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Lions Roar : January 2014
opposites. We suffer if we get the idea that this isn’t supposed to happen to us. But sickness and aging don’t happen because we’re doing something wrong. So the first thing is to recognize that life itself entails difficulty and conflict at times, and that’s not the problem. The real issue is how we respond. Adversity is an invitation to lean into what feels stuck, to bring the tools of mindfulness and compassion to the suffering that we have right now. Adversity and conflict are not so personal. We all experience them. Take some deep breaths. In the light of mind- ful attention, they dissolve and we become free. It’s a beautiful process to watch. Joseph Goldstein: It always piques my interest when my mind is going through some agitation or disturbance, because I know that it’s not because somebody else is making me suffer. It is interesting how often we don’t take responsibility for the suffering or disturbance in our own minds. We think it’s somebody else who is making us feel a certain way. It’s very empowering to realize that it’s totally up to us how we relate to the situation. Nobody makes us relate to our own emotions or the external situation in a particular way. Conditions may arise that bring up anger or fear, but how we relate to them is totally up to us. That’s the great gift of the practice—we learn how to relate to the difficulties with a freer mind. All of the Buddhist traditions are available and practiced in America today, which has never really hap- pened before in Buddhist history. Can you talk about the challenges of that, as well as the benefit of incorporating different methods? Joseph Goldstein: One of the interesting things that’s happening in the transmission of the dharma to the West is that so many different Buddhist traditions are being taught here. People have a wide range of possibilities in terms of how to undertake their practice. It’s a tremendous opportu- nity to learn from different traditions, but there are also some cautions. From my perspective, it’s good to do some initial shopping around—to taste different traditions and see which practice really resonates and inspires us. In some Buddhism is not some system or idea or set of beliefs. It is an invitation to have a direct experience of the mystery of your own body and mind. way, that’s the most important thing— that we get enough inspiration from the practice to actually do it. But then we need to go into the prac- tice in some depth before we again start to explore other traditions, because otherwise it can get a bit confusing. If it’s based on PHOTOBYJILLSHEPHERD 41 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2014