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Lions Roar : May 2010
do in meditation and the outer transformation of society. The id Project regularly stages new efforts, including responsible consump- tion month, and a lecture on complementary currency systems and social interdependence. another event, a fund-raiser, was a medita- tion marathon for twenty-four hours in the display windows of a carpet store on Broadway. These aim to help people recognize the interconnectedness of all things and the community inherent in that realization. early on a Monday morning, in a diner near union square, nich- tern, thirty-one, is full of ideas and questions, wondering out loud. he believes there’s a natural interaction between spiritual practice, art, and social activism, that Buddhism and social action should flow seamlessly together. Buddhists who don’t want to become po- litically active frustrate him; to nichtern, a shambhala teacher and student of sakyong Mipham rinpoche, a responsible life requires activism. “we meditate to develop more mental sanity and aware- ness, and this leads to more generosity,” he says. “how can this not lead to being involved with the problems of the world?” nichtern doesn’t have levine’s magnetic, abrasive charm or an eyebrow-raising bio, but he is smart and thoughtful. his ideas are expressed in the 2007 book, One City: A Declaration of Interdepen- dence. of the dangerous inclination to dwell on the past, he says, “we escape into rehashed moments of fantasy, falsified memories of what could or might have been that are more mentally photogenic than this present moment.” Fear he describes as “the awkwardness of stepping into a new neighborhood of our mind. if we don’t in- vestigate our own life and place in the world we get buried alive in a coffin of unexamined fear.” nichtern talks the talk of his generation, of people who grew up surrounded by computers and other electronic gadgetry, whose consciousness was formed during the all-about-me, greed-is-good reagan years. he dissects his generation’s “normal” mindset to offer clarity to other young people trying to find their way. “Practicing interdependence is an ongoing practice of getting and staying connected to the real internet,” he writes, “getting con- nected to both ourselves and those around us. we have to practice it, not just think about it, because our habitual tendency to disconnect from ourselves and others—both personally and culturally—has enormous momentum.” another youthful Buddhist earning a national voice is waylon lewis of Boulder, Colorado. he’s a columnist with huffington Post and other online sites, and the founder and editor-in-chief of the online magazine “elephant.” The magazine, lewis says, focuses on “anything that helps us live a good life, a fun life, good for other people and our planet.” elephant’s contents—appearing under the headline “Mindful life”—include yoga, organics, active citizenship, conscious consumerism, ad- venture, the arts, wellness, and “non new-agey spirituality.” The site’s Buddhist philosophy is not so much proclaimed as marbled The Power of Forgiveness Noah LeviNe on what it’s meant in his own life i have wiTnessed the power of forgive- ness most fully in my work with prisoners. while working at san Quentin state Prison as a counselor and meditation teacher, over and over i witnessed deep healings of men who had committed violent crimes. as these inmates approached the inner pains of their past and acknowledged that their own suffering had been spilling out onto others, they were able to start a process of internal forgiveness and com- passion that eventually led to personal com- mitments to nonviolence—commitments that in turn made the communities to which they returned a safer place. some actions may not be forgivable, but all actors are. For the actor, the person whose own suffering has spilled onto other people, there is always the possibility of compassion. There is always potential for mercy toward the suffering and confused person that hurts another. early on in my own meditation practice, i clearly saw that i had been in a lot of pain for a long time and that my pain had affected others in incredibly unskillful ways. Then i began to see that the people toward whom i had been holding resentment had also been in pain and that they had spilled their pain upon me. This allowed me to begin to separate the person from the action and truly see the con- fused being behind the hurt. This was the hardest part: not associating the people with their actions, but seeing them as confused human beings trying their best and failing miserably, just as i had. i found trying to take that attitude toward everyone in my life in- credibly challenging. it took years of trying and failing to come to a real sense of this un- derstanding. ♦ From Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries, by noah levine. Published by harpersan- Francisco, 2007. 43 SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010 ➢ page 72