Lion's Roar

The Next Generation

THICH NHAT HANH SAID that if you want to know the past, look at the present, because everything you see is a product of the past. And if you want to know the future, also look at the present, because the future is being created right now.

As Johnny Edward Dean Jr. says in his essay here, the future of Buddhism is now—you and I are co-creating it through the kind acts and sincere contributions we make today. But the literal truth is also true—the future is in the future. Having just celebrated my sixty-eighth birthday, I know I’m not going to be part of Buddhism’s next forty years (at least not in this body). The future belongs to young Buddhists like the five who share their thoughts, hopes, and ideals here.

I think you’ll be heartened—I know I am—when you read what they have to say. They are thoughtful, engaged, and whole-hearted in their dedication to the well-being of others, qualities I see in so many of their generation. The future of Buddhism—and the world—will be in good hands.

This is the fitting conclusion to our yearlong anniversary series looking at the next forty years of Buddhism. The essays, thirty in all, address some of the key challenges and opportunities that will define Buddhism going forward: message, diversity, deep practice and study, reform, and the next generation. You can read all the previous contributions at years. Together, they offer an inspiring roadmap for Buddhism’s future.

We have presented this special series to celebrate Lion’s Roar’s first forty years. I hope we have many more years working together with you to benefit people’s lives, our society, and the development of Buddhism. We don’t even have to wait. Our future is now.

We Need More Heart

It’s not just about mind and meditation, says RAVI MISHRA. To meet the needs of this time, Buddhists must take special care to develop their hearts.

At long last, a social justice lens has emerged in convert American Buddhism. Slowly but steadily, we have begun to identify systemic biases—the psychologies of capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and so on—and the imprints they’ve left on our fledgling tradition. These include, but are not limited to, secularism, intellectualism, a disdain of faithbased philosophies, and an escapist tendency to bypass the realities of the world.

I believe something fundamental is finally being exposed in the process—that our tradition, as practiced today, needs more heart.

When we think of “the ideal Buddhist,” we might envision a meditator, perhaps even Siddhartha Gautama himself, sitting in serene practice. But this is not the whole story. We should remember, for example, the story of young Gautama, the Buddha-to-be, weeping at the death of an insect.

Just as a bird needs two wings to fly—as the fully realized Buddha would later teach—a student of the dharma must develop, nourish, and rely on the interdependent qualities of compassion and wisdom. To make the most of our collective moment, modern Buddhists should take special care to develop the heart.

Here are three ways we can start.

Practicing Heart-centric Meditations

As the teachings, especially those related to mindfulness meditation, say, cultivating stability of mind through

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