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Lions Roar : July 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2009 65 creature. Today, such a role is played by the writer who finds herself a spokesperson for non-human entities communicating to the human realm through dance or song. This could be called “speaking on behalf of nature” in the old way. Song, story, and dance are fundamental to all later “civilized” literature. In archaic times these were unified in dramatic performance, back when drama and religious ceremony were still one. They are reunited today in the highest and greatest of performance arts: the grand scale of european opera, the height of ballet, the spare and disciplined elegance of Japanese Noh theater, the almost timeless dance-and-story of Indonesian Gamelan, the wit and hardiness of Bertold Brecht’s plays, or the fierce and stunningly beautiful intensity of Korean P’ansori performance. Performance is of key importance, because this phenomenal world and all life is of itself “not a book, but a performance.” —NOveMBer, 2007 return to the (Political) World By JOHN TArrANT Politics is the art of the possible. — OTTO vON BISMArCK Forget the self and you’ll help others. — ZeN KOAN Politics and lobbying are a mark of being human. We can ignore partisanship to some extent, we can try to avoid it, we can hide ourselves in peaceful places and call ourselves pure if we dare, but that’s not as interesting, or even as kind, as the world of delusion within which politics has its being. Politics belongs in the general realm of imperfection, self- deception, desperate hope, and congenial affection we call civilization. That’s where the bodhisattva, who is interested in the fate of others, hangs out. Also, if you indulge in politics, certain personal implications accompany you; you don’t get away without being transformed by the material you are working with. To consider politics is to open yourself—your mind and body, your naked and apparently unoffending skin, your naive hopefulness, and your joy in human company—to a tsunami of lies, humbug, drivel, false promises, masquerade, hypocritical piety, prejudice, greed, murder, and fattening food. To consider politics is to dive into this Hokusai wave of inauthenticity and to say, “Hmmm, this seems like a situation I can work with.” —SePTeMBer, 2006 For 30 Years the Best of Buddhism in America: Commentary PHOTOByGreGlASKeyIllUSTrATIONByTONyMATTHeWS