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Lions Roar : March 2016
phenomena of life is the determining factor as to whether ours is a “Buddhist” view or not. As individuals, we have taken up this call. But we can no longer afford—if we ever could—to peer only at our individual selves when our collective species is at such great risk. Far from the perpetual loneliness and self preoccupation that our hyper-individualist, consumer culture serves up, the teach- ing of mutual co-arising—interdependence—is Buddhism’s great gift to the current moment. This being, that becomes; from the arising of this, that arises; this not being, that does not become; from the ceasing of this, that ceases. This teaching of interdependence assures us that we belong. That we are not only of this planet, we are the planet. That we are each other and are thus responsible, in our every action and how we show up in the world, for everyone else. As Buddhists, we must finally summon the courage to turn the lens of this most essential teaching of the Buddha upon the whole of our society and its conditions—not just the parts that we are willing to see. Here’s the thing: If our practice is not attenuating greed, hatred, and ignorance—and its social expressions of overconsumption, supremacy, and oppression—then we need to change our practice. The great inquiry and challenge of our time is: Will we widen the circle of sangha to finally include all beings? I hope so. Our very survival depends on it. REV. ANGEL KYODO WILLIAMS, SENSEI, peers at society, change, love, and justice through the lens of dharma. She sees liberation there. Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara: See the Truth Beyond Words Right now there is so much inflamed and hateful rhetoric in the world, so much splitting into “us” and “them.” It is a time when ideology is eclipsing compassion. So I offer the Buddhist truth of radical intimacy: to be so close to our own experience and the reality we’re living that we can see through the words and interpretations of other people to the heart of the matter. As the Diamond Sutra says, when we reduce self or others to an idea, we lose the truth: “Subhuti, anybody to whom the idea of a living being, or the idea of a soul, or the idea of a person occurs, should not be called a bodhisattva. The teaching is that anytime we fix on a word or idea about a person or thing, we miss the intimate truth—the churning activity of reality that is fundamentally without labels, con- stantly in flux, and moving toward complete transformation. A bodhisattva is one whose moment-to-moment aware- ness of this ultimate contingency leads to appropriate action unmoved by the slogans and ideologies of the times. When we are radically, utterly, in touch with our own unique experience of the world, we will not be infatuated with the controlling structures of the media or the marketplace. We can then offer the compassion of a bodhisattva. We do this through the cultivation of meditative practice, bringing us close to our own true nature, and through the study and critical questioning of the wisdom teachings. In this way, we learn not to be deluded by the words and ideas of others, but know for ourselves if the water we drink is warm or cold. ROSHI PAT ENKYO O’HARA is abbot of the Village Zendo in New York and author of Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges. PHOTOSBYCHRISTINEALICINO LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2016 42