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Lions Roar : September 2012
89 SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. HELP US BUILD the SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION We are an independent nonprofit dedicated to fostering the growth of genuine buddhadharma, meditation, and mindfulness in the West. We publish the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. And we’re more than just magazines— through our websites, sponsorships, conferences, and programs we serve Buddhist communities of all traditions. Help us build a strong Shambhala Sun Foundation so that we can, together, build a strong foundation for the dharma to flourish. To donate online, go to www.shambhalasun.com/donate or call toll-free at 877-422-8404 ext. 36 or mail your contribution to Shambhala Sun Foundation 1660 Hollis St., Ste. 701, Halifax NS, Canada B3J 1V7 BUILD BUILD SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION FOUNDATION FOUNDATION needs the stress of working its way out of the cocoon to build up strength and to dry its wings. Likewise, a master gar- dener told me that when you plant a sap- ling, it is better not to stake it if possible. She said that if the sapling has to secure itself in the wind and weather, it will put down stronger roots and be healthier for it. In this example, once again there is acknowledgment that growing inevi- tably involves a degree of pain or stress. The hothouse flower or the overprotected child simply does not acquire the tools needed to survive. MIDDLE WAY OF STRESS Clearly, a certain amount of stress is part of life, but how much stress and what kind of stress? How can we navigate a course that is challenging but not overwhelming? The Buddhist tradition acknowledges the reality of stress and discomfort. It is realistic, uncomfortably so, in describing the stress, pain, and suffering that accom- panies our individual and collective lives from beginning to end. The simple teach- ing of the first noble truth, the truth of suffering, may be the most difficult to understand and accept. We keep thinking that if we just fix this or fix that, tweak here or there, we can avoid it. We think that if we were smarter, prettier, wealthier, more powerful, living somewhere else, younger, older, male, female, with differ- ent parents—you name it—things would be different. But things are not different; they are as bad as they seem! Since it is unrealistic to hope for a stress-free life, and that would not be all that good in any case, it makes more sense to learn how to deal with the stresses that inevitably arise. In dealing with stress we need to look at both the conditions we face and how we are dealing with them. It is sometimes possible to remove the causes and condi- tions that are stressing us out, but other times it is not. So it is important to distin- guish between the two. If we can change our situation for the better, we should do so. There is no point complaining about The Middle Way of Stress continued from page 48