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Lions Roar : March 2016
Helping doesn’t have to be a big deal. It simply means taking care of what requires care in an ordinary way. This is natural and normal, once you see that we really are one body, not a bunch of contending individuals. It is as natural and normal to use Shan- tideva’s metaphor, as our fingers pulling a thorn out of our foot. Second, the Buddhist teachings on compassion mean there are infinite ways we can help, in obvious as well as nonobvious ways. The truth is that everyone, regardless of means and capacity, can practice compassion as part of a world movement for the inclusion and benefit of all. This means caring for others, ben- efiting them, and doing whatever we can to ensure a world in which there is more justice and more love than ever before. Humanity is now coming to a crunch point. The growing tide of compassion that began with the rise of our great reli- gions at more or less the same point in human history is about to crest. Humanity, with its highly charged backlash of terror- ism, and the earth itself, with climate change and species extinc- tions, are both speaking with loud voices. Now is the time for us to join forces in love and radical coopera- tion. There’s no choice. We need a vision and a practice path to help us in this necessary endeavor. Buddhism will help. ZOKETSU NORMAN FISCHER is the founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation. His most recent book is Experience: Thinking, Writing, Language and Religion, from the University of Alabama Press. Sharon Salzberg: Attention Sets Us Free In the Majjima Nikaya, the Buddha said, “The purpose of the holy life does not consist in acquiring merit, honor, or fame, nor in gaining morality, concentration, or the eye of knowledge. The purpose is that unshakeable deliverance, the Sure Heart’s Release, that indeed is the object of this holy life—that is its essence, that is its goal.” The sure heart’s release, the end of suffering, cannot be known without knowing suffering. Our cultural and personal conditioning may press us not to acknowledge pain, and that makes us feel very alone in our suffering. So when we explore suffering and the end of suffering, we discover not only free- dom but also our connection to one another. One of the most important things people need to hear today is that there is a path to end dukkha, or suffering, and that it is our own efforts that make the path real. People need to know that we have the capacity to really change our lives. In the Burmese tradition I was trained in, the method is extremely important, because it’s the method that sets you free. It’s your own practice. You can work with the greed, hatred, and delusion that cause suffering through training attention. Even the simplest act of deepening concentration is different than the way we usually live in this multitasking, crazy-pressured, fast- moving world. By training our attention, we see more deeply into the nature of things—into what causes our suffering and what really makes us happy. This is self-witnessed truth that no one can give you. But at the same time, no one can take it away from you, because this wisdom is born of your own clear see- ing. The Buddha was a human being who resolved his ques- tions about life through the power of his own awareness, and so can we. SHARON SALZBERG is a leading teacher of Insight Meditation and the author of many bestselling books—most recently Real Happiness at Work. PHOTOSBYLIZAMATTHEWS LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2016 40