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Lions Roar : September 2018
make our experiences all the more difficult, all-consuming, and overwhelming. This is all too common when experiencing painful emotions like fear, loss, anxiety, and lack of safety. This is part of the timeless story of what it means to be human. Our suffering is a thread that weaves us all together. Elsewhere in the Mahamudra Aspiration Prayer, Rangjung Dorje captures this point: We mistake self-appearance, which has never existed, to be an object. Under ignorance’s power, we mistake self-awareness to be a self. Under the power of dualistic fixation, we wander in the expanse of samsara. May we get to the bottom of ignorance and delusion. Real-time response to crises borne of violence has been a powerful teacher for me, whether it be in an ER or a jail facil- ity where the atmosphere is charged with adrenaline and, on occasion, the residue of pepper spray. In moments like these, the arising of challenging emotions and the constriction of mind that occurs when I am stuck in my reactivity becomes a valuable teacher. Getting stuck is a way to experience wis- dom, to make a friend, and to rest in awakening. Awareness practices like zazen, vipassana, or lhaktong in the Mahamudra tradition expose all experiences for what they are—arising appearance, the very subject of our prac- tice. The Third Karmapa’s words resonate an aspiration that highlights the potential of these practices: May clinging to experiences as good be naturally liberated. May the delusion of thoughts being bad be purified in the expanse. May ordinary mind, with nothing to remove or add, to lose or gain, Unelaborate, the truth of dharmata, be realized. What does it mean to stop chasing, to stop and to look at our relationship to life’s challenges? Does the radical acceptance of awareness practices liberate our clinging and aversion to whatever arises? Can the cultivation of awareness liberate fear, illness, addiction, injustice, and violence? It can. We can stop and rest together and learn to appreciate the richness of this very moment. LAMA JUSTIN VON BUJDOSS is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher and staff chaplain for the NYC Department of Correction at Rikers Island. PHOTOBYA.JESSEJIRYUDAVIS It’s All Workable MUSHIM PATRICIA IKEDA on finding your way, step-by-step. AFTER MY HUSBAND had suffered through a deep depres- sion for over a year, he announced that he wanted a divorce and moved out. This was in 2008, when the U.S. economy was in recession, so I was immediately in crisis on every level, including financially. I was operating at a base survival level. I went into treatment for situational depression, and my therapist, a tough older woman whose office was decorated with drawings of cowboy boots, placed me in a crisis support group that she led along with another equally fierce woman. The two made it clear: everyone in our group was in cri- sis (not just “facing challenges”), and so the rules were that we weren’t allowed to talk about the past, say that we were traumatized victims in “freeze” mode, rationalize our own mistakes, or give advice to anyone else. The format for what you did in the group was strict: show up, state your crisis, state what actions you are taking or going to take to address it, lis- ten to others, and go home. In that room, you weren’t allowed to remain silent. The atmosphere was tense and somber, and the dropout rate was high. At one meeting, a young man showed up, concealing himself under a bulky jacket and baseball cap. He clutched a large duffel bag on his lap throughout the meeting. What had happened to him had been in the newspapers, he said, so he felt okay about sharing his story, which was that his wife and mother-in-law had murdered his own mother, in front of his three-year-old daughter. He was now single-parenting the tod- dler and working full time. I was still terrified and depressed, but I remember thinking to myself, “Well then, I guess my situation is workable.” I learned about myself from sweating through these awful meetings. One thing I now know is that if my heart breaks and challenge escalates to crisis, I need to do two things. And you can do them too. First, I need to not self-isolate, no matter how ashamed, confused, and vulnerable I feel. In short, call on your com- munities when you need them. Humble down and call a crisis line. Reach out to friends who are good in emergencies. Call on anyone who might be able to help you, and accept that help if it is wise. If you’re Buddhist, call on the sangha. If it works for you, get down on your knees and pray. When my mother was dying of cancer, I found that helped me. As a Buddhist, I wasn’t praying to a Big Guy in the Sky and I wasn’t demanding anything. I was simply opening to the unknown. Born out of desperation, this practice of spiritual surrender has brought me much closer to devout Christian friends, and to what is sometimes called the Divine Indwelling, which is the central principle of Centering Prayer. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 40