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Lions Roar : March 2009
63 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 Being human is a complicated affair, and Buddhism began and continues to evolve as a response to this challenge. it describes in great detail what is unsatisfactory and why, and then it offers practices, philoso- phy, and art to help transform this unsatisfactoriness into awakening—or, more accurately, to help us see the awakening that was always right there, inextricably a part of the very life we considered unsatisfactory. there are many forms of Buddhism and a variety of Buddhist practices, including meditation, ceremony, study, service, art, and devotion. practice is key, because it bridges idea and embodiment; it helps make the way real. in the asian cultures in which Buddhism first arose, there has been, broad- ly speaking, a distinction between monastic and lay practice. there’s obvi- ously much that they share, but monastics and lay people have often had different aspirations, which has led them to different forms of practice. to a larger extent than we sometimes realize, westerners have inherited this split. it’s easier to recognize if you think of monastic practice as including the retreats that laypeople attend, with the perennial end-of-retreat question about how to bring the experience into daily life. so i’ll speak of cloistered The Whole Way is Buddhism a transcendent path to enlightenment or a practical aid to everyday life? the way cannot be divided like that, Joan sutherland tells us. like the water system of the high desert, it flows in every direction and is found wherever we decide to tap into it. photos By antonio m. mora garcia www.flickr.com/photos/toniomora/