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Full Engagement (November 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | November 2014

EXCERPT

Full Engagement


In the embrace of Buddhist deities, we see not only their delight, but also their mutual respect and total presence. SAKYONG MIPHAM on how we too can awaken to love.

When people ask me how to conduct themselves in a relationship, I tell them to make the intention to develop good, positive qualities. Without that intention, negative qualities will gain momentum. Being able to share genuine presence with someone you love depends on personal discipline, respect, and dignity.

We tend to think of discipline as being regimented, but in an intimate relationship it has more to do with our motivation to rise above aggression and pride in relating to our partner. In this context, discipline means being present in body, speech, and mind. Being present in a relationship keeps the relationship fresh and brings joy.

Personal discipline begins at home. We often feel that when we’re home, we finally have an opportunity not to be present. If we consider the home a place not to be present, we are setting ourselves up for failure. A relationship not based on full engagement will have obstacles.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s most recent book is The Shambhala Principle: Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure.




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Bodhi Trees (November 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | November 2014

REVIEW (EXCERPT)

Bodhi Trees

In nature we see Buddhist truths unfold, while in Buddhism we find ways to heal the natural world. JESSICA MOREY on Minding the Earth, Mending the World.

Minding the Earth, Mending the World
Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis

By Susan Murphy
Counterpoint 2014; 320 pp., $16.95 (paper)

How can we wrap our minds around something so vast as the destruction of the planet, and—instead of going mad or numb—grow interested? And how do we slow down enough to quickly take right action?

These are the opening questions of Susan Murphy’s new book, Minding the Earth, Mending the World: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis. Murphy does not shy away from the stark realities of the destruction we are wreaking in every ecosystem on Earth. And though her book is dense with facts, it reads like poetry or a series of koans. The reader can feel the author’s presence, the inspiration of her roosters and dog, and the rhythmic shadow of trees and winter grass outside her window. It’s a book that must be absorbed slowly.



Read the rest of this review inside the November 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

The Three I's of Twenty-First-Century Dharma (November 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | November 2014

EXCERPT

The Three I's of Twenty-First-Century Dharma

DZOGCHEN PONLOP RINPOCHE on how the Buddhist take on individuality and independence leads us to a deeper understanding of interdependence.

If we want to know how to bring dharma practice into our twenty-first-century life, there are basically two things we can do, one with our brain and the other with our heart. They are the two key practices of Buddhists.

What we can do with our brain is to understand the nature of interdependence. Interdependence isn’t just another concept from the Buddhist playbook. A genuine glimpse of interdependence can help us overcome the divide we feel within ourselves and with the rest of the world. What we can do with our heart is to develop true kindness and compassion. We should never underestimate the power of the heart to empower and wake us up, once we’ve genuinely connected with it.

Understanding interdependence begins with examining the concepts of individuality and independence as we normally view them in Western cultures. Then we look at them from a dharmic perspective, which includes an altruistic motivation. When our intention is compassion, individuality and independence become a basis for developing an understanding of interdependence.

The process of examining these three I’s—individuality, independence, and interdependence—becomes a way of familiarizing ourselves with our minds. These concepts are so essential to our identity and way of being that looking at them closely can be a form of meditation that leads us to insight into selflessness, the true nature of reality.



Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a master in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Vajrayana Buddhism. A strong advocate of American Buddhism, he is the founder of Nalandabodhi, an international sangha headquartered in Seattle. Ponlop Rinpoche’s most recent book is
Rebel Buddha: A Guide to a Revolution of the Mind.

 



Read the rest of this article inside the November 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

Silence is Part of the Song: Meredith Monk Q&A (November 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | November 2014

Q&A / EXCERPT

Silence is Part of the Song: Meredith Monk

Meredith Monk is one of America’s preeminent avant-garde artists. A choreographer, film director, and opera composer, she’s best known as a pioneer in extended vocal technique, which effectively means that gorgeously strange music pours out of her. This year Monk is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of her first major performance. — Andrea Miller

You once described making art as a “bodhisattva activity.” What did you mean by that?

Art has the potential to soothe the heart, mind, and body. Artists can be very attuned to the suffering of the world. I’ve come to see that there isn’t a separation between art and Buddhist practice because I try to make art that’s of benefit, that’s affirming of life. Just the process of making art is a political statement. Art is an antidote or counterbalance to the overwhelming and distracting bombardment of our sensibilities.

Would you say that creating art is a kind of meditation?

Absolutely.

Does that mean that one could forgo seated meditation and just focus on artistic endeavors?

One could, but I feel like the sitting practice is important. For me, meditation gets me in touch with a wider perspective and integrates my artwork and my life. My life seems like one fabric with no separation between practice, making art, and washing the dishes.



Read this complete article inside the November 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

Five Things to Give Away (November 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | November 2014

EXCERPT

Five Things to Give Away

CHRISTIAN MCEWEN's Slow Cleaning isn’t just long-drawn-out old-fashioned housekeeping. It’s a chance to bring attention to what we have and decide what to let go.

“Housework won’t kill you,” said Phyllis Diller, “but then again, why take the chance?” The truth is, I’ve never been much good at keeping house. I live alone in a small rental apartment—a warren of six irregularly-shaped rooms tucked under a pointy roof—and apart from two entirely affectionate and indulgent cats, there is no one to keep tabs on the level of cleanliness.

Each of my rooms is more or less identical: there’s a desk and a chair and a carpet, piles of papers, and many, many (far too many) books. I always wash the dishes and do the laundry. Now and then I change the sheets on my enormous double bed. But until recently, sweeping and dusting and vacuuming came a very distant second to the more pressing obligations of a freelance writer’s life. I would rather be reading or writing or talking on the phone, I told myself. I would rather be taking notes or transcribing an interview. Until, that is, I came up with the notion of Slow Cleaning.

Who knows where the idea came from? One day it simply announced itself, and I obeyed. Now early each morning I tackle a new corner of the apartment and make order there: cleaning and swabbing the dusty shelves, and examining each book and magazine, each piece of silverware, each old cracked plate. Every day I keep cleaning until I find five things that I can part with. Some of these go straight into the garbage. Some make their way to the recycling center or the local thrift store. Yet others—pretty and serviceable, but of no immediate use—I pass along to friends. So many presents! So many new discoveries! So much trash!



Read the rest of this article inside the November 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

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