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Lions Roar : January 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2009 112 Zen has particular strategies and helpful tricks for training the mind, but its main consequence is a bigger view, or rather non-view of things—an ability not to be trapped by our own minds as we move through the world. It offers something at an angle to what we want and fear— an angle different from all other possible angles. Meditation is a willingness to do nothing, to not flinch from what is hap- pening, to not think what you have always been thinking, and to not give the answers you’ve rehearsed but that are already be- coming inert. We are in a culture that has fallen into certain traps because it thinks in straight lines, and straight lines are not common in nature. The way out of such traps won’t be to join in the dogfight over re- sources. It will be in terms of cre- ativity and identifying freedoms of various kinds so that the dogfight is less important. It has become obvious that fighting over oil is a harder path than developing alter- native sources of energy, and that all alternatives are not equal. It will help us that people actually like to think in ways that are not afraid or selfish. People will buy a Prius not because it saves them on gas money—it might be a better deal to buy a less efficient car and pay for the extra gas. But we might buy a hybrid be- cause it connects us to the web of life, and it is its own kind of art object, and it might move us toward a better connection to the planet. We don’t know that any given action will help the planet, but this is an example of consciousness doing something unexpected and not fearful, and in the long arc, that sort of move is good for us as a culture and for the living systems we are part of. In thirty years time, we’ll be offering something ancient and enduring: a possi- bility of being at peace and being unafraid in the world, of loving what we do in the world as it goes through its changes. If we are doing the inner practice well, the moves we make will go deep into our culture and people will notice, “Oh that’s the way to do things, that works,” rather than “that’s Buddhism.” I’m interested in the moves that are Buddhist but don’t have a brand name on them, like Leonard Cohen’s songs. Those moves will turn up more and more as Buddhism becomes more native in the West, and they will appear whenever we have a sense of participation in the world, that we belong here, and that there is a way to be free here, now. JOHN TARRANT, Ph.D., is a Zen teacher and director of the Pacific Zen Institute. He is author of Bring Me the Rhinoceros and The Light Inside the Dark. A Path to Positive Habits of Mind by Sylvia Boorstein IN THIRTY YEARS time, be- ing a Buddhist will become normalized in America. Twen- ty years ago, my friend Jean tried to explain to her grand- daughter why she was trying to dislodge the hornets’ nest under her eaves without kill- ing them. She said, “As a Bud- dhist, I try to preserve life.” Her grand- daughter replied, “Nobody’s grandmother is a Buddhist.” No more. As the teachings of the Buddha continue to be widely avail- able through books, urban practice cen- ters, and mainstream news media, more people will identify themselves, if not as Buddhists, then as followers of the teach- ings of the Buddha. The assumption among Westerners that being a Buddhist equals being a med- itator will give way to the broader idea that being a Buddhist means dedicating oneself to transforming afflictive habits of mind to habits that lead to clarity and peace and goodwill—by means of an in- tentional practice. Such practices might include meditation but might also be so- cial action or studying texts or identifying with revered teachers or becoming part of a sangha. The emphasis in practice will continue to shift from becoming liberated to developing compassion. Next 30 Years continued from page 73 GREGEDWARDS