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Lions Roar : March 2016
be mindful internally of our own experience, externally of the experience of others, and both internally and externally of our connection with others. Compassion is empathy for suffering arising from the heart’s fearless capacity to recognize universal kinship and belonging, transforming resentment into forgiveness, hatred into friendli- ness, and fear into kindness for all beings. It mandates that we extend understanding, warmth, sensitivity, and openness to the sorrows of the world in a truthful and genuine way. The late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche called this the spiritual warrior’s tender heart of sadness: “This experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely open, exposed. It is this tender heart of a warrior that has the power to heal the world.” GINA SHARPE is the guiding teacher at the New York Insight Medita- tion Center. Ethan Nichtern: Embrace Your Goodness On an individual level, I think it is crucial for Buddhists (or Awake-ists, as I like to call us) to embrace the basic goodness of our humanity. Classical Buddhism often emphasizes the need to liberate ourselves from false views of the self and of reality. For this reason, the lineages we have inherited often emphasize the negation of confusion. They speak the language of “no’s” and “non’s,” as in no-self and nonattachment. Yet we live in a cynical and self-critical era, full of insecurity and lack of confidence in human wisdom. Often Buddhists don’t feel empowered in their own practice, seemingly waiting for someone more confident and awake to arrive and solve everything. So today the language of the teachings needs to be more positive—with more “yes’s”—and embrace ideas and practices that affirm our human compassion, wisdom, and basic good- ness. Most of the practitioners I work with, myself included, suffer from a deep lack of self-confidence in our own awakened nature. Connecting with and affirming our basic goodness will help us feel present with our own wisdom. On a collective level, Buddhism has so much to say about how human societies are arranged, primarily through its teachings on interdependence. Yet somehow we have created economies and cultural systems in which we view ourselves as separate and inde- pendent of each other. Instead, we need to see ourselves as interwo- ven with our colleagues, our communities, and our ecosystems. I think we all feel a constant tension between the social pres- sure to isolate ourselves from others and a deep inner longing to see ourselves as connected. Framing our lives around the principles of basic goodness and interdependence helps us work with this tension in a sane and mindful way. ETHAN NICHTERN is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and the author of The Road Home: A Contemporary Explora- tion of the Buddhist Path. Larry Yang: We Walk the Path Together We don’t walk this path alone. If we are not separate from all of life—which is not an easy experience to absorb on a moment- ➢ page 78 PHOTOSBYCHRISTINEALICINO