文／ 美國佛心寺護法會諮詢委員、研經班學員 Blaine FriersonMahayana Buddhism for the westerner is a complete reorientation of life. In the West, you are trained to take initiative, to reach out, to move forward. It is said, 'If you don't do it, who will?' Being aggressive is the way to success and accomplishment; Those who wait don't eat; Those who procrastinate don't succeed. Yet, Buddhism teaches the opposite.
In the West we are also told in our education system to define every item to its most minute degree, and to logically separate those definitions by making distinctions. The so-called critical method of study encourages students to contrast, compare, and make critical distinctions. This is the opposite of Buddhism and thus leads to a different path.
In Mahayana Buddhism, we are taught to 'just sit', to not make distinctions, to not compare and contrast. When we try to assert ourselves, shoving forward into life, we become lost.When we wait, or, just sit, the world and everything in it comes to us! The whole world manifests itself in us. We do not manifest ourselves in the world; we allow all beings, sentient and non-sentient to manifest themselves through us. This is practice. This is enlightenment.
We wait. This is the secret to the Buddhist principle of tolerance. By its definition tolerance does not force itself on other beings. It waits. It listens. It watches the breath. It counts the breath. It watches the watcher.
Tolerance may be defined as the practice of permitting a thing of which one disapproves. It may be also called patience, or long-suffering. In tolerance, we wait; we make no distinction; we do not judge; we see the others as ourselves-us.
As not good, not bad. We allow the intolerant person to manifest themselves through us. This is neither good, nor is it bad. It is not approved and it is not disapproved. It merely exists.
As a young male growing up in the United States, I was trained to not allow anyone to overstep their boundaries with me, to prevent aggression by another, and to 'stand up for myself.' This is in contradiction to Buddhism.
My profession is practicing law. When I first started practicing, I wrote one of my first letters to another lawyer, making a demand. The old lawyer called me and said 'you need to watch what you say in your letters, for, if you are too demanding you may be committing extortion on others.' I have remembered this lesson forever, but I have never really quite understood the philosophy behind his words.
In Buddhism I have learned the logic behind the lesson. To practice the Buddha Way one must be patient, kind and tolerant. When a person becomes aggressive or raises his/her voice towards me, I try not to speak and say little, to allow them to speak their piece before responding. Then, when I speak, I speak with power; I speak from the heart.
The Buddha way is waiting and being one with the world. The world is one through your sitting. The world comes to you. You do not go to the world. The peace that passes all understanding will come when you wait, if you are tolerant.