When you begin to study the dharma, the word freedom very likely takes on a new meaning. While freedom conventionally refers to a social or political condition, Buddhists might add that freedom begins in the mind; without mastery of ourselves, we are at the mercy of karmic conditioning.
In this issue of Inquiring Mind, we explore a few different flavors of freedom, starting with a newly translated teaching by the Thai master Buddhadasa. He explains what he calls “the supreme freedom,” which he defines as synonymous with “supreme voidness.” Buddhadasa says that this freedom leads to “a life that doesn’t bite.” In a complementary article, his translator, Santikaro, confirms the value of Buddhadasa’s type of freedom by revealing our cultural illusions in an article he titled “Freedom in the U.S.A.: Unrealistic, Distracting and Delusory Notions.”
Performance artist Nina Wise writes of the “freedom to fall apart—the precious capacity we have as humans to allow our hearts to break open. Author Perry Garfinkel reveals a kind of freedom that perhaps only those who have been treated as second-class citizens, or second-class humans, can truly understand. He tells stories of low-caste Hindus who have formally converted to Buddhism in order to escape the degradations of the caste system and who now have found dignity, at least in their own eyes.
Also in this issue, author Ronna Kabatznick looks at her own cravings around food through the Buddhist monastic ritual of alms rounds and the Jewish sabbath. In contrast, on our practice page, Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia explores the Buddhist admonishment against clinging to rites and rituals. In an excerpt from his new book “Awake in the Wild,” Theravadan teacher Mark Coleman tells us how meditation helped to bring nature into his field of awareness, even in the big city, while Richard Shankman examines the significance of a “concentrated mind” in Buddhist meditation practices. In light of the approaching holiday season, our book review section offers a special look at larger format, “coffee table books,” appropriate for gifts. And, as we do on occasion, in this issue we turn our regular poetry pages to the presentation of poems sent to us by our readers.
As you turn the pages of this issue of Inquiring Mind may you be inspired to pursue the freedom that you need, and may you all live a life that doesn’t bite.