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Lions Roar : January 2018
a shift in consciousness will manifest as respect for all human beings equally, and as love and care for the earth, the rivers and oceans and forests, and all life. What can we, as individual practi- tioners, do to help steer our society in a new, more holistic and sustainable direction? Do we take political action, march in the streets, attend conferences, network, and write blogs and tweets? For some, it means all of those avenues; for others it means selective action, perhaps more conscious and directed love for the natural world or more engagement in social justice efforts; and of course more meditation time, and the dedication of the merit of our meditation efforts to the collective good. I have worked with many spiritual organizations over the years that refrain from making any political statements. I understand their caution, as their follow- ers may span the political spectrum and they are sensitive to a diverse range of beliefs. However, at this point in time, all of us need to take a stand, not for politi- cal candidates but for the issues, to look deeply and determine what will advance the well-being of the whole. Buddhists are well suited to help lead this conversation because of their understanding of causes and conditions and interdependence. The work of spiritual communities is to heal from a place of love, not to exac- erbate polarities. The foundation of com- passion is to see the “other” as part of the self, and the offspring of compassion is wisdom. By awakening these qualities, we will be better able to address the underly- ing matrix of conditions that gives rise to hatred, racism, gender bias, economic inequity, ecological destruction, and violence. Too many people now are distracted from tackling the deeper causes, for which there are no easy or obvious solu- tions. To activate our compassion and bring the fruits of our meditation into the public square, we as a conscious community have no choice but to stand up, speak out, and serve. ♦ appreciated our effort to look beyond the economic aspects of curtailing car- bon emissions to the moral and spiritual imperatives to act. The main lesson we learned was that we cannot depend on political leaders, even those we admire, to lead us out of the quagmire the human community has created for itself and the planet. It is up to every one of us to accept the responsi- bility of serving the greater good in some capacity, especially when we know that our actions today will have great impact on future generations. We cannot expect to see the world move forward without our voices and our actions. Many of us cultivate a meditation practice in order to address our own needs and motives—the desire to end suffering, to understand the purpose of life, etc. But we can no longer sit for personal needs alone. We must practice for our collective needs. The “I” has transformed into the “we”—the whole community of sentient beings. This is the starting point for turning our focus from the symptoms of the problem to the deeper systemic causes. For many years I have seen how faith groups continue to address the symptoms of our society’s deep imbal- ance by seeking to apply Band-Aids on hemorrhaging wounds. While it is vitally important to give aid to victims of natu- ral disasters and to fight for health care reform, etc., these actions alone will not solve the immense challenges facing our country, and humanity. We need a total rethinking of our polit- ical, economic, social, and food systems so they are more in line with the principles of dharma. Without this systemic shift, the underlying conditions that manifest as the symptoms of poverty, violence, ecological breakdown, and the rise of self- interested leaders will not change. Only an awakening of spiritual con- sciousness will move us from a civiliza- tion based on domination, greed, and separateness to one based on collabora- tion, sharing, and connectedness. Such Visit JewelHeart.Org For Details and Digital Dharma SUMMER SUMMER RETREAT: GREE TARA July9-15 GLE MULLI : I TRO TO VAJRAYA A Midwest Jewel Heart Tour Cleveland, Bloomfield Hills Ann Arbor, Chicago SPRI G MA TRA RETREAT * GA DE LHAGYEMA * VAJRAYOGI I Jewel Heart Ann Arbor February 23 - March 4 WI TER SU DAYS TALKS: GELEK RIMPOCHE and GUESTS Free, Weekly - 11am ET LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2018 16 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE