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Lions Roar : May 2015
BEGINNER’S MIND I’m Buddhist. My partner isn’t. Can it work? Of course! It’s lovely to be able to share your Buddhist practice—or anything else important—with your partner, but if you can’t, should it really matter? Healthy couples don’t have to be just like each other. (And if you think about it, it’s probably better when they aren’t.) Does your partner give you the men- tal and physical space needed to work on your practice? Do you, likewise, sup- port what’s important to them? If so, you’re fortunate, and no doubt better off than a lot of couples. Sure, it would be nice to make the car-ride to your next retreat together, but reuniting after a long weekend of meditative intro- spection will be pretty sweet, too. It all boils down to mutual respect: if you and your partner are truly accepting of each other’s practice and beliefs, even when they’re not shared, you should have no problem here. What is emptiness? A Zen master might whack you with his stick for asking such a question, never mind what he’d do to us for trying to answer it. Nonetheless, here goes. Emptiness is the central insight of Buddhism, and what makes it unique among religions. According to Buddhism, neither we, nor other beings, nor any phenomenon in the universe, has a permanent, separate, and independent core, soul, or identity. Another way to look at it is interdependence: all relative ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIER DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS What are you made of? According to Buddhism, people are made of five aggregates, or “heaps.” These are known in Sanskrit as the skandhas. They are referred to as heaps because they’re merely collections of parts without any central core. The five skandhas are: 1. Form Your physical body—traditionally, these are listed as the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. 2. Feeling The sensations you experience in your body, including all pain and pleasure. 3. Perception You have sense organs, and each of them has objects. Put them together—eye and light, nose and smell, etc. — and you have perception. 4. Mental formations All your concepts and thoughts, from the most mun- dane to the most grandiose. 5. Consciousness Simply put, this is your awareness of skandhas 1 through 4. With reflection and practice, you can begin to under- stand that all of these are fleeting. Like all conditioned phenomena, the five skandhas are subject to change and decay. When you are at peace with this fact, you can be free from suffering. RAYFENWICK SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2015 34