by Leah Leach
My intention is to help make what I have learned in Buddhism approachable to all levels of readers regardless of faith or practice. I also cultivate the intention to share this wisdom with all beings.
There are moments when I feel the world reveals herself.
As if a crystal-clear mirror is put in front of a complex feeling, situation, or emotion. In that mirror, I see its true reflection. In relation to the moments of the universe, it is minuscule, but for that moment, I feel I understand just one more thing.
The filtered world I have chosen to live in is filled with books I chose to read, movies I scroll past, algorithms that filter my friends’ activities on social media, and the news I chose to have in my life.
I have worked hard to distance myself from things that are drama for the sake of drama and fear for the sake of power. I do not feed the trolls, but I stand up for the things that matter in my life and community.
Even though I am understanding of the bubble that I have created, and that is created for me, I still see so much polarity. I still see so much duality. The culture I see around me is heavily divided.
Good – Evil
Black – White
Male – Female
Republican – Democrat
Vegan – Keto
Too fat – Too thin
Rich – Poor
Alive – Dead
Maybe it is because I grew up in the Cola Wars where Coke or Pepsi tried to be less of a choice and more of a statement. Maybe it is because Star Wars had the Empire and the Rebel forces that each used either the dark side of the force or followed the Jedi path. It is most likely my Christan upbringing of sinners and saints, and believers and heathens. Not much grey area in my Bible school class.
I rebelled against absolutes. I didn’t see anything good that came out of a theory that there is only one way to think. I choose to study the world’s major religions to learn their similarities.
When thinking of a world with pairs of opposites in constant struggle with each other, I think of a coin.
Let’s use the motif of good and evil. Pick one side to be “good” and the other side to be “evil.” Flip that coin. When it lands, it will most likely have one side up. Let’s say it is the “good” side that is facing up. All you see is good. The evil is hidden, it is out of sight. This is the lens through which you see the world because the other side is suppressed. Even though it is just on the other side and part of the same coin.
But it is the “good” side, wouldn’t you only want to see that side? Of course you would! But have you ever gotten an email from a Nigerian Prince? What if you only saw the good intentions in emails from strangers that need your bank account number?
On the contrary, if you only see “evil” you could miss out on meaningful relationships because you would struggle to trust anyone.
The problem with the coin and the duality it creates, you are trapped into seeing just one side until you flip or move the coin again.
With so much going on, do we really have time to flip that coin and see what the other side is up to?
I mean, we should.
It doesn’t fully matter which side of the coin you are on because, no matter what, you are only getting half of a perspective.
The solution is to see life resting on the edge of a coin. It is very hard to get a coin to rest on its edge, but it is possible. If it’s resting on its edge, you can see both sides; you are not ignorant of the other side.
Social media, politics, and the news will certainly try to tip your coin over to one side or the other, and that’s why it is so hard to stay on the edge.
What would be a solution is a coin with a wider edge. More surface area to rest and still see both sides.
But today our world feels like a narrow-edged coin. This polarization is dividing us, and there are many times I feel it is intentional – like the Cola Wars again. The polarization is for you to become brand loyal to brown-sugar water so you become an unpaid spokesperson of the product. Sometimes you become so loyal you will not visit a restaurant that doesn’t have your brand of brown-sugar water. Sometimes you battle your friends over their own personal choice as if there is a right or wrong choice. The only people who “win” in this war is the company who has convinced you to spend a lifetime of money on their product,
This polarization goes beyond the products we buy; soda, shoes, purses, and phones, it is also politics, religion, race, gender, where you went to school, and how much money you have in the bank.
Yes, it is easier to be on one side or another of an issue. Having one thing figured out of that permanent choice can feel liberating. To quote Fight Club: “It’s just, when you buy furniture, you tell yourself, that’s it. That’s the last sofa I’m gonna need. Whatever else happens, I’ve got that sofa problem handled.” But you’re missing something amazing – freedom. Freedom to change your mind. Freedom to get a new sofa, to change your political party affiliation, to try a different brown-sugar water.
Not acknowledging another perspective keeps us ignorant and fearful. Not allowing ourselves freedom without self-imposed limits restricts joy.
Instead of trying to rest the edge of the coin on a flat surface, rest that edge in the ground.
In Buddhism, we talk about the ground of being. It is the physical earth that holds all of us. It is the support system that connects everyone. When I touch the ground, I picture roots extending from my fingertips and extending to the earth’s core and all the way around.
In the ground of being, I can connect to all that have ever stepped on the ground.
If you take that coin, and you rest it in the dirt or on the sand, it can rest easier on its edge. The ground holds it upright, just as the ground of being holds all of us.
If you grow tired of polarity and dualism, anchor yourself to the ground of being. Feel the connection with all living things.
Know there are more than two choices in anything.
Don’t let your choices define you – you are worth more than that.
Be open to those moments when the edge of a coin teaches you something about the world.
TINY BIT OF HOUSEWORK
I am a student of the Magyu Lineage (Mother Lineage) under the leadership of Lama Tsultrim Allione of the Tara Mandala Center.
I’ll be going into more detail in further posts and at Tara Circle meet-ups at Gal’s Guide Library. If you have questions email me at email@example.com