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Lions Roar : May 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2007 111 Compassion doesn’t just entail a great outpouring of emotion; it’s about skill- fully channeling our positive attitudes. In order to express our emotions skillfully, we need to be focused, with our senses intact and our wits about us. While it is important not to suppress our emotions, we have to learn to express them intelli- gently. That’s why it’s important to infuse them with detachment and equanimity. This combination is the very definition of compassion. As the Skill in Means Sutra makes clear: Venerable Lord, Bodhisattva great heroes guard against all attachments. They are like this: Dwelling in skill-in-means that is inconceivable, they course in form, sound, smell, taste, and touch—all of which are occasions for attachment —yet are not at- tached to them. When we fixate on other people as au- tonomous beings, we lose our equanimity in regard to the propelling force of emo- tion and thereby mentally solidify others’ sufferings into seemingly insurmount- able obstacles. Meditating on wisdom is the antidote to that problem. We have to remind ourselves that the sentient crea- tures we care about are also dependently originated, just like us; their real nature is emptiness. Even the confusions that prevent us from perceiving phenomena in a more fluid way are an expression of emptiness, for ultimate reality is not separate from our thoughts and emo- tions. This approach is about learning to deal with anger and jealousy as well as other conflicting emotions. We aren’t expected to eliminate them completely, but by learning to relinquish them with greater ease, we won’t be so predisposed to pursue and perpetuate their habitual tendencies. This integration of absolute and relative bodhichitta, or emptiness and compas- sion, is an expression of the Buddhist mid- dle view. Some people argue that our emo- tions will always lead us astray and that we have to be rational at all times in order to counteract their effect. Others maintain that our capacity to feel is paramount and that an overreliance on abstract thought threatens to impoverish our lives. The Buddhist view lies somewhere between these two views. The Buddha himself con- stantly emphasized the middle way: Katyayana, everyday experience relies on the duality of “it is” and “it is not.” But for one who relies on the Dharma and on wisdom, and thereby directly perceives how the things of the world arise and pass away, for him, there is no “it is” and “it is not.” “Everything exists” is simply one extreme, Katyayana, and “nothing exists” is the other extreme. The Tathagata relies on neither of these two extremes, Katyayana; he teaches the Dharma as a Middle Way. Bodhisattva practice is about trying to love and care for all people. All the sen- tient beings in samsara are suffering in one way or another. As Buddhism says, the mighty and powerful suffer too. The arrogant person is afflicted with arro- gance, the disdainful person with disdain, and the rich person with wealth. Shan- tideva goes to great lengths to describe how painful it is to accumulate, hang on to, and lose wealth, as well as to be ob- sessed by the constant fear that others are coveting it: The trouble guarding what we have, the pain of losing all! See the endless hardships brought on us by wealth! Those distracted by their love of riches Never have a moment’s rest from sorrows of existence. Some people try to shift the emphasis of mind training toward some kind of political or social activism. Mind train- ing’s sole concern is to train the mind; it has nothing to do with activism. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t engage with the world and support different causes, but when we do, we have to adopt a broader spiritual view. Our view has to be as wide as the sky, but our actions have to be directed precisely to whatever comes to hand. ♦ Excerpted from The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the Mind, by Traleg Kyabgon. © 2003, 2007 Traleg Kyabgon. Reprinted with permission of Shambhala Publications. AN APPEAL FOR THE PRECIOUS SEEDS OF TIBET Tibetan children, nuns and monks continue to escape persecution by making a perilous journey across the Himalayas to seek freedom in Nepal and India. Many arrive traumatized and destitute. With a sponsorship of $3.50 to $33 a month, you can help save a life and preserve a culture. To learn more please call or visit our website. www.Tibet Aid.org 877-Tibet-Aid Join us for Kessei (Monastic training period) held in spring and fall or for Sesshin. Limited scholarships available. For more information call 845.439.4566 or go to zenstudies.org Practice authentic Rinzai Zen as taught by Eido Shimano, one of the few Japanese Masters teaching in America today. DAI BOSATSU ENDO