Choosing What's True

Featured in Mountain Record 31.2, Winter 2012-2013


In the course of a single day we each face countless choices—choices that, once made, shape our lives. In what we do and say, in what we think and how we relate, the whole of our world is born. Add to this our human capacity to tell good from bad, true from false, help from hindrance, and all our activity takes on a moral edge. And although there are extremes of right and wrong that nearly everyone agrees upon, for most of us the diurnal round unfolds within a much subtler moral spectrum.

In this issue, the last in our three-part series on “Morality,” we dig in to where morality actually lives: in our own individual hearts and minds. The writing in these pages offers a look at day-to-day morality from perspectives we may not have considered: Shugen Sensei looks at how our conditioned, reactive thinking can lead to prejudice and oppression; Ryushin Sensei examines how our tendency to judge and compare cuts us off from life’s innate perfection. .

If moral activity moves us toward truth and wholeness, then any action that creates falseness or separation is a deviation, giving rise to the seed of what we know as evil. Shugen Sensei writes, “How quickly the mind assumes certainty and mastery of the situation. There are profound, seemingly infinite implications to this. Call it human history…the endless cycle of birth and death…the ceaseless war of humankind….” And yet such sweeping arcs of space and time begin here and now, inside of us. .

The pieces in this issue explore the journey toward wholeness as a deeply personal, intimate matter—being true within ourselves and relating to others from this truth. Authors Toi Derricote and Kenji Yoshino grapple with questions of identity and authenticity in a culture that fears difference; Heather King reflects on depression and the grace of self-acceptance; Pico Iyer explores the relationship of those who live with privilege to those who lack it; Robert Coles observes the frequent gap between our moral ideals and our actual activity. There is anger, grief and confusion in these pages; there is joy, wonder and realization here, too.

If we muster the courage to grapple with the dark habits of our mind; if we honestly face the subtle ways we turn away; if we move beyond our ideas of good and bad and sincerely ask the question—then where do we find ourselves? What is a moral life? How do we hold truth? How do we let truth hold us? .

Danica Shoan Ankele, MRO
Mountain Record, Editor