The Next Buddha is Sangha

In the spirit of sangha and lovingkindness, Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia offers this week’s reflections for the NYI community.

In Buddhism there is no shortage of lists of all the nasty states that one needs to see and overcome—the taints, the fetters, the cankers, the hindrances, the defilements. One can really feel quite burdened with the heaviness of it all. If we aren’t careful this kind of teaching can play right into the hands of what is already a highly developed capacity for self-loathing in Westerners. We hear about all these things that we need to overcome and this just precipitates new ways to beat up on ourselves. You get the feeling that you have to squash and pounce and beat things down.

But the effort here is to acknowledge that we all have highly conditioned states that don’t serve us. Yes, we need to become skilled at recognizing these, but we have to learn to do that in a way that is profoundly impartial, kind and compassionate. Our karma is such that we think, do and say things that cause harm to ourselves and to others. We have to see that … and … it has to be okay so that we can receive it, not judge it, or quarrel with it. Then we are well-positioned to learn if it serves us. Impartiality is the name of the game.

So while it is clear that the Buddhist teachings encourage us to clean up our act, they also encourage us to open to and accept the way we are. Sometimes the teachings seem to say one thing and then the exact opposite. Our task is to reconcile these apparent contradictions.

With metta,
Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia

Gloria Taraniya is a Lay Buddhist Minister in association with Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in CA. She is a Core Faculty member at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and served as Insight Meditation Society Resident Teacher for many years.