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Lions Roar : January 2017
A Time to Perfect Our Compassion BHANTE SUDDHASO The Buddhist monk Ajahn Chah said, “Anything that inspires us to see what is true and do what is good is proper practice.” Christmas is an excellent example of this. At first glance, it may appear to be non-Buddhist, but on closer examination we see that it provides an opportunity to practice several aspects of the Buddhist path: generosity, consideration, kindness, and mutual regard. In particular, the practice of gift giving is a physical enact- ment of the principle of compassion. This is especially relevant when we recall that our actions arise directly from our mind states: the perfection of compassion as a mind state naturally manifests as physical acts of kind- ness and generosity. If we find that we do not readily act for the well- being of others, that indicates there is a need for further development of inner compassion. That can be developed by giving gifts to others. BHANTE SUDDHASO is a Buddhist monk in the Thai Forest Tradition. He lives in New York City. “We’re Celebrationists” RACHEL NEUMANN I remember my first Christmas present. One December morning, on the California commune where I grew up, the grownups dressed up like a green dragon. A man crouched inside the huge papier-mâché head while others were the body, cavorting to the sound of a drum. We children were encouraged to line up and, one by one, put a hand in the dragon’s gaping mouth. My desire for a present warred with my fear of those giant jaws. I closed my eyes, stretched out my arm, and pulled out a small homemade train. My fingers closed tightly around the rough wood, proud to have something I’d earned with my bravery. Now, as an adult, I spend Christmas with my family. We bring in the potted blue spruce, add twinkling lights, and spend the afternoon with Chinese food and a movie in homage to my immigrant Jewish ancestors. We are “celebrationists,” my chil- dren say, and the day is an opportunity, amid the constant hub- bub, to notice our bravery, honor the darkness, and celebrate the light. ♦ RACHEL NEUMANN is the publisher and editorial director of Parallax Press and the author of Not Quite Nirvana. PHOTO:BUDDHISTINSIGHTS LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2017 69