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Lions Roar : November 2013
No one can do it for you. But you can do it. In Buddhism, there is no savior. There’s no one who’s going to do it for us, no place we can hide out for safety. We have to face reality squarely, and we have to do it alone. Even when Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, what they’re really taking refuge in is the truth that there’s no refuge. Not seeking protec- tion is the only real protection. So that’s the bad news—we have to do it alone. The good news is, we can do it. As human beings, we have the resources we need: intelligence, strength, loving hearts, and proven, effective meth- ods. Because of that, we can rouse our confidence and renounce our depression and resentment. But while no one can do that for us, help and guidance is avail- able. There are teachers—women and men who are further along the path—who offer us instruction and inspiration. They prove to us it can be done. Our fellow practitioners support our path, while never allowing us to use them as crutches. The Buddhist teachings offer us wisdom that goes back 2,600 years to the Buddha himself. We can go right to the source, because the lineage that started with Gautama Buddha is unbroken to this day. 5 There is a spiritual, nonmaterial reality. Some people describe Buddhism as the rational, “scien- tific” religion, helping us lead better and more caring lives with- out contradicting our modern worldview. It is certainly true that many Buddhist practices work very nicely in the modern world, don’t require any exotic beliefs, and bring demonstrable benefit to people’s lives. But that’s only part of the story. Buddhism definitely asserts there is a reality that is not material. Other religions say that too; the difference is that in Buddhism this spiritual reality is not God. It is mind. This is something you can investigate for yourself: Is my mind made of matter or is it something else? Does my mind have characteristics, like thoughts, feelings, and identity, or is it the space within which these things arise? Does my mind change constantly or is it continuous? Is it one thing or many? Where is the boundary of my mind? Is it large or small? Is it inside me looking at the material world outside? Or are my percep- tions and my experience of them both mind? (And if so, perhaps it’s the material world we should be questioning the reality of.) 6 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 47