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Lions Roar : March 2016
to-moment basis—then whatever we do, including our spiritual path, includes, involves, and is influenced by others. In a world that is increasingly frag- mented, often because of religious differ- ences, what’s needed is not spiritual truth but common sense—a sense of what is really common. What is common—that is, universal—is that all of us as human beings are trying the best we can to do more than simply survive this immersion into tenderness, vulnerability, and com- plexity that is life. When global conditions increasingly do not make sense to us, we can remem- ber that aphorism of humility: “We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.” The greater the number of “we-ares” that we see, the more a com- passionate response to an often unfath- omable life is possible. If we only understand life through the lens of our particular life, we will never feel its depth and breadth. Even as spiritual practitioners, we will be delusional or skewed in our pursuit of awakening. It is only by practicing in a multiplic- ity of communities, including ones that might seem in existential opposition to us, that we have the opportunity to sense what connects us as a universal family— the common heart and mind resident in every spiritual tradition and in every human being. When we do, we might start to feed each other with care and to awaken together, instead of succumbing to greed, hatred, and delusion. LARRY YANG is a core teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland and is on the Teachers’ Council of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Josh Korda: The Path to Peace Is Free of Charge When we begin our spiritual journey, we may be motivated by all those wonder- ful images of Gautama Buddha: a quiet figure, sitting serenely, coolly immune to the challenges in life. It’s a nice image, but it doesn’t accurately present the path, at least in my experience. While we may be tempted to believe that meditation will help us get rid of sadness, grief, loneliness, anger, and frustration, these so-called “negative” emotions aren’t mistakes or errors of which we can dispense. They are impor- tant messages sent from the unconscious mind, which seeks security and connec- tion over ambition and acquisition. It’s worth noting that the contemporary understanding of emotions contradicts some of the early Buddhist views, which categorize emotion according to strict dualistic categories—kindness and com- passion are skillful, anger and grief are unskillful, etc. While Buddhism will play many important roles as it continues to develop in the West, I believe its most important message is one of internal integration. The tools of the dharma, combined with today’s complementary therapeutic insights, allow us to integrate the emo- tional mind into our conscious lifestyles and agendas. In a consumer society based on achievement and acquisition, this is little short of revolutionary. In The Great Teaching of the Lion’s Roar (Maha-sihanada Sutta), the Buddha reassures practitioners about the rewards of the inner journey that practice entails. Remembering the rewards of spiritual practice is essential: our days will entail many difficult experiences, and sooner or later doubt will arise that there is any possible destination except despair. How easy it is, then, to abandon practice for the comfortable rewards of consumerism or addictive behaviors. The Buddha said, “I provide a path to transcendent peace, showing how one achieves it, with direct knowledge, how they enter and abide in its deliverance.” If anything in life is worth celebrating, it is this blameless path that provides peace free of charge, unconditionally, to the benefit of all beings. ♦ JOSH KORDA is the presiding teacher at Dharma Punx NYC + Brooklyn. Hear the Lions Roar continued from page 45 LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2016 78