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Lions Roar : September 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2013 48 to be done. Make peace with the world you inhabit. Take one minute—this minute right now—to enfold your day in dignity. Tuck in the sheets, straighten the covers, and fluff the pillows. See for yourself if making the bed makes a difference in your head. KAREN MAEZEN MILLER is a teacher at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles. Her most recent book is Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life. Here’s the Good News All of our confusion and negative actions share one positive quality, says TYLER DEWAR: t hey can be purified. For many people, one of Buddhism’s most attractive features is how it views our makeup as human beings and what happens when we become confused. From the Buddhist perspective, the most basic dimension of our minds is buddhanature, which is completely free of any fault or defect. It is understandable that many people are attracted to a spiri- tual tradition that teaches that human beings are fundamentally whole. Yet how does a tradition like this work with confusion, disturbing emotions, and harmful actions? Mahayana Buddhism says that the difference between them is that buddhanature is fundamental to the nature of our mind, while our confusion is incidental and temporary. This basic relationship between confusion and buddhanature is crucial to understanding the Buddhist view of becoming a better person. In The Words of My Perfect Teacher, the great nineteenth-century master Patrul Rinpoche states that negative actions deserve the bad press they get because they harm ourselves and others in ways big and small. But, he continues, negative actions all have one positive quality: they can be purified. Some people are surprised that Buddhism has so many prac- tices for purifying negative actions. In some cases, there is even a practice of “confession” that is employed. Whoa! Isn’t this what we left the other building to get away from? Yet in Buddhism, the practice of purifying negative actions is basically acknowledging confusion as confusion, reconnecting with the basic goodness that underlies it, seeing the possibility of doing things differently, and, finally, moving on and starting fresh. Remorse and regret are a tricky topic in the West. We may be so put off by the idea of “guilt” that we do not want to experience remorse at all, regarding it as a fast ticket to a painful guilt trip. But if we can distinguish guilt from genuine remorse, there is a lot of healing we can experience. The basic difference is that guilt focuses on an untrue, negative self-image: “I” did such-and-such bad thing, and therefore “I” am Time to Make Your Bed You may not want to do it, but if your life’s a mess, says KAREN MAEZEN MILLER, making your bed is the place to start. Before your feet hit the floor you’ve already run through the rea- sons. First, there’s not enough time. It’s pointless. You’ll just have to do it all over again. You have more important things on your mind. It doesn’t matter. No one will see it. You don’t care. You’re not uptight about it. It’s a waste of energy. You hate it. After all, you’re not Martha Stewart. In the one minute it takes to avoid making your bed in the morning, you can observe the ways you battle the reality of your life all day, every day. You might think it’s unfair to deduce all that from a tangle of sheets and pillows, but it’s not an exaggeration. The state of your bed is the state of your head. The bed and its adornments are a mirror of your psyche, a reflection of your thoughts and feelings, the locus of your dreams and nightmares. But more than that, your bed actually is your mind. Like all per- ception, your bed appears within your own consciousness. How do you respond to it? By habit, we respond with dualistic judgment. We divide the whole of our experience into the few precious things we like and the greater load of what we dislike, accepting the former and reject- ing the latter. Thus we move through our lives as if maneuvering through enemy territory, attacked on all sides by the overwhelming forces of displeasure. It’s no wonder that we have the urge to crawl back under the covers as if defeated before the day even begins. Luckily, this one piece of furniture not only diagnoses our ills but treats them as well. Transform your reality. Transcend dual- istic thinking. Face what appears in front of you. Do what needs