Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bodhisattvas in an Election Year - Case Eleven

Post - Election

Someone told me that they particularly enjoyed reading smart columnists
and pundits with zingy and even at times nasty statements in support of
causes and candidates that they had supported, especially if they had won.

For them, and the rest of us who at times feel similarly, I offer the following:

Elihu Genmyo Smith

Intimacy is our life, being intimacy is our functioning, is ongoing practice. Being this life is ordinary, nothing special. We can naturally respond skillfully to this arising passing moment circumstances. Intolerance is dualistic delusion in the midst of this awakened life, is self-centeredness manifesting. Intolerance is holding to self-centeredness, refusing to forget self, rejecting this moment as is. Therefore, when intolerance arises and is believed, facing intolerance, facing what hinders our life, is our practice; working with intolerance when this arises is a core focus of Buddha Dharma. We have a tendency, a habit of body-mind, of evaluating how “things” are moment-to-moment, how things are alike or different - whether alike with a remembered past or similar to how it “should be,” how I expect things to be, physically, mentally, emotionally, how I should feel – and then reacting based on this, sometimes with anger, greed, fear or confusion. Intolerance is the unwillingness to be this intimacy right here as is, not appreciating this moment, not responding to this moment as is – which results is stress, dissatisfaction and suffering. Intolerance is negating who and what we are.

One aspect of efforts to foster inter-communal relations, of interfaith efforts and practice, is a focus on how we, in the midst our particular tradition, background and in the midst of many differences, are similar and alike with others in different traditions and backgrounds. And this focus is intended to lead to empathy, fraternity/sorority and sharing among individuals and communities, lead to connectedness and interrelations. We may hope that it will reduce and even eliminate frictions, hostilities and conflicts between people that might otherwise arise with differences. We focus on similarities with the intention and hope that this will foster connectedness and compassion. And it may; compassion and wisdom may manifest as a result of sensing similarity, unity. When we sense how things are similar, then we may more easily tolerate differences and failed expectations. Nevertheless, these do not take care of intolerance when that arises, whether it is intolerance of others or our self. Therefore, facing intolerance is also a core of interfaith work.

Ceasing harming is necessary before and while we do good and do good for others – otherwise good is built on a foundation that contains and perpetuates harming. If we treat intolerance as an aberration or outlier – whether in regards to our self, our faith community and tradition, our political group or any human grouping (whether “ours” or that of “others”) – then we miss a cause that feeds greed, anger, fear and harmful behavior (or worse). We relegate intolerance to only “extremists” and extreme situations, and fail to see where and how it arises in everyday activities - not intolerance by others, but our intolerance, in attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and traditions. And we miss how this intolerance, and the pernicious effects it has, needs to be noticed and clarified in the light of ongoing practice, in order to go beyond it, go beyond the self-centeredness - so as to not be trapped by self-centeredness and react from it......

(c) 2012 Elihu Genmyo Smith

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