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Lions Roar : May 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 62 own capacity for freedom. Taking refuge in the dharma, we bring the path of awakening to life. Taking refuge in the sangha, we acknowledge our interconnectedness. The Buddha The Buddha is the personification of an awakened being, a per- son who knows unshakeable inner freedom, peace, and com- passion. In this context, the Buddha represents not only the historical Siddhartha we are familiar with, but also all the great teachers throughout time who embody a depth of wisdom and compassion that changes the world around them. The Buddha is a symbol of the third noble truth (cessation)—that it is truly possible to know the end of anguish and struggle, to discover a heart that is liberated from confusion and pain. The Buddha also points to the potential for awakening that lives in each of us. The Buddha encourages us to discover for ourselves the same freedom that buddhas throughout time have found. The Buddha is a symbol of possibility—encouraging us not to despair but to dive deeply into our hearts to find the wis- dom that can heal and liberate us. When we think of the Buddha, our immediate association may be with the statue seated on a lotus flower that lives on an altar, in a museum, or in our garden. We can be inspired by the stories of the Buddha, yet still feel minimal relationship with this historical figure. The path and practice invite us to bring the Buddha out of abstraction and into reality, to bring the Buddha to life. Many of us have glimpsed the Buddha in others and ourselves. It is our buddhanature that inspires us to reach out a hand to comfort and support a friend in need, to forgive someone who has harmed us, and to say no to injustice. It is our buddhanature that grieves at the pain in the world and rejoices at happiness and love. Our buddhanature brings us back to the cushion when we face diffi- culty and pain, trusting that we can find the under- standing and steadfastness to meet our life. When our eyes and hearts are open, we glimpse buddhanature shining in countless moments. My first teacher lived in a simple mud hut, never know- ing where his next meal would come from, yet he welcomed us unruly Westerners with a beaming smile and a limitless willingness to offer the teach- ing of wisdom and compassion. I have friends who are raising a severely disabled child with boundless patience and love; for them it is a spiritual journey. My own heart is touched on a daily basis not only by the great people of this world who have dedi- cated themselves to justice, peace, and compassion, but also by the many acts of generosity offered by strangers. Our practice of awareness opens our eyes to the many acts of peace, kindness, and com- passion we encounter in our daily lives. In addition to serving as an example of the buddhanature that lies within all of us, the Bud- dha was a teacher, a healer, and a guide showing the way to peace. He empowered students to dis- cover the same liberation within themselves that he found. He wanted graduates. He showed the way to the end of suffering. The teachers I have been privi- leged to practice with in my own life have offered the same generosity. As Westerners we are prone to be either in awe of or mistrustful of authority. The Buddha discouraged blind faith in teachers, but also honored their place in the journey of discovery and transformation. To find a teacher who will not only console us in times of difficulty but will also challenge our delusion is a great blessing. We sense their buddhanature in the fact that they want noth- ing from us. They want neither honor, flattery, nor MAY 60-63.indd 62 MAY 60-63.indd 62 3/6/08 11:31:28 AM 3/6/08 11:31:28 AM