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Lions Roar : July 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN jULy 2009 27 SPIRITuAl PRACTITIONERS OFTEN ASPIRE to live alone in the mountains among wildlife, yet a city can be an equally or an even more supportive environment for practice. unlike the wilderness, cit- ies don’t have many trees, aside from those in parks, but they do have lots of people and—if you think about it—people are natural too! Because cities are filled with so many people, there are many more opportunities to practice kindness, compassion, joy in others’ happiness, and equal care for all. In the city, even if we hole up in our apartment, we can’t escape the fact that others surround us. There is the old woman next door, a transient who sometimes sleeps on the stoop, and there is the drummer upstairs. If we try to isolate ourselves too much, we won’t be able to practice loving-kindness. If, on the other hand, we cultivate a sense of being interconnected—of being a part of our city in the same way that we are a part of our family—then we will develop loving care and kindness for all of our city’s people, and we will have a lot of opportunity to practice. living in the city, we brush up against so many people each day. Sometimes just smiling at someone or opening a door can be the practice of loving-kindness. On the bus we can give an elderly person our seat. If we take a taxi or pick up our laundry, there is always a way to extend warmth in some way. There are many homeless people living on the street. Sometimes they sit with a cup or a hat in front of them, asking for money. Sometimes they hold signs that say, “I’m hungry, can you help me?” Sometimes they are friendly and sometimes they look depressed or cold. They often have plastic bags full of belongings. It seems to mean a lot to them when someone takes the time even to notice they are there. PhOTOBYJERRYlINdhOlM Inner Cities With noisy neighbors and the homeless camped on street corners, city life offers many opportunities to practice kindness. DziGar KonGtrul rinpoChe on how urban living can open our hearts. DziGar KonGTrul rinpoChe is the founder of Mangala Shri bhuti, an organization dedicated to furthering the wisdom and practice of the longchen nyingtik lineage. his most recent book is light Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence. When we have a family, we never get our monthly paycheck and think, “I’m going to just blow this!” We always think of our family—the rent, the groceries, and our children’s education. Knowing that our family depends on us, it is rewarding to see how our support benefits their lives. We never feel that our fam- ily members owe us something and we never question why we are giving them our support. A sense of responsibility sustains us, so that we feel motivated to continue. Now, I am not suggesting opening our doors and inviting everyone in. Maybe that is not so realistic. People are complicat- ed; it’s not always so easy to help. Yet there are small ways that we can extend warmth—small gestures that bring a lot of meaning to our lives and to the lives of others. Through participating in this way we help shape our city, our state, our world. If we adopt all the people of our city as our family, anything we can do for them brings fulfillment. Mothers and fathers find so much pleasure in doing things for their children. They don’t really separate themselves from them. If their children feel happiness, it is their happiness too—pure joy. It can be the same with our adopted city-family. In a family every indi- vidual may not have the same needs. There are always some members who need more help, who may have an illness or run into difficult situations, and then there are always those who have an easier time supporting themselves or better luck with what they want to do. We try to do what we can to support everyone, to hold equal care for all.