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“We are polarized.” This is asserted so often in these times that it begins to numb us, and so it's easy to ignore its implications and gravity. It feels like we are locked in an existential and intractable struggle over right and wrong – that is if we allow ourselves to feel. There is pain all around, and it is inseparable from the pain within each of us. There are infinite reasons to shield ourselves from the pain. But the Dalai Lama has said, “The threshold between right and wrong is pain.” If that's true, how do we discern a moral way forward without experiencing the pain and struggle? Another truth, from the Buddha, is that life is suffering, no matter what path you choose. Those of us who have embraced that and practiced using it as a path to liberation, have seen that there is pain that is soaked in denial and blame and there is pain that is generative and redeeming. A way to learn the difference between and the utility of those two is to contemplate and experience (i.e., feel) the effect of each on our bodies. In doing so, we can get beyond mere concept and the deceitfulness of our egoistic minds. We can get down to what we hold ourselves accountable to – beyond doctrine, social norms, hierarchical power, and selfish desire and comfort. And maybe, just maybe, given our inescapable interdependence with each other and all beings, we can discover a common embodied experience that will foster trust and a shared pursuit of that to which we hold ourselves accountable.
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