, that pull to offer themselves to all beings, everywhere. At the end of one of the trailers for Man of Steel, we see Jor-El and Superman floating in space, high above Earth. Jor-El says to his son, “you can save them. you can save all of them.” And he means it. His son knows, in that moment, that it’s true. This is what I most want to tell my kids. This is what I want to tell everyone. It’s what I want them to believe. ♦ Flying between blue sky and dark space, Superman closes his eyes and just listens. In that moment, he’s Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of compassion, who hears all the cries of the world. DHARMA REALM BUDDHIST UNIVERSITY Opening the mind; touching the spirit. A classical education for a contemporary world. BACHELOR OF ARTS IN LIBERAL ARTS MASTER OF ARTS IN BUDDHIST CLASSICS Accepting applications for FALL 2014 UKIAH, CA | 707 462 5486 WWW.DRBU.ORG SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2014 18