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Lions Roar : March 2019
we want to just fight or fight the good fight. The Buddha said that hatred is never overcome by hatred. If hatred is what’s motivating and propelling me, I’m not able to fight the good fight. Then I have to step back and deal with what is rising up in me. When that’s taken care of, then I’m qualified to fight the good fight. Some people want to do a good thing, but they haven’t taken the route of discipline to subdue their own demons. So their action carries the energy of where they are. It’s incumbent upon us to find out where we are. Count up the cost before you go into battle. If you can’t handle it, don’t go. But if you can, then go. Don’t necessarily expect that you’re going to see the fruit of that. You may never see it in your lifetime. Does that make a difference to what you do? Some of us are stepping forward and initiating things that we will never see the fruit of. But we know that we planted the right seed and gave it the right energy, and in its due season it is going to bear fruit. That’s how we have to go into every struggle, particularly in a time like this when there is no stability to be found anywhere. The only stability is what I take with me. We turn our practice back to ourselves continually, and we get an idea of what we can do that will be fervent and yet effective. Rev. angel Kyodo williams: I think one of the unique things that black folks bring to the dharma is that we can’t afford not to take sides. It’s privilege that allows people to say, “We’re going to have a dharma that’s about not taking sides.” I think colored folks and black folks really bring forth the truth that we can’t afford not to be the dharma that is expressed through these bodies. If dharma is going to be authentic through our bodies, we can’t sit in the location of not taking sides. Pamela Ayo Yetunde (Community dharma leader in the Insight Meditation tradition; United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities; author of Object Relations, Buddhism, and Relationality in Womanist Practical Theology): The Christian liberation theologian James Cone said God is black and Jesus is black. Thich Nhat Hanh is black in this respect. In this respect, during the Vietnam War all Vietnamese were black. Thich Nhat Hanh has taken sides many times. He takes the side of compassion. He takes the side of wisdom. He takes the side of nonaggression. He chose to come from Vietnam to the United States to transform our ways of aggression to save his people. He was taking a side to be here to make that change. That’s what we have to do. Dawa Tarchin Phillips (American lama in the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Vajrayana Buddhism): That is a great ques- tion, which deserves a longer answer. If you’re just looking to confirm what you’re already thinking about people and the world, the Buddha’s teachings might not be the right place for you. It’s the job of the Buddha’s teachings to challenge assump- tions and show you that you have a limited perspective if you think you’re the only one in the right. In breaking down preju- dices it leads people to discover that we are all more alike than different, which is the birthplace of true humanity. When you are just taking a side, that can be used and abused by propaganda and mixed intentions. I think that “taking a stand” is an important and valuable alternative to “taking a side,” because taking a stand makes it clear that you want to see a specific positive change, like more truth, transparency, accountability, justice, equity, love, compassion, and discern- ment. People can rub themselves against your stand and really learn from your stand, and it isn’t so easily misused. Question: Some of you have come to Buddhism from other reli- gions. What is it about Buddhism that drew you to it? Myokei Caine-Barrett: I was raised as a Methodist and I had to go to church every Sunday. Every time I had a question, they couldn’t answer it. I was always told you just have to believe and when you believe you’ll figure it out. When I found Buddhism, I knew I had come home. Buddhism said it’s up to you, you are responsible, you take LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2019 42