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Lions Roar : May 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2009 66 one of the most important things we can do is inspire people to do the work they need to do to discover their innate possibilities. Pema Chödrön: On the spot, right? Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche: On the spot, in any given moment, and in an ongoing way in their life. gathering merit requires continuously applying yourself, in order to reap the positive fruit that you want. The intention to be happy and free from suffering must be supported by the wisdom and skillful means that allow one to work fruitfully with one’s own mind. Pema Chödrön: One of the things I’ve learned from both you and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche is that when we feel pain, it is a moment of truth. Instead of saying something’s wrong, that something bad has happened, we can say, “Oh! I am seeing and feeling very old karmic seeds ripening. Right now is the moment when I could do something different.” At that moment of truth, we could choose to do the habitual thing or we could choose not to sow those same old seeds again. At that very point, we can no- tice our opportunity to practice, rather than being preoccupied with feeling that we just messed up again. JANuARY, 2006 Aung San Suu Kyi I have heard you referred to as a female bodhisattva, a being striving for the at- tainment of buddhahood— the perfection of wisdom, compassion and love—with the intention of assisting others to attain freedom. Oh, for goodness’ sake, I’m nowhere near such a state. And I’m amazed that people think I could be anything like that. I would love to become a bodhisattva one day, if I thought I was capable of such heights. I have to say that I am one of those people who strives for self-improvement, but I’m not one who has thought of myself as fit to make a bo- dhisattva vow. I do try to be good [laughs]. This is the way my mother brought me up. She emphasized the goodness of good, so to speak. I’m not saying that I succeed all the time, but I do try. I have a terrible temper. I will say that I don’t get as angry now as I used to. Meditation helped a lot. But when I think somebody has been hypocritical or unjust, I have to confess that I still get very angry. I don’t mind ignorance, I don’t mind sincere mis- takes, but what makes me really angry is hypocrisy. So, I have to develop awareness. When I get really angry, I have to be aware that I’m angry—I watch myself being angry. And I say to my- self, “Well, I’m angry. I’ve got to control this anger.” And that brings it under control to a certain extent. What motivates you to meditate as a daily practice? The main reason why I meditate is the satisfaction that I derive from the knowledge that I am doing what I think I should do, that is, to try to develop awareness as a step toward understand- ing anicca (impermanence) as an experience. I have very ordi- nary attitudes toward life. If I think there is something I should do in the name of justice or in the name of love, then I’ll do it. The motivation is its own reward. What is the core quality at the center of your movement? Inner strength. It’s the spiritual steadiness that comes from the belief that what you are doing is right, even if it doesn’t bring you immediate concrete benefits. It’s the fact that you are doing something that helps to shore up your spiritual powers. It’s very powerful. SepTeMBeR, 1997 kd lang I have always been struck by your willingness to expose yourself in your music—your heart, your desires, your pain. That kind of openness and vulnerability, which takes courage, is a core dharma principle. I guess that’s been there. I would like to think I’ve always been Buddhist; it just took me a while to find my teacher. Your song “Constant Craving” is a beautiful and accurate restate- ment of Buddhism’s first noble truth. I think “Constant Craving” just comes out of the experience of being human. The realm of desire is such a common theme in my music. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I like it so much. [Laughs] Many musicians try to communicate emotion through elaborate ornamentation. Your music tends to be spare and straightforward, and yet it conveys so much emotion and meaning. Is that quality of space and simplicity something you have consciously cultivated? I could go on about this topic for hours. There are many rea- sons for that kind of quality in the music I do. Number one, I am a Buddhist, so emptiness is everything. When people ask, “Do you look at the glass as half full or half empty?” I always say, “I’m Buddhist. I look at it as half empty!” [Laughs] To me, space is everything. Space is the opposite truth to sound, so it is as important as sound. As a producer, I’m always looking for space, and I’m always looking to create that pocket, especially for the voice. I grew up in the Canadian prairies, so I know about big spaces. I phOTO©LeSLIeKeAN