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Lions Roar : March 2017
Using this dialogue practice allows me to access more patience and courage. In short, it helps me develop deep acceptance. But here’s the tricky part: although there is absolutely no precedent whatsoever in my experience (or, indeed, in the history of the universe) that any kind of suffer- ing is ever permanent, deep acceptance even includes accepting that this particular instance of suffering might actually be The Big One, the one that is, in fact, perma- nent. Of course, accepting that possibility is difficult and scary, but this catechism lets me be more patiently and calmly present with the particular pain and fear that’s here now. Working with my mind in this way allows me to call myself to this moment—to notice my stories of delusive certainty, to notice my predictions of a certain and per- manent future, to notice my stories simply as stories. And noticing this, in turn, makes it more possible for me to do what needs doing. For me, this is an essential part of the practice of waking up, of not being taken in by Mara the Deceiver, especially when Mara arises inside my own head in the form of depression. JOSH BARTOK is a pastoral counselor and one of the guiding teachers of Bound- less Way Zen. Grief The struggle to distance ourselves from our grief only adds to our suffering. Acceptance, says CHERYL A. GILES, is the only true way to heal. SOONER OR LATER,we all experience loss and its inevi- table grief and suffering. As individuals, we grieve the death of loved ones and the loss of relationships. As a society, we grieve the victimization of so many black and brown bodies and the degradation of the environment. Must we accept the helpless, hopeless suffering associated with grief, or is it possible to transform suffering into healing and energized resolve? The first noble truth is that suffering exists. The Bud- dha taught that we should not avoid facing the pain of the human condition, and that doing so is itself a cause of suf- fering. Yet most of us meet losses with resistance and fierce attachment to a fixed, unchanging self or ego. We struggle to distance ourselves from the deep sadness and physical ache that accompany grief. PHOTOBYLIZBETHROEMER Mindfulness, that is, paying attention to our experience, moment to moment and without judgment, offers an anti- dote to suffering. By leaning in to the discomfort, we can be present to what we experience and sit with what arises: strong emotions, negative thoughts, and physical pain all become part of our practice. The Buddha teaches us that moving out of our comfort zone and into the world enables us to see how others live and suffer, and in this way we realize that—just as we do—others suffer and yearn to be free from suffering. This realization cultivates our compassion. It strengthens our capacity to care by opening our hearts and connecting us to wisdom, and our wisdom reminds us of our original goodness and potential for freedom. LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2017 64