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Lions Roar : March 2006
act and the way they treat people. That is why King Prasanjit told the Buddha, "Dear teacher, every time I see your community of monks and nuns, I have great faith in you." He meant that the sangha is capable of representing the Buddha. The Buddha with the sangha can achieve a lot of things. I don't think a teacher can do much without a community. It's like a musician, who cannot perform without a musical instrument. The sangha is very im- portant-the insight and the practice of the teacher can be seen in the sangha. It has a much stronger effect when you share in the practice and the teaching as a sangha. So for the dharma to really be powerful we must transform not just ourselves but, in effect, society. Yes, that is Mahayana. That is going together in a larger vehicle. That is why Buddhism should always be engaged. It's not by cut- ting yourself off from society that you can realize that. That is why Mahayana, the great vehicle, is already seen in what they call the Hinayana, the lesser vehicle. Do you think that one reason you emphasize community and society as a practice is the terrible conflict that you saw in your home country of Vietnam? Did seeing a society destroyed by war, seeing the terrible stakes involved, heighten your concern for our community life? 54 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2006 I think that's true. It is the insight you get when you are in touch with the real situation. But it is also emphasized in the tradition. We say, "I take refuge in sangha," but sangha is made of individ- ual practitioners. So you have to take care of yourself. Otherwise you don't have much to contribute to the community because you do not have enough calm, peace, solidity, and freedom in your heart. That is why in order to build a community, you have to build yourself at the same time. The community is in you and you are in the community. You interpenetrate each other. That is why I emphasize sangha-building. That doesn't mean that you neglect your own practice. It is by taking good care of your breath, of your body, of your feelings, that you can build a good community, you see. You've been in the West now for a long time. What do you think are the best ways to present Buddhism to meet the needs of Western studen ts? I think Buddhism should open the door of psychology and heal- ing to penetrate more easily into the Western world. As far as religion is concerned, the West already has plenty of belief in a supernatural being. It's not by the law of faith that you should enter the spiritual territory of the West, because the West has plenty of this. '"d ::r: o """Ì o @ ti o Z 'Tj 0:; t"rJ