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Faithbook SharonSalzberg

Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has been a student of Buddhism since 1971, guiding meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness) are the foundations of her work. "Each of us has a genuine capacity for love, forgiveness, wisdom and compassion. Meditation awakens these qualities so that we can discover for ourselves the unique happiness that is our birthright." She is the author of many books including: Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.

How Do You Imagine God?
God in America and USA WEEKEND Magazine are partnering to explore Americans' images of God.

How do you imagine God? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I imagine God as a force of truth, as the abiding laws of nature found in the spaces between objects, concerns, obsessions, regrets, blame. Like being close enough to the ocean that we hear the ocean's rhythm underneath ordinary conversations, we can hear the rhythm of absolute truth under the ordinary flow of events: the ups and downs and successes and failures and exhilarations and challenges. We can glimpse it underneath the commonplace ways we think about ourselves and our lives. How would I depict that absolute truth? One of the most brilliant and best-known images in the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism is that of Indra's Net. In Indra’s net, the universe is described as a net of infinite proportions. At each interlacing point, where the strings of the net meet, there is a multi-faceted, highly-reflective jewel, like a diamond or a piece of crystal. Each jewel reflects the others, including the reflected images held in the others. To look at one jewel, at one point, is to see the reflection of all jewels, at all points. To look at ourselves is to discover all beings and all things in the universe, to look at others is to see ourselves as well. Every event, every entity, every emotion, every experience we have is born out of a web of interconnectedness. In all of existence there is no one and no thing that stands apart. that's my image of God.

My Beliefs

I believe ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator in the vast, innate potential we all have for unbounded love and compassion, for wisdom, for freedom of mind and heart. According to the Buddha's teaching, no one is left out of this vision of possibility. This capacity may be covered over (and usually is), it may be hard to find, it may be hard to trust, but it is said that it is never, ever destroyed, no matter what we may do or go through. We can look at the Buddha and see ourselves, we can see all that we can be. We can look at ourselves and we see not just one person’s potential, but the capacity for freedom, the nascent buddha within everyone. Taking refuge in the Buddha, as I did in 1971, was, for me, like having a mirror held up before me, and seeing myself in ways I hadn’t before- with the potential for transformation, and possessed of an innate beauty. As we all are.
My most powerful moment of belief was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator in India, in 1970, before I learned how to meditate, though I had gone to India for just that purpose. I was in Bodhgaya, the town that has grown around the tree the Buddha is said to have been sitting under when he became enlightened. I would often meet a Tibetan monk, Khunu Rinpoche, under that tree. This is how I described it in my book, Faith;trusting Your Own Deepest Experience: As I sat next to Khunu Rinpoche, I sensed deep within me the possibility of rising above the circumstances of my childhood, of defining myself by something other than my family’s painful struggles and it’s hardened tone of defeat. I recalled the resignation in my father’s eyes at the constraints that governed his life. The boundary of his autonomy was the decision about where to have lunch if someone took him out of the hospital on a pass. With a surge of conviction, I thought, But I am here, and I can learn to be truly free. I felt as if nothing and no one could take away the joy of that prospect. http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Trusting-Your-Deepest-Experience/dp/1573223409/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1286568953&sr=1-1
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator actualizing my potential as a human being for lovingkindness, wisdom, freedom from suffering and limitation. I stepped onto the spiritual path moved by an inner sense that I might find greatness of heart, that I might find profound belonging, that I might find a hidden source of love and compassion. Like a homing instinct for freedom, my intuitive sense that this was possible was the faint, flickering, yet undeniable expression of faith.

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Published October 11, 2010

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