No Fear

“With no hindrance in the mind; no hindrance and therefore no fear; far beyond delusive thinking, right here is Nirvana.” Heart Sutra.

Recently we had International Women’s Day on March 8, and the Women’s March 4 Justice Rally on March 15. I came across this relevant excerpt from ‘The Hidden Lamp’ by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon. It’s from Dipa Ma, a Therevadan teacher from Bangladesh and India who greatly influenced the Vipassna movement in the U.S.

“Dipa Ma was on an airplane with a woman student. It was very turbulent, and the woman screamed. Dipa Ma was sitting across the aisle and took her hand and held it. Then she whispered, “The daughters of the Buddha are fearless.”

Amita Schmidt’s Reflection: “The first time I heard this story I thought ‘Wait a minute, the Buddha never had a daughter.’ Dipa Ma, however, is pointing to a truth here that is deeper than historical facts. First of all she is teaching her student that as Buddhist practitioners each one of us belongs to the Buddha’s family. No one is left out, not by gender, nor by time or history. We all belong to the lineage and the awakening of the Buddha, right here, right now.”

Also commenting on the fearless attitude of a daughter of the Buddha she writes: “Waking up is not a part-time job for the faint-hearted. It is the intention to meet every moment continually without flinching.”

Recently there have been many women in Australia, especially young women, speaking out fearlessly. They know that, as one of the slogans at the rally said, we must “Shatter the silence, Stop the violence.” As human beings we seem to have the habit of hanging on to habits, and habitual ways of viewing the world. If everyone does it, puts up with it, it must ok. Right? 

Yet again, triggered by all the stories emerging, we are being brought to listen to the daily reality for many women, and hopefully to step over the threshold of our comfortable safety.

How can we apply our Buddhist practice here? Our practice teaches us to respect each person, to see in ourselves and each person the True Person of No Rank, as Lin-ji calls it. Maybe really listening, really being open to each person’s situation, examining our own habits of mind, is what is required.

How can our practice help us in the face of discriminating views? If we have openness, fearlessness, and a willingness not to give up, if we have a resolve to keep taking the one next step, then it is inevitable that anything is possible in creating a just and humane community. 

Grace Tame, Young Australian of the Year, is so admirable in the way she speaks fearlessly, and yet she also takes it to the next level. She said “When we share, we heal.” Sharing the pain is the way to step forward together. Sharing it with all beings, women and men, this is the legacy of the daughters of Buddha.

In the Red Pine translation of the Heart Sutra, he translates hindrance as ‘walls of the mind’. I like this, the discovering that those walls or barriers are illusory, and yet so difficult to demolish. But we keep on with each step, so that we find that ‘Far beyond delusive thinking, right here is Nirvana.’

Written by: Jane Andino, SZC apprentice teacher