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Lions Roar : September 2018
ness. Be curious about what you are noticing. For example, if there is a particularly painful sensation, examine it with kindness and interest. What are the physical qualities of the discomfort? Notice if, by bringing this soft and curious atten- tion to the sensation, it becomes more or less intense. You can do the same thing with painful or disturbing thoughts, sense perceptions, or emotions. Sometimes meeting suffering for even a moment is too much—the experience is overwhelming. If that happens, be kind to yourself, and simply rest your awareness in the breath and body for a while. You can try returning to the difficulty later. After a few moments of being with the difficult experience, rest your attention in your breath. Notice what is present now. It may be that the pain is still with you and your attention keeps being drawn back toward it. Continue to move back to the breath whenever this happens. You may also notice that there is more going on than just the difficulty. You can feel the breath and other sensations and sense perceptions. Encourage yourself to create a bigger space around your problem. Last, be aware of any clarity that may be arising around the situation that has caused the difficulty. Maybe you need to take some medicine for a headache, or contact a friend or a teacher to discuss your insights about a troublesome situation, or take a walk, or go to sleep. Treat these actions as experiments— notice if the suffering changes through your actions. Ultimately, the invitation is to let whatever is arising be present without meddling with it. Just by turning loving attention to how life is appearing in this moment, insight can arise and we can find a way for- ward through our difficulties. MELISSA MYOZEN BLACKER, ROSHI is a Soto Zen priest, abbot of Boundless Way Zen, and co-editor of The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen’s Most Important Koan. Being Present with Suffering By accepting our emotions and not reacting, says LAMA JUSTIN VON BUJDOSS, we can learn to effectively serve others. My work in caregiving, both in hospice and at Rikers Island’s jails, has brought me face-to-face with pain, sorrow, loss, ter- ror, fear, frustration, and anxiety. Since shutting down is not an option—I have found that I cannot serve without feel- ing—I am well-steeped in the pain and suffering that arise when you maintain a connection to others while journeying together toward a greater sense of peace and insight in the midst of great difficulties. This journey requires that I remain mindful of my own brokenness, yet flexible enough to remember that within this brokenness is perfection. As a teacher in the Mahamudra tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, whether at Rikers or when I am with someone who is dying, I remember that my mind is the same as the mind of Maitripa, Saraha, Milarepa, and the other great saints of the Mahamudra lineage. It is the same as the mind of every incarcerated person, every officer, every person at the end of life, and every caregiver. What is the nature of this mind? The Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, in his Mahamudra Aspiration Prayer, tells us: The ground of purification is the mind’s nature, a union of lucidity-emptiness. What purifies is the great vajra yoga of Mahamudra. What is purified is the stains of adventitious delusion. May the result of purification, the stainless dharmakaya, be revealed. According to the Mahamudra tradition, the entire uni- verse is a vast and ever-unfolding display of appearance that never ends and is constantly changing. It is reflected in the way we interact with the richness of all that arises. Whether it is the visual field of color and form, the tactile nature of physicality, or the emotional ways in which we interact with others, our life is a field of amazing, ever- changing appearance. Typically, we spend most of our time less oriented to the flowing constancy of change and the artfulness of this tapestry. Thus we forget that this play of phenomena is also a constant display of perfection—a series of moments preg- nant with enlightened nature that arise as they do. Instead, in the act of forgetting the basic purity of our mind and the joy associated with recognizing its true nature, we create threads of narrative and explanation. We apply patterned ways of seeing and referencing what is naturally arising. This leads us further out of relationship with the true nature of mind and the way in which it arises. Sometimes we land on narratives of pain and sadness, sto- ries rooted in hard bone and soft flesh that feel real and per- manent. At other times, the conflicting emotions caused by the three poisons (kleshas) of attachment, aversion, and ignorance PHOTOBYA.JESSEJIRYUDAVIS LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 39