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Lions Roar : May 2018
and compassion are motivators that drive effective and sustainable action. But how do we get from anger to compassion? Vajrayana Buddhism teaches that the states we most wish to avoid are the key to our freedom. Instead of erasing emo- tions, we can metabolize them and trans- form them into supple responsiveness. When anger is heavily fixated on an object, it becomes isolating, contracted, and draining. But when we take respon- sibility for our own anger, we can find its upside. Anger isn’t always reprehensible. It can be a protective energy, a healthy response to that which threatens what we love. That insight itself can liberate reactive anger into its deeper nature—a wise resolve to act with courage in the interest of love. In contemplative practice, anger can inspire empathy. We discover that uncomfortable states, while they belong to us, aren’t ours alone. Others also feel anger, including the people we have other-ed. When we recognize that this is how so many others feel, we can com- mune with others. We redirect our atten- tion from the story stimulating anger to our empathy for all those impacted by climate change—even the deniers. By redirecting our focus from a polarizing narrative to a uniting one, we build a more sustainable platform for action. 4. Access New Wisdom In discussions about climate change, we primarily access one way of knowing— through the intellect. This conceptual approach is critically important—we need to know what’s happening and why—however, our response will be more powerful if we also access other ways of knowing. Two alternative ways of knowing that Buddhist practice relies on are bodily wisdom and non-conceptual wisdom. The closer we come to the body, the closer we draw to the truth of our own wildness. This connects us to the plan- etary wildness that we aspire to protect. transcends impermanence. To encourage his monastics to face their mortality, the Buddha sent them to meditate in charnel grounds where they could witness decay- ing corpses. He wasn’t trying to torture his disciples, but rather free them. While awareness of our mortality stirs our deepest fears, it also opens us to the truth that nothing is certain. There’s good reason to embrace the uncertainty of climate change. If we fear uncertainty, we’re more likely to avoid thinking about climate change. In fact, our worst enemy isn’t climate denial, but rather a subtle, subconscious rejection of climate change, based on our fear of the unknown. If we embrace the truth of uncertainty, we develop the courage to stay open and take action. 3. Work with Emotions Anger often fuels activism; however, it’s a poor long-term motivator, as it eventu- ally results in burnout. In contrast, love TONYCRADDOCK/SCIENCEPHOTOLIBRARY LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 18 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE