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Close to the Ground: Two Words

When it was time to step down from my role as the guiding teacher of Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple some 10 years ago, I spent a long time fussing about what my final dharma talk would be. I knew it needed to be directed toward Koho Vince Anila, who was about to step into the role. At the same time I wanted to leave something behind for the sangha members—a secret superpower—if I could. So I fussed. I would bolt awake in the middle of the night for weeks with full paragraphs of advice in my head, mostly about all the ways we can pay better attention to what generosity looks like in the new century, until I ended up with about 12 pages of aphorisms that were at best only OK.On the morning of Koho’s transmission ceremony all this changed. I suddenly realized that two simple words would give him, and them, all the superpowers they needed. The words? Right action. In Buddhism right action is a bit of a tricky concept. It grows out of a faith that—in every moment—there is an exact response that is the correct response to whatever situation we find ourselves in. It moves the moment forward in a way that intr …

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