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Lions Roar : September 2018
Meeting Ourselves as We Are MELISSA MYOZEN BLACKER, ROSHI on how to find space and relief when painful emotions are present. IT’S HARD TO BE a human being. Even if you live a life of privilege and luxury, you are still subject to aging, ill- ness, and death. If you are born into poverty, or if you don’t conform to white Western standards of skin color, gender identity, religion, or sexuality, then life is even more challenging. Not to mention those of us with chronic mental or phys- ical health problems, or survivors of all the forms of violence and conflict that fill this burning world. It can all feel pretty overwhelming. Our hearts yearn for happiness, but life forces us to create survival strategies to protect ourselves from all the suffering. One common defence is to wall off our hearts from further pain. We become numb and withdrawn. Or we become sad and depressed, or anxious and fearful, or angry and hostile. When we first learn about Buddhist practice, we may view it as just another strat- egy—a way to escape our distress. But the real promise of Buddhist practice is not to protect us from further harm. What the Buddha invites us to discover is that we can learn to face everything that arises as an example of the awakened heart. Everything we encounter is buddha (awakened) nature, including what we don’t want and what causes us to suffer. Once we can take the risk to meet our lives directly, we can also learn to make a bigger mental and emotional space around whatever is causing us pain. PHOTOBYJOHNHANSELL/MILLENNIUMIMAGES.UK How to Face Life’s Challenges The three Buddhist teachers featured at this year’s Lion’s Roar retreat teach us new ways to work with whatever challenges life presents so we can benefit ourselves and others. This year’s Lion’s Roar retreat on Facing Life’s Challenges will be held at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York, October 19–21, 2018. For more information, go to lionsroar.com/events. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 37