Exploring New Terrain

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In the mode of extending compassionate action (Lesson 8) we explored ways an engaged Buddhist can extend their compassion into the fields of practice. Where do we find our fields of practice? The outer circle of the Wheel offers broad fields of practice. Where in the world do you find your path? Is your route one no one has yet to explore?

In its long history, Buddhism has repeatedly adapted to different cultures and fresh circumstances. The lore of every major lineage honors pioneers and pilgrims who journeyed to new lands, semi-legendary figures who still serve as archetypes of spiritually motivated exploration.

The "first ancestor" of Zen, Bodhidharma, is said to have traveled all the way from India to China, reaching his goal by crossing the Yangtze River on a single reed. Padmasambhava trekked the Himalayas to bring Buddhism to Tibet. The Chinese master Chien-chen endured dangerous shipwrecks and other reversals to transmit a monastic lineage to Japan; by the time he arrived, he had gone blind. The first Westerners to seek Buddhism in once exotic places like Lhasa, Kandy, and Kyoto endured physical and emotional hardships in order to taste the wisdom of cultures that were profoundly foreign. The luminous courage of these pioneers is another attribute of bodhisattva mind.

What new terrain might you explore? If you were to"journey" to new terrain in which to engage, where might that be?