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"You don't have to be buddhist to be compassionate, you don't have to be buddhist to be wise
June 19th, 2013

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

"You don't have to be buddhist to be compassionate, you don't have to be buddhist to be wise…"
— Martine Batchelor

Consequence? It's okay to be a 'buddhist' isolated among non-buddhists, or people who don't 'care'. You can still practice!

There's no point in waiting until the 'right' conditions appear for you to practice in a 'supportive' environment. You might end up dying while still waiting! "The right conditions" merely is a mental fabrication, a case of clinging to our little comfort, wanting an easy (easier) spiritual life… The web of life is all that is needed as a supporting context to "see things as they are."

The goal is the cessation of 'ignorance', it is to "see things as they are": not as you'd like them to be, not as you expected them to be, not as they 'should' be… Not as 'necessary' outcomes any more than as 'random' outcomes, outcomes of which the arising you had all, or nothing, to do with…

There isn't another context, the context you're in is your context, that's it: waiting will only waste the current opportunities until a point in the future of your context when you'll face the same dilemma again between "being here&now" and "locking yourself in self-centred narratives about how great life would be if only it was as you'd wish it to be."
The only way to step out of your context is to entirely stop appropriating parts of reality as 'yours'. Stop the appropriation and the 'self' will dissolve. Realise selflessness and the 'you' will quit saṃsāra.

The current context might not give you great joy, but that's not depressing. That's the only context you can engage in, but the positive side is that you indeed can engage with it, i.e. you can influence it and you can influence how you experience it.

Here&now is the only time and place of action. It is irrelevant whether you see how causality (incl. karma but not exclusively) led you to your current context, or don't see. Here&now is the only time when you can engage with reality and change things, plant better seeds, learn, fix past mistakes, embody wholesome qualities… You need to care about causality inasmuch you can use it, i.e. forward-looking: actions here&now will have consequences. Choose your acts as wisely as you can, given your current conditions and circumstances.

Here&now is the context to which you might most easily choose to relate differently. This is a bit tricky.
The 'past' is a narrative you (very selectively) make up and center on some notion of a 'self', so it's hard to relate to it differently. The 'future' is also a narrative you make up and center on some notion of a 'self', so it's hard to relate to it differently. If you look deeply enough, you'll notice how the past of others or future of others are of interest to you only as much as they would influence yours. Like the present, these narratives about past and future are inter-dependent, self-centred-ness is not the same as pure independent mirage… but you only access what you consider 'yours'!
The one time you don't entirely make up is 'now', because 'now' forces you to come face-to-face with impermanence a lot more clearly that your narratives (although they change too, but sentient beings are good at convincing themselves the narratives are permanent truths and did not change). You still quickly put a filter on here&now, a filter from what you choose to pay attention to, but reality is contingent. It resists your filters and will not care about what you think 'should' be: things happen that you never expected. This makes here&now the best point of practice.
It is indeed possible to realise 'emptiness' in relation to the past and future, but here&now helps you. Reality helps you. The potential for your enlightenment manifests itself when you cultivate paying attention. You can 'trust' reality, you can have 'faith' in it: the constantly changing colours of here&now 'call' for your attention, they incentivise you to pay attention, i.e. reality itself 'wants' you to awaken. In Mahāyāna terms, this is the Dharmakāya providing all that you need to realise your buddha-nature.
You just have to drop the veils, and look, without narratives, without automatically connecting what we see with a pattern from the past or a response we prepared in advance! You just have to indeed pay attention, and see what's required by the situation (without prejudice about what you are ready to offer).

"You don't have to be buddhist to be compassionate, you don't have to be buddhist to be wise…"
Can you pay attention enough to actually see this around you, not as a theoretical notion you'd agree with, but as practical examples you could praise others for if asked to act as a moral reference for them? What prevents you from seeing the good in others?

#Buddhism   #engagedbuddhism  
photo: "Bodhisattva" © Joonho Jeon (South Korea), 2008
quote source: 28'49'' video entitled "Be your own teacher" with Martine Batchelor (one of my teachers) — with a few moments in French, but mostly in English, with subtitles in Dutch: