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Lions Roar : May 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2012 61 wave, and come back to the phrase just as you came back to the breath during the previous part of this meditative exercise. Take a full five minutes to roll this simple question around in your mind. Then drop the phrase itself and just return to your breath, letting your mind ride on that natural reminder of the beauty of this present moment. Are you surprised by what came up in these few minutes? I always am when I do this work. Sometimes my mind returns to a role model, someone who seems to embody the ideals I hold. Sometimes a certain quality that I have noticed about myself (or one that I wish to develop) comes up and I am left with a pro- found curiosity about what it would be like to live with that at the core of who I am. As a result of this contemplation, you can discern what you would like your personal mandala to look like. The Sanskrit word mandala refers to concentric circles that form a type of organizational chart. In the center of a Buddhist mandala there is usually a central buddha, lineage figure, or deity, and around it are concentric circles that contain its emanations, its associ- ates, and so on, to the point finally that all sentient beings are represented. We all create such mandalas for ourselves, without necessarily realizing it. Whatever you take as your chief motivation is at the center. For example, if you put the classic American dream of “get- ting ahead in life” at the core of your mandala, then your life may revolve around a job you do not find real meaning in, accumulat- ing all sorts of luxury items that eventually break, and finding a stereotypical “perfect” spouse who is, in fact, not perfect for you. Conversely, if the motivation at the cen- ter of your mandala is that you want to be a kinder person, then the circle around it will include expressing kindness to your friends and family. Then it might expand to a wider circle that includes kindness at work, at social gatherings, or while traveling. If you put kindness at the center of your mandala then you will build a lifestyle based on who you want to be, not what you want to acquire or do at work. Take my friend Taz Tagore, for example. Taz is a naturally generous and aware person. I believe that these qualities are at the core of her mandala, and that’s made her a strong mother, a wise entrepreneur, and cofounder of the Reciprocity Foundation, a foundation helping home- less youth in New York City. She has had a profound effect on hundreds of individuals through discerning the good qualities of generosity and kindness in herself and moving them to the center of her mandala. What you would like your life to revolve around is up to you. Is it your career? A quality you want to cultivate? Meditation practice itself? For each of us, our core motivation for personal change will look different. That’s why it’s important to figure it out, and then intentionally develop a support structure, our own personal mandala, to make that resolution a success in our lives. LODRO RINZLER is a Shambhala Buddhist teacher and the author of The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation. Already Broken NOAH LEVINE There is an often-told story in my tradition about the Thai Forest tradition master Ajahn Chah and his apparent attachment to a certain drinking glass. Sitting around with some other Buddhist monks, nuns, and lay students discussing dharma and enjoying some tea, someone asked Ajahn Chah something like, “You’ve been teaching us about impermanence and how everything is constantly changing. You’ve told us that being attached to any- thing in this transient world will always cause us to suffer. Yet it appears that even you, who has renounced all worldly posses- sions, have become attached to that special drinking glass.” Ajahn Chah replied with something like, “It is true, I do enjoy this drinking glass. I like the way it holds my tea. I admire the way the sun shines off it, at times creating tiny rainbows. This is my favorite glass, but I do not cling to it, because to me this glass is EMBRACING Change ➢ page 90