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Lions Roar : March 2019
watered-down dharma was and is wide- spread across Buddhist Asia. There are whole sects that live for money-making funerals, and millions who go to temples to get fortunes read or to make offer- ings for business success, better luck in marriage, or to offset their continuing misdeeds. Yet these societies are also the treasure houses of profound dharma and great sanghas. Popular Buddhism and devotion to deep practice inter-are. They always exist in a dance together. I say let the dharma spread and become so common it becomes an invisible under- standing, enhancing humanity in every field. Let it foster virtue, inner well-being, respect for basic human dignity, care for all life, and the awakening of freedom. Let these seeds of goodness flower in a thousand forms. It doesn’t even have to be called Buddhism. Let’s just call it love. in the West. There will be different Bud- dhisms. Every other Buddhist culture has many sects and traditions living side by side. These express the ten thousand skillful means of awakening: through devotion and meditation, direct point- ings and transmission, myth and story, community and ritual, wise heart and wise society. There are conservative, tra- ditional sects who preserve the teachings, and in each generation, there are adaptive sects who modernize and renew them. Even though they can glare at each other across the divide, these perspectives com- plement each other. We need them both. Buddhist traditions in the West are already being changed. While we don’t know what the next decades will bring, there are hints. Buddhism in the West is already not as patriarchal as in the past, embodying more female leaders and more feminine wisdom. It is less hier- archical and more democratic. While building monastic traditions, it is more lay-oriented. There is more emphasis on meditation and less on the practices of devotion and offering. There is a growing use of self-compassion to counterbalance spiritual ambition and misguided effort. While true to its roots, Buddhism is also incorporating the complementary skills of modern psychology, trauma work, and neuroscience. Diversity and inclusion is a visible direction for Bud- dhist communities everywhere, as is more active engagement in the allevia- tion of suffering in our society. There is increasing use of online learning and the adoption of Buddhist practices in many forms. There are many new secular adap- tations of mindfulness, loving-kindness, and tonglen meditation benefiting people in fields from education, health care, and business to the arts and athletics. And true to capitalism, the dharma is being packaged and sold. Some people are worried about the watering down of the dharma, the secular selling without a deeper foundation. History laughs. Let it spread in ten thousand forms. The dharma can take care of itself! It is magnifi- cent, the timeless truth, the reality of life. And honestly, though we Americans are expert at misusing things, there is a centuries-long tradition of misusing the teachings prior to us. Magnificently Our presence here means the presence of all our ancestors. They are still alive in us. Every time we smile, all the generations of our ancestors, our children, and the gen- erations to come—all of whom are within us—smile too. We practice not just for our- selves, but for everyone, and the stream of life continues. — THICH NHAT HANH Today, we are witnessing much greater diversity among people coming to Bud- dhist centers throughout the country. As people of color in particular enter into the sanctuary of convert Buddhist com- munities, many are seeking refuge from the tumultuous political landscape and uptick of racial hatred that has gripped the psyche of our nation. This has cata- lyzed people to explore meditation prac- tices as a way to alleviate both individual and collective trauma. In this light, we need to examine and clarify what is being taught in Buddhist communities today. Then we will have an understanding that allows for changing and including what needs to change to address societal suffering. This will serve to provide a clear impact on the issues Buddhism addresses and how it is taught over the next forty years. Today, dharma talks by white Buddhist teachers rarely if ever address the social, political, and cultural ills that are plaguing communities of color, and indeed any com- munity that is seeking ways to heal and wit- ness its own legacy of woundedness. In fact, the failure to address these wounds often triggers more emotional trauma, because that which is absent, unspoken, and unseen makes it more glaring. What if Buddhist teachings addressed these personal and collective wounds? JACK KORNFIELD is a psychologist, bestselling author, and one of America’s leading Buddhist teachers. He is a founder of the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Heal the Wounds and Trauma by Noliwe Alexander, Devin Berry, Rosetta Saunders, and DaRa Williams LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2019 72