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Lions Roar : September 2006
In the last of the famed ox-herding pictures, the disciple returns to the world with open, helping hands. That includes, says Zen teacher JOHN TARRANT, the messy, neurotic, imperfect world of politics, the very place where the bodhisattva way is practiced and our realization is put on the line. Politics is the art of the possible. OTTO VON BISMARCK, August 11, 1867, in conversation with Meyer von Waldeck Forget the self and you’ll help others. DESHAN XUANJIAN, Zen koan POLITICS AND LOBBYING are a mark of being human. We can ignore partisanship to some extent, we can try to avoid it, we can hide ourselves in peaceful places and call our- selves pure if we dare, but that’s not as interesting, or even as kind, as the world of delusion within which politics has its being. Politics belongs in the general realm of imperfection, self-deception, desperate hope, and congenial affection we call civilization. That’s where the bodhisattva, who is interested in the fate of others, hangs out. Also, if you indulge in politics, certain personal implications accompa- ny you; you don’t get away without being transformed by the material you are working with. Return to the (Political) Wo r l d JOHN TARRANT is author of Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy, and director of the Pacific Zen Institute. SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 57