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Lions Roar : May 2014
meditation cushions statues . incense bells & gongs contemplative garden jewelry & gifts Please use keycode SSA Stay connected Sign Up Online for Emails like us watch us learn with us Sales Buddhist Teachings New Products Request a Catalog 866.339.4198 dharmacrafts.com DharmaCrafts THE CATALOG OF MEDITATION SUPPLIES since 1979 dharmacrafts.com shambhala sun may 2014 11 The Practicality of the Profound liKe a lot of faMilies, we have a screen prob- lem. Sometimes we’ll all be in the same room on our own screens, separated from each other, from our environment, and ultimately, from ourselves. We share the space, but otherwise we’re in our own worlds. When people talk about distraction these days, this is usually what they mean. It’s a very real prob- lem, and to help us deal with it, the meditation tradi- tion offers us helpful techniques to create gaps and pauses in which we can unplug and reconnect with ourselves. But as simple and immediately beneficial as that is, it could also be the first step on a path that goes very far—all the way to enlightenment, in fact. In this issue, we take a deeper look at the prob- lem of distraction. It is not just a modern obses- sion. According to Buddhism, it is ego’s fundamental defense mechanism. What we are actually distracting ourselves from—what we are protecting ourselves against—is the open space and full intensity of reality. Enlightenment is both a promise and a threat. Take a look at what are traditionally called the three doors of liberation, which Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us about in this issue. The three doors are no self, no identity, and no goal. Is there worse possible news if we’re holding onto the experience of ourselves as solid, continuous, and fixed? Liberation sounds good, until we realize that what we’re liberating ourselves from is ourselves. From ego’s point of view, enlight- enment is the worst possible news. To shield ourselves, we must always stay occupied with goals, distractions, entertainments, and experi- ences. In fact, you could argue that our very world is a form of distraction. We need other to confirm self, and so we create an entire universe of percep- tions, emotions, and concepts to protect ourselves against the ultimate reality of no self, no identity, and no goal. Distraction is a form of ignorance, and as Chö- gyam Trungpa Rinpoche pointed out, ignorance is extremely clever. The ways that ego creates constant distractions, entertainments, and occupations are myriad and deceptive. In her insightful teaching in this issue, Judy Lief unpacks the world of distraction layer by layer. She takes us on the journey of work- ing with distraction, a path that starts with taking a few minutes away from our screens to breathe some fresh air, and ends when we’re face-to-face with the complete openness and intense energy of enlight- ened mind. This is the union of the practical and the pro- found, and it is Buddhism’s great genius. If igno- rance is the root of our suffering, then the antidote is deep insight into the true nature of mind and reality. So the really practical solutions are found in profound understanding. And profound under- standing is found in addressing the human condi- tion. Real practicality is profound; real profundity is practical. Chögyam Trungpa talked about the spiritual path as a kind of surgery. Cutting through our dis- cursive thoughts—or our screen addiction, for that matter—is like making the first incision. It is only the beginning of the operation. In the end, we must cut through to the very root of our suffering—our distractions, our struggles, our fears, our very expe- rience of self and reality. If we don’t do that, if we stop at the first incision, we will not really be cured. This union of the profound and practical is what Buddhism offers us. —Melvin Mcleod, editor-in-chief PHOTOByMEgUMIyOSHIDA