Even if you’ve never heard of the Buddha, and know of enlightenment only as the name given to an historical era that started in Europe in the 18th Century, the practice of meditation can still help you understand yourself, or even heal yourself. In this issue of Inquiring Mind—along with our 10th anniversary retrospective—we focus on how meditation practice is moving out of retreat centers and zendos, and into hospitals, prisons, inner cities, and political action campaigns, often leaving the Buddha behind. We examine, as well, how dharma with a small “d” can become a part of daily life, as we raise our children, come to the aid of our friends, and struggle with our own inner dilemmas.
Our featured interview is with Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is doing ground-breaking work with meditation outside of a Buddhist setting. We also talked with two of Kabat-Zinn’s colleagues: George Mumford, who is teaching in prisons, and Danielle Alvares, who is working with meditation in an inner city social service center. The approach of Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues resonates with that of the Dalai Lama, as reported in Jack Kornfield’s talk on the Western Buddhist teachers’ meeting: “Don’t think about how I can spread Buddhism. The only thing that matters is the well-being of each person, and the well-being of the earth that we live on.”
In our other articles: Judith Stronach offers a fascinating account of “The Listening Project,” a political mediation group whose unique tactics are inspired by meditation practice; James Baraz explores the challenges he encounters teaching non-violence to his son; Yvonne Rand describes the use of an old Japanese Buddhist ritual in helping people cope with the trauma of abortion; and Barbara Gates gives us a Joycean run through the mean streets of her own mind. In this issue of Inquiring Mind, we see the dharma meet the drama, in many cases making for a much happier third act.
Cover art is by Lorraine Capparell, based on a drawing we received from an overseas reader.