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Lions Roar : September 2017
BEGINNER’S MIND I’ve heard that Buddhists don’t proselytize, but I’ve had some conversations with Buddhists who are trying to convince me their view is right. Do Buddhists try to convert people like other religions do? Buddhists vow to be kind and do no harm. Forcefully trying to persuade someone to take up a spiritual path or identity is, on the face of it, unkind. Proselytizing is often motivated not by a desire to relieve someone’s suffering, but to get them to join the club you identify with—to make you feel more secure in your choice. That’s how proselytizing gets its bad name. That said, when the practice of meditation puts you in touch with a greater sense of well-being and a lessening of suffering, you may be motivated to share that with others. That’s why many Buddhists also take a vow to put oth- ers before themselves and do whatever is necessary to alleviate their suffering, including introducing them to Buddhist teachings and practices. That’s called giving the gift of dharma. One tries to do it skillfully, always keeping the needs of others paramount and trusting in their intelligence, but travelers on the Buddhist path are not perfect, so a clumsy act of trying to share the dharma could come off as proselytizing. DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS THE SIX REALMS are different forms of existence in which we can take rebirth. They can also be thought of as psychological states we experience in our current life in the human realm. Higher Realms God Realm: A blissful, ethereal state in which one is supremely contented but oblivious to the suffering of others. Jealous God Realm: Fueled by ego and aggression, jealous or warring gods (asuras) are always striving to rise in power and position. Human Realm: Passionate and perceptive, human beings experience many states of mind and have the most opportunity to free themselves from the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara). Lower Realms Animal Realm: A life of ignorant complacency and dullness, in which one doesn’t look beyond avoiding pain and seeking comfort. Hungry Ghost Realm: Incalculably frustrated by desires they cannot fulfill, hungry ghosts (pretas) are depicted with big bellies and tiny mouths. Hell Realm: A claustrophobic place of extreme hot or cold in which you can’t escape the torment of your own intense anger and hate. ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIERRAYFENWICK LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 30