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Lions Roar : July 2018
BEGINNER’S MIND The Buddha’s first noble truth says that life is suffering. What’s this obsession with suffering? If I don’t feel like I’m suffering am I still a Buddhist? The usual translation you mention—“Life is suffering”—does a disservice to the subtlety of the first noble truth. A fairer translation is “Life is marked by suffer- ing,” which means that suffering isn’t all we experience but it’s always present. Yes, we have happiness and joy, but we never escape the suffering of not getting what we want, the suffering of losing it when we do get it, and the underlying anxiety of not having a solid self. The word usually translated as suffering, dukkha, actu- ally means a wheel that is not round and gives a bumpy ride. The point is that life doesn’t work very well. As the late Thinley Norbu Rinpoche once said, “Samsara? That’s nothing but an endless series of mistakes.” The reason people get discour- aged by Buddhism’s emphasis on suffering is that they think they’re stuck with it. But the first noble truth points to the next three truths, which tell us that life will work much better if we let go of the suffering caused by maintaining the fiction of a solid self. The truth of suffering is not a life sentence but the first step on the path to enlightenment. It is a cause of hope, not of despair. DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIER IN HIS “INSTRUCTIONS TO THE COOK,” Dogen, the Japanese founder of the Soto Zen school, wrote that someone working to benefit others should maintain three minds: magnanimous mind (daishin), parental mind (roshin), and joyful mind (kishin). Magnanimous mind (or “big mind”) means, accord- ing to Dogen, “being unprejudiced and refusing to take sides.” In other words, magnanimous mind is not swayed by biases or preferences. Cooks with magnani- mous mind work with the ingredients they have, not the ones they wish they had. What’s there is always enough. Parental mind (literally “old mind”) takes great care with whatever, and whomever, one encounters, not distinguishing between self and other. Unforgettably, Dogen instructs cooks to handle ingredients “as if they were their own eyes.” Joyful mind is the mind of gratitude for what is. The cook sees the opportunity to feed and serve others not simply as a job but as an opportunity. With that view the cook finds a joy that is not conditional—it arises from the vow to benefit others and doesn’t depend on things going right or fade when things go wrong. These three minds can be seen as reflections of one another: for example, parental mind is a natural extension of both magnanimous mind and joyful mind; joyful mind is very much the mind of a parent. Together, these three minds describe the internal world of the bodhisattva. RAYFENWICK LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 30