Sunday, May 26, 2019

Via Lion's Roar / The Path of Being Human

This week I stood at the freshly-dug gravesite of my mother-in-law, Annie, and recited the Lord’s Prayer. I was raised Catholic in my early childhood, so the verses come back to me easily at times like this. A few years ago, I might have struggled with such prayers and rituals, fearing that I was being disingenuous, telling myself, I’m a Buddhist after all! But somehow that doesn’t hold sway any more.

People often ask, “How do you become a Buddhist?” The simple answer is that you take refuge in the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. But, as you go forth, you still need to work out what it means to be a Buddhist for you.

When I began practicing and studying Buddhism more than twenty years ago, my peers and I were intent on receiving dharma transmissions (abhishekas) and accomplishing the levels of the path laid out for us. Now, that path seems small and constricted to me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve grown increasingly aware that the world is in desperate need of our help and Buddhism doesn’t directly answer many of the pressing questions of the day, like “What do we do about the climate crisis?” or “How do we respond to attacks on women’s reproductive freedom?”

In her article, “Your Liberation Is on the Line,” Rev. angel Kyodo williams makes a compelling case for the power of dharma to challenge the status quo and undo systems of oppression, namely racism and patriarchy. She’s able to do so because she holds a big view of what dharma can and must be: “So when dharma teachers try to tell me that this work is not the dharma, I say they’re confusing the true dharma with the dharma they’ve made small.”

Rev. williams goes on to clarify that she’s talking about the path of liberation, which extends beyond our limited ideas of a Buddhist path.

So what does it mean to be a Buddhist? That’s something you may still need to figure out. But for me, that question has been replaced by a new one: What does it mean to be fully human?

Showing up in your life, being fully human, and engaging with the suffering around you (and in you) can take myriad forms: protesting against building a pipeline on Indigenous peoples’ lands; taking the time to say hello to a stranger and give them a hand; and, maybe, saying the Lord’s Prayer and making the sign of the cross alongside your grieving Catholic relatives.

Whatever it looks like, the path of being fully human is, at its core, a path of genuine connection, care, and love. And to me, that’s one worth choosing.

—Tynette Deveaux, editor, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - May 26, 2019 đź’Ś

The left hand is caught and the right hand pulls it out. The left hand turns to the right and says ‘thank you.’ It doesn’t work because they are both part of the same body. Who are you thanking? You’re thanking yourself. So on that plane you realize it’s not her suffering, his suffering, or their suffering.
You go up one level, it’s our suffering. You go up another level, it’s my suffering. Then as it gets de-personalized, it’s the suffering. Out of the identity with the suffering comes the compassion. It arises in relationship to the suffering. It’s part and parcel of the whole package. There is nothing personal in this at all.

In that sense, you have become compassion instead of doing compassionate acts. Instead of being compassionate, you are compassion.

-  Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Enlightenment Here and Now

Awakening the enlightened mind may not be a question of self-improvement, which is never-ending; it may be a question of faith, which is always available right now.

—Hannah Tennant-Moore, “Buddhism’s Higher Power

Via Daily Dharma: Liberating Unconditional Happiness

Skillful and meritorious practices work on the deep, unconscious level of the mind, reorienting the psyche toward the boundless lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity that characterizes your buddhanature. And that’s what liberates us and makes us happy in everyday life, regardless of the external circumstances we may find ourselves in.

—Interview with Shinso Ito by James Shaheen and Philip Ryan, “Unconditional Service