Compassion Demands Engagement

The central guiding principle of Buddhism is compassion and concern for the world in which we live. It’s the idea of interdependence—that our actions dictate the experience of others. I don’t think everybody needs to run out and join an aid organization and everyone should feel bad that they’re not doing more for people in need. But I would like to see Buddhists have a braver relationship to engaging with the world—and also, potentially, a smarter one. We’re trained to develop our intellect and develop our wisdom, and it’s not worth very much unless you put it into practice.

– Ashoka Mukpo, “I Survived Ebola. But the Fight Doesn’t End There.”

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Las ideas se confrontan pero los espíritus convergen

¿Qué símbolo define al humano?

El ombligo.

Claro y contundente.

Etimológicamente, símbolo significa un objeto partido en dos. Ambas partes recuerdan que eran una unidad, así pues trabajar lo simbólico sirve para reunificar las dos partes separadas.

Aplíquelo al ombligo.

El cordón umbilical nos mantiene unido a la matriz y cuando se corta deberíamos , en teoría, construirnos como sujetos.

Ser uno.

Sí, femenino y masculino, cuerpo y espíritu, yin y yang. Todo eso que ya nos explicó la mitología griega.

¿Los griegos ya lo contaron todo?

Los mitos griegos, los indios, los esquimales, los africanos…, son todos los mismos.

¿El ser humano ya está contado?

El ser humano es ignorante de sus raíces, y es el papel de la educación, del arte, de la cultura es iluminar nuestro origen, porque si no sabemos de dónde venimos no sabremos a dónde vamos.

Cierto.

El símbolo es una forma pedagógica para ­reencontrar partes de nosotros que hemos ­olvidado.

Deme una clave.

La venganza es una llave. Un mecanismo infinito: la violencia siempre es una respuesta a una violencia anterior quizás olvidada.

¿No podemos detenerla?

Yo propongo, de la forma más simple, reemplazar la venganza por la revancha.

¿Cuál es la diferencia?

Con la venganza yo te hago daño y con eso pierdo parte de mi humanidad. Con la revancha yo no te hago daño, te gano pero no te aplasto, como en el tenis, y entonces crezco.

¿Cómo aplicarlo?

Imagine que en un colegio hay un niño al que han humillado y él se venga, y así el ciclo de violencia se perpetúa. Yo puedo coger a ese niño antes de que se vengue y decirle: “Ahora lo importante es que tú muestres quién eres y desarrolles tus cualidades, porque tú eres un niño extraordinario”.

“¡Pero es que me ha hecho daño!”, protesta el niño.

“Pues conviértete en alguien más fuerte, y cuando seas más fuerte ya no te podrán hacer daño, tómate la revancha”, este es el espíritu.

Es algo muy sutil, póngame otro ejemplo.

Una mujer despechada a la que el marido ha engañado. La revancha sería volver a la universidad y preparar una licenciatura, concentrar la humillación en ser mejor, así el sufrimiento no la aplasta y no querrá aplastar al otro. Va a tomar esa oportunidad para transformarse.

¿Qué le interesa a usted especialmente?

El tema del doble. La parte escondida de uno mismo, la ambigüedad, la ambivalencia, reconocerla nos pacifica y pacificaría al mundo.

¿…?

…Porque no somos de una pieza, somos seres paradójicos: lo que yo detesto en el mundo suele ser una parte mía que no he resuelto y no quiero ver; el reconocimiento de esa contradicción es un reconocimiento del otro.

Suele estar en un ángulo muerto. ¿Hay algún retrovisor que nos permita verla?

Sí, la memoria es un retrovisor, y sobre todo los sueños. En los sueños nada se olvida.

Pero no recordamos los sueños.

Y cuando los recordamos no los comprendemos, necesitamos ayuda para interpretarlos. Hay una frase de Baudelaire que me toca profundamente: “Yo tengo más recuerdos que si tuviera mil años”. Lo tenemos todo en nosotros, pero lo hemos olvidado para reencontrarlo.

¿Tiene algún remedio?

Sí, un cuaderno de sueños: cada mañana al despertar pones la fecha y lo anotas, tal cual, en bruto y en tiempo presente, sin comentarios.

¿Y si no lo recuerdas?

Escribes: “No recuerdo de sueños”, porque el inconsciente recibe la información de que te interesas por él y en 21 días los primeros sueños empiezan a rememorarse. Es un método poderoso para conocerse y estar más en paz.

¿Tiene más llaves?

La poesía. Yo creo que nuestra humanidad ­adolece porque no sueña lo suficiente y por- que la poesía está asfixiada. Los problemas no son solo económicos o políticos, también son poéticos.

La poesía es una clave para volver a dar encanto al mundo. Es inspiración. Yo le propongo que aprenda de memoria los poemas que le gustan y cuando no se sienta bien, recite en voz alta. Y hágalo también en una cena aburrida, en la que se discute de política, tensa o vulgar.

No sé yo.

Pruébelo, recite a Victor Hugo, verá como todo el mundo se calma. El arte es el medicamento universal.

Hay que bajar del pensamiento a la acción.

Cierto. No podemos quedarnos en el pen­samiento, porque los pensamientos se con­frontan, y en cambio los espíritus convergen. El símbolo hay que encarnarlo, ¿y cómo lo ­hacemos? Pidamos a nuestros niños que cuenten sus sueños, estimula la inteligencia y la ­escucha.

De acuerdo.

Necesitamos una sociedad que oferte arte, poesía, filosofía, sueños… La creatividad es básica tanto para crecer como para envejecer bien. La creatividad nos da la fuerza.

La proyección de la sombra

La proyección de la sombra

Cuando nos sentimos atacados, cuando nos molesta algo de alguien estamos viendo la proyección de nuestra propia sombra

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) psicólogo y médico psiquiatra suizo, dedicó toda su carrera al estudio de la psique humana. A lo largo de sus numerosos ensayos fue desarrollando primero, su “Psicología Analítica” y, más tarde, lo que denominó “Psicología Compleja”. Jung habla de la psique y no de la mente, porque, según él, la psique abarca todos los procesos de la mente, los conscientes y los inconscientes.

Entre muchas de sus aportaciones desarrolló el concepto de Arquetipo. Por definición, un arquetipo es un modelo original, un ejemplo ideal o un prototipo. Un símbolo reconocido por todos. Para Jung son la forma que le es dada a algunas experiencias y recuerdos de nuestros primeros antepasados. De alguna manera, son como patrones de conducta que se heredan de generación en generación y que están guardados en nuestro inconsciente.

Si por definición la sombra es inconsciente quiere decir que estamos sometidos a ella.

Jung define el arquetipo sombra como el aspecto inconsciente de la personalidad caracterizado por rasgos y actitudes que el Yo Consciente no reconoce como propios. El inconsciente lucha por mostrarse, pero es reprimido continuamente por el ego. La sombra está formada por energía psíquica reprimida que se proyecta en el exterior. Hay muchas formas de alimentar la sombra, Enric Corbera nos los explica en este video. La más usual es la que conocemos como “luchar para ser bueno”. Por eso Jung decía “Prefiero ser un individuo completo que una persona buena”.

Podemos decir también que tenemos creencias-sombra que son las que controlan nuestros pensamientos, nuestras palabras y nuestros comportamientos. Cada experiencia de la vida es una oportunidad de elegir de nuevo, una oportunidad de enmendar viejos errores que nos permite crecer, experimentar y desarrollarnos. 

Integrar la propia sombra nos va a permitir convivir con nuestra luz y nuestra oscuridad. Nos va a permitir ser lo que somos.

Todos tenemos una doble historia, la que mostramos y con la que nos identificamos y la que ocultamos y a la que rechazamos. En Bioneuroemoción®, a aquello que rechazamos lo llamamos ‘la historia detrás de la historia’. Es justamente esta historia oculta la que nos hace repetir situaciones, dramas y patrones que no nos benefician una y otra vez.

Cada persona tiene su sombra. Una manera de empezar a detectarla es cambiar nuestro diálogo interno y aprender a distinguir que cuando nos quejamos de algo o de alguien nos estamos quejando de algo propio. Por ejemplo, si nos lamentamos de que nadie nos escucha, nos podemos preguntar si nos estamos escuchando a nosotros mismos y así sucesivamente. La Bioneuroemoción® nos invita a reconocer la propia sombra para encontrar nuestra plenitud.“Las crisis son magníficas oportunidades para familiarizarnos con la sombra”.Carl G. Jung.

On an Indian Reservation, a Garden of Buddhas

ARLEE, Mont. — On a rural American Indian reservation here, amid grazing horses and cattle, a Buddhist lama from the other side of the world is nearing completion of a $1.6 million meditative garden that he hopes will draw spiritual pilgrims.
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Mike Albans for The New York Times
Offering prayers to Yum Chenmo, the Great Wisdom Mother.
“There is something pure and powerful about this landscape,” said Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, the 56-year-old Tibetan lama, as he walked down a gravel road on a sunny fall day. “The shape of the hills is like a lotus petal blossoming.”

Richard Gere has not been seen house shopping here — yet. But on the land of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes, a 24-foot statue of Yum Chenmo, the Great Wisdom Mother, has risen in Mr. Sang-ngag’s farm field. Nearby, in his old sheep barn, amid rubber molds and plaster, some 650 statues of Buddha sit in neat rows, illuminated by shafts of light pouring in through broken boards.

It seemed the perfect setup for a clash of two cultures when Mr. Sang-ngag, a high-ranking Buddhist lama, came to this remote part of Montana a decade ago, liked the landscape feng shui and bought a 60-acre sheep ranch. At the foot of the towering, glacier-etched Mission Mountains — not unlike his native Tibet — he and a band of volunteers began building a Garden of 1,000 Buddhas to promote world peace.

The arrival of the exotic culture here in cowboy country, with multicolored prayer flags flapping in the breeze, made some from the Salish and Kootenai tribes uneasy, to say the least.

An unusual land ownership pattern was partly to blame. While most Indian reservations are majority-owned by the tribes, a 1904 law allowed nonmembers of the tribes to homestead land. And as a result, there are four to five times as many non-Indians on the reservation as there are Indians.

Mr. Sang-ngag called his place Ewam Sang-ngag Ling, or the Land of Secret Mantra, Wisdom and Compassion. It turns out that it was sacred to the tribes as well, a place where, oral traditions hold, a coyote vanquished a monster and drove out many bad spirits so the people could live here.

Julie Cajune, the executive director for American Indian Policy at Salish Kootenai College and other Indians began working to build bridges between the tribes and the Buddhists. They suggested that the Buddhists bring traditional gifts, prayer scarves and tobacco, to the tribal council, which they did.

“Many people move here without recognition they are a guest,” Ms. Cajune said. “None of the mainstream churches or the Amish have done that.”

Buddhists in Japan, Taiwan and China have sent money for Buddha statues. The Dalai Lama has agreed to come and consecrate the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas after the project it is finished, perhaps in 2012.

But the patchwork of Indian and non-Indian land holdings within the reservation remains contentious. Some tribal members are worried that groups drawn to the Buddhist garden will buy up nontribal land, driving prices further out of the reach of Indians, and ignore tribal rules and customs.

They point to the case of Amish families who have bought farmland within the reservation, said Ms. Cajune, who is Salish.

“It’s ironic, but many Indian people can’t afford to buy land on their own reservation,” she said. A typical acre for building a home here might cost $30,000 — an enormous amount in rural and tribal Montana.

But Ms. Cajune said there was also an uncanny kinship between the tribal and Buddhist cultures, based on understandings of sacred landscapes, and even notions of honor and respect.

The biggest driver of rapprochement here is a shared history of subjugation and displacement — for the Tibetans, at the hands of the Chinese (Mr. Sang-ngag spent nine years in a Chinese labor camp) and for the tribes, by the American government.

“There is a shared vision of cultures being under pressure and surviving,” Mr. Sang-ngag said through a translator.

The heart of the 60-acre development is the 10-acre Garden of 1,000 Buddhas. When tribal elders came and blessed it, the two groups found they both used juniper and sage as purifying incense for ceremonies, for example, as well as similar prayer cloths and ritual drumming.

After much outreach by the Buddhists, including asking permission from the tribe to have the Dalai Lama consecrate the ground, Ms. Cajune said, “I think local people are feeling more comfortable.”

The sheep are gone from the green hills here now. “They achieved Buddhahood,” joked Mr. Sang-ngag, as he walked through the garden, designed in the shape of the dharma wheel, which symbolizes the core teachings of Buddhism. The Great Wisdom Mother statue contains sacred vases and holy texts. Swords, guns and other symbols of war are buried underneath, to symbolize a triumph over violence.

In the Buddha barn, meanwhile, is a Norton motorcycle, which members here jokingly refer to as the sacred chopper. It will be raffled to raise money to finish the garden. About half the money has been raised.

Last week the Buddhists began planning with the tribal officials about managing pilgrimages to the site, a possible headache for the tribe. “Some people want to keep the reservation a good, quiet secret,” Ms. Cajune said.

But Mr. Sang-ngag says good karma, or spiritual energy, is ebbing from the earth, and the garden will help enhance it. “It’s designed to awaken the Buddha nature” of wisdom and compassion in anyone who gazes upon it, said Lama Tsomo, a student who lives nearby.

A potential cultural clash has become cultural reconciliation. “It’s two cultures honoring each other in peace,” Ms. Cajune said. “That’s a powerful story people need to hear.”

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10 misconceptions about buddhism

#6 The Buddha was human & Buddhism has no place for the worship of gods.

Buddhism is famous in the West as an “atheistic religion,” in the sense that, unlike the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, it does not recognize a single creator deity. However, one should not assume from this that Buddhism has no gods. It has not one, but many.

In traditional Buddhist cosmology, the gods—or deva in Sanskrit, a cognate of “divinity”—are distributed among 27 heavens (svarga): six are located in the sensuous realm (kamadhatu) along the slopes, at the summit, and in the air above Mount Sumeru, the mountain at the center of the world; 17 in the meditation heavens of the realm of subtle materiality (rupadhatu); and four are in the immaterial realm (arupyadhatu), where there is no form, only consciousness. Because each of these heavens is located within samsara, the realm of rebirth, none of these heavens is a permanent abode of the gods who live there, and none of the gods is eternal. Rebirth as a god is based on virtuous actions performed in a previous life, and when the god’s lifespan is over, the being is reborn some place else. Thus, no god in Buddhism has the omniscience, the omnipotence, or the omnipresence of God in the Abrahamic religions. This does not mean, however, that gods have no powers. They have powers far beyond those of humans. And over the long history of Buddhism, Buddhists, including monks and nuns, have propitiated various gods for blessings and boons. A substantial part of tantric practice, for example, is devoted to inviting gods into one’s presence, making offerings to them, and then requesting the bestowal of various powers (siddhi).

What then is the status of the Buddha? Technically, he is a human, among the five other rebirth destinies (sadgati) in samsara: gods, demigods, animals, ghosts, and denizens of hell. But he is unlike any other human, both in his relation to the gods and in his physical and mental qualities.

In his penultimate lifetime, the Buddha-to-be was a god, abiding, where all future buddhas abide, in the Tushita heaven. It was from there that he surveyed the world, and chose the place of his final birth, his caste, his clan, and his parents. After his enlightenment, the Buddha spent 49 days in contemplation in the vicinity of the Bodhi Tree, concluding, the story goes, that what he had understood was too profound for others to understand, and thus futile to try to teach to anyone. The most powerful of the gods, Brahma, descended from his heaven to implore the Buddha to teach, arguing that although many might not be able to understand, there were some with “little dust in their eyes” who would. This is an important moment because it makes clear that the Buddha knew something that the gods did not, and that the gods had been waiting for a new buddha to appear in the world to teach them the path to freedom from rebirth, even from rebirth in heaven. For this reason, one of the epithets of the Buddha is devatideva—“god above the gods.”

Although a human, the Buddha has a body unlike any other. It is adorned with the 32 marks of a superman (mahapurusalaksana), such as images of wheels on the palms of his hands and soles of his feet, a bump on the top of his head, forty teeth, and a circle of hair between his eyes that emits beams of light. Some of the marks are characteristics found in animals rather than humans: webbed fingers and toes like a duck’s, arms that extend below the knees like an ape’s, and a penis that retracts into body like a horse’s. His mind knows all of his past lives and the past lives of all beings in the universe. In fact, he is omniscient (although the various Buddhist schools have different ideas about exactly what this means). Even in the early tradition, it is said that he can live for an eon or until the end of the eon, if he is asked to do so. And in the Lotus Sutra it says that his lifespan is immeasurable. He can go anywhere in the universe. He can perform all manner of miracles.

Did he create the universe? No. Is he omniscient? Yes. Is he omnipotent? It depends on what you mean. Is he eternal? Sort of. Is he God? You decide.

Robert E. Buswell Jr. holds the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is also Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies and founding director of the Center for Buddhist Studies. Donald S. Lopez Jr., a Tricycle contributing editor, is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan. They are coauthors of the recently released Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism.