Editorial

This Should Be Easy

· Editorial, Open Access · ,

by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman

This life of mine is perfect and complete Buddha nature; the teachings state this directly. So this should be easy—just live as an enlightened being. But what is that, really? We come to practice to be completely liberated from suffering, but the old habits of solving problems, finding adjustments or applying ‘the fix’ aren’t the same as taking up the bodhisattva vows. The Buddha and his early followers wandered and practiced together, seeking the true path of awakening, and that’s where we all begin. This Buddha nature is innate, and it has to be verified personally, with one’s very own evolving experience.

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This is My Stop

· Editorial, Open Access · ,

by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman, Mountain Record Editor

Not a story I like to tell, but years ago I got into a fight on the subway. A big-shouldered, well-groomed man in his 40s was tearing down a safe sex poster which showed some playfully kissing teenagers, straight and gay. I questioned him angrily as he tore up the poster, and he stopped. That’s where I could have left it. I had stepped forward without fear or self-consciousness, and I had been effective. But now I was livid with self-righteous anger and so was he. Having created a second problem, I was missing a vital element of skillfulness—to find my ground and learn to speak up differently.

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Who’s Your Mama

· Editorial, Open Access · ,

by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman, Mountain Record Editor

I arrived at the monastery for the first time curious about Zen but prepared to stay on the sidelines. Organized religions of any kind were to me male-defined, patriarchal institutions I was better off avoiding, and yet here I was. When I turned toward the monastic in the zendo for beginning instruction there was a woman—in black robes and distinctive bald head—and she spoke with a clear, soaring enthusiasm for the dharma. A sudden recognition, and a new picture came into view—this is my seat.

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A Daring Compassion

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by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman, Mountain Record Editor

The news on environmental activism rarely makes headlines, despite some prominent demonstrations and the groundswell of change they can lead to. Occasionally there are clashes or even violence against those who continue working, courageously, to protect and defend. Communities are torn apart, resources are depleted, our human greed and destruction takes its toll. I feel anger, a familiar despair. When facing these feelings of discouragement, or simply not knowing what to do, how is it that being on the path and having a spiritual practice can sustain us?

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Photo by Dean Morley

Bright, Dancing Aliveness

· Editorial, Open Access · ,

by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman, Mountain Record Editor

Fire draws our attention with its light. The aliveness dancing in a candle flame is made from the cotton in its wick, the moisture in the candle wax, oxygen feeding its burning. I name the different parts and feel their separateness, grasping at difference. As I return to the experience of the flickering flame, I return to warmth, the light, the aliveness.

While we understand that all the elements combine to create the life of our magnificent planet, we tend to focus on the separation— between candle, wick, wax—as between what we want and what we have, between the human and the natural world. Separating our self-consciousness and our disregard for other perspectives—of people, animals, insects and even protozoa—ultimately justifies destructive acts against living beings. Feeling the distress of the earth and its creatures as deeply personal, this awareness can open up the heart to respond with genuine caring actions which are of benefit to all.

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