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The Dharma excludes nothing, happy or sad

by Rev. Dogo Barry Graham Sensei, Phoenix, Arizona, The Buddhist Channel, June 25, 2007

As a Zen Buddhist monk, I found the letter from E.W. Silke demanding only "happy content" disturbing, because it reminded me once again that too many people who identify as Buddhists lack even a rudimentary understanding of what the Buddha taught.

Buddhist practice is not about making ourselves feel good by willfully deluding ourselves. The Buddha did not turn a blind eye to suffering; the entirety of his teaching addresses the suffering of all beings.

The Dharma excludes nothing. Silke's demand that we turn away from those who are suffering (like the monk who has been living with HIV for 20 years) is deluded and cruel, and has more to do with New Age narcissism than with the Buddha Dharma.

Buddhism goes straight to the source of suffering, with honesty and compassion. We let go of our suffering by seeing things as they are, without attachment. And, like the Buddha, like Bodhidharma, like Dogen, like every authentic Buddhist practitioner through history, when we see clearly then we see what's harmful, and we take strong and compassionate action to offer a remedy.

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