using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : July 2017
Live in joy, live in compassion, and live in love, no matter where you are, instructs the Buddha. To remember that this is possible for you is an essential step on the path to joy and freedom. Why is this your message now? Over my years of teaching, I’ve seen many people get caught up in the idea of developmental practice, with awakening as the goal. After long years of different trainings, they forget that the possibility of freedom is here in any moment. They forget that where they’re going is right where they are. So I and my colleagues shifted our emphasis away from the ascetic, effortful style we learned in traditional monasteries and zendos. Seeing the pervasive suffering of striving, attach- ment, and self-judgment in the West, we decided to emphasize loving-kindness, compassion, and joy—especially love and joy within oneself and deep compassion for our common humanity. This has helped people lighten their load. It’s brought well-being into their bodies and minds, and a sense of inner freedom they can experience and offer to others. This requires a kind of tenderness toward ourselves and all life, seeing the pos- sibilities in everyone we meet. When we meet life with a fearless and joyful heart, it transforms our relationship with everything. Have Buddhists in the West perhaps misinterpreted the teach- ings in ways that reinforce their tendencies toward depression, stress, or self-criticism? We see that commonly. Ambition, self-criticism, shame, self- judgment, and so forth are rife in our culture. For many people, that shows up in their spiritual practice, which becomes either a grim duty or a way to try to improve themselves. They become uptight or rigid in their practice. The point of these practices is not to perfect ourselves. We’ve all been going to the gym, changing our diet, going to therapy, doing different kinds of meditation, and so forth. These help us some, but we’re still sort of the same weird person as when we started, with the same personality. The aim of dharma practice is to experience a sense of free- dom and joy where we are. Now, this doesn’t mean there are no hard times in practice or in life. There are inevitably hard times in which we face our deepest fears and confusions, our pain and demons. We have to tend and heal the traumas and sorrows that human life brings us with compassion. But this is not a grim duty. It’s a step-by-step journey of freedom and liberation. There is a mudita [sympathetic joy] practice in which you look at another person and you try to picture their happiest moment as a child, laughing and running and playing. You see that there’s an inviolable spirit in them that cannot be touched by the traumas and the sorrows of life. When you see that, your own joyful spirit connects with that dimension in them. It’s a beautiful thing! When you see someone with the eyes of joy, with so much tenderness and compassion as well, you want them to flower; you want the best to come out of them. As Nelson Mandela said, even with difficult people, it never hurts to think the best of them. They often act better because of it. To be able to see the original innocence and goodness born in everyone, and to foster that as you move through the world, is a kind of blessing. But you have to recognize it and be willing to dance with it in yourself, to celebrate and allow it to blossom in your own life. Many of us find it hard to allow ourselves to be happy. Deep down, we may feel we don’t deserve happiness, or that being joyful is selfish and a violation of our obligation to put others first. We may feel it’s not right to be happy when there is so much suffering in the world. The Puritan ethic and sense of original sin underlying much of our cultural history can feed into this. What’s beautiful to discover in meditation practice is that this painful cultural conditioning is not true. There’s a fundamental goodness—you could call it our true nature or buddhanature—that’s our inviolable birthright. The circle of compassion is not complete if one person is left out. You know who that person is? Yourself. As the Buddha said, you can search the entire tenfold universe and not find a single being more worthy of love than the one seated in your own home—you. LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 42