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Lions Roar : November 2016
LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2016 44 Be a Citizen–Bodhisattva ROSHI PAT ENKYO O’HARA An essential quality of a good citizen in these dif- ficult times is to have the heart of a bodhisattva. According to the traditional definition, a bodhi- sattva is someone who chooses not to enter the state of perfect peace, nirvana, in order to help all sentient beings end their suffering. What’s in a bodhisattva’s heart that helps him or her make a difference in the lives of all beings? There’s the quality of generosity, the willingness to be of use, to offer what he or she can. That gener- ous urge, called dana, is checked by sila, attention to the ethics of a situation. Tolerance helps the bodhisattva stay calm and equanimous in difficult situations. When it is time for vigorous action, the bodhi- sattva is unstoppable. He or she is never discouraged because he or she possesses prajna, the wisdom to see the bigger picture and discern appropriate action for all beings. Finally, the heart of the bodhisattva is renewed and expanded by the daily practice of contemplation and stillness, allowing the bodhisattva to return to the work of serving all beings. ROSHI PAT ENKYO O’HARA is abbot of the Village Zendo in New York City and a founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Family, a spiritual and social action association. PHOTOBYCHELSEAVICTORIA/STOCKSYUNITED Strangers Become Kin KAREN CONNELLY In May, my brother, David, was run down by a dump truck in Phuket, Thailand. My sister and I campaigned online to find enough of his rare blood type to keep him alive, but the doctors told us that he’d likely die. To be a good citizen is to be a good sibling. In Buddhist and biological terms, our kinship is limitless. We’re related to all beings, ecologically, economically, politically. My recent efforts to help my brother brought this home to me. Many people—friends, colleagues, acquaintances, total strangers—offered us the most tangible gift of kinship: their blood. They also donated money. If David lived, we’d have to fly him home to Canada; the cost of the private Thai hospital was destroying us financially. Good citizenship means to acknowledge and embrace our kinship with those we love, with those we hate, and with the earth that sustains us. We resist this because such an embrace requires great energy. It requires action without violence, effort without the promise of fruition. For David, many people labored toward a goal that was, perhaps, unattainable. Despite the transfusions, he could have died from the severity of his injuries. But he lived. After months in a hospital bed, he took his first unsteady steps back into the world, reborn, filled with gratitude, his life saved in uncountable ways by strangers who had become kin. KAREN CONNELLY is an award-winning Canadian author. For the full story of her brother’s accident, visit gofundme.com/BringDaveyHome.