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Lions Roar : March 2016
and revered communicator, like the Buddha, like Jesus, like Thich Nhat Hahn, like Pope Francis, sends the message to the world that ends suffering. Maybe the message will say, “If we do not figure out how to communally care for each other and the world, we won’t have a world to take care of. The path is peace. Start now.” SYLVIA BOORSTEIN is a teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition and the author of such bestselling books as Pay Attention, for Goodness’ Sake. Rebecca Li: Everything Is Interdependent I think the most important teaching people need to hear today is that everything happening in the present moment is a manifestation of innumerable causes and conditions coming together and constantly changing. This understanding motivates us to cultivate clear aware- ness of every emerging moment and to appreciate how each moment is entirely new. When things are going well, we are thankful for how numerous positive conditions have come together, including our own actions and those of many other people, to make it possible. When things are not going so well, we are less likely to fall into despair when we recognize that despite our best efforts, the causes and conditions needed to bring about the desired outcome were not fully present. This understanding helps us embrace the ups and downs of life with equanimity and gives us the will to persist in the face of difficulty. Since causes and conditions are constantly chang- ing, past failure to fulfill a goal does not mean future success is not possible. We know that through our actions, we can still cultivate the necessary causes and conditions for success. This attitude is particularly important for solving complex problems requiring long-term commitment, such as climate change, social injustice, and war and violent conflict. We simply do our best, while knowing clearly that we don’t have full con- trol over the outcome because many other causes and condi- tions are at play. In this way, we do not become discouraged and fall into hopelessness. If we truly integrate this understanding into every aspect of our life, the way we respond to situations will be slowly trans- formed. As our capacity for wise and compassionate action grows, we will lessen the harm we cause others and be a more positive force in the world. REBECCA LI teaches in the Dharma Drum lineage established by Chan master Sheng Yen and is a sociology professor at The College of New Jersey. Geoffrey Shugen Arnold: We Are Responsible As practitioners of buddhadharma—and as human beings— what are the skills we need to live together and share this earth with everyone and everything? If we are truly to face what is real—both the beauty and vast- ness and the cruelty and inequity—we could learn to be patient in an impatient time, and know that patience is not passive or inactive. There is no time to indulge arrogance or apathy. We are responsible. Can we each recognize and live this? Can we turn the light around—using whatever path we find to be true and can practice sincerely—so we can see the source of our creation and destruction? Deep within each of us is a desire to live and die without regret. May we harmonize our deepest aspirations with our every thought, word, and deed. May we see that every hin- drance in the mind creates a wall that divides us and brings the certainty of conflict. May we discover that ultimately there is no hindrance in the mind, and therefore no fear. May we renounce righteousness and choose the path of real peace. As humans, we have become too many, our reach has grown too far, our destructive powers are too great, and our world is too small to live in servitude to our selfishness, small-mind- edness, and fear. As never before, we are called to liberate the many beings in the mind and our world, and to realize and actualize the equality of all dharmas. In other words, we are being called to practice reality, realize wisdom, and embody compassion—in every way we can—as our basic nature of selflessness. May we, each and together, answer that call with the whole of our lives. GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD, SENSEI, is the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and the Zen Center of New York City. Gina Sharpe: The Heart Is Tender The essential teaching of the buddhadharma is that suffering is universal and not foreign to any life. To respond to suffer- ing with kindness and compassion is fundamental to Buddhist mind/heart training. Often our reaction to suffering is to recoil and armor the heart. We believe that suffering signals that something has gone terribly wrong or someone is to blame for this very human experience. This produces enmity, hatred, and warfare, which are ubiquitous in our world today. In the face of loss and pain, the Buddha encouraged us to cul- tivate the brahmaviharas. These four qualities of heart—loving- kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity—are powerful antidotes to conflict, inviting loving wisdom into rela- tionship. Our usual reactivity views the world as hostile, trig- gering isolation and self-protection. Instead, the heart can be trained to engage others with loving-kindness and compassion, based on friendly awareness, mutual resonance and natural connectedness. This is not separate from the instructions uttered some twelve times in the mindfulness instructions of the Satipatthana Sutta: to LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2016 44