Power & You (Summer 2023 Editor’s Note)

Buddhadharma editor Rod Meade Sperry introduces the Summer 2023 issue.

By Rod Meade Sperry

Welcome to the Summer 2023 Buddhadharma. The theme of this issue is “Power and the Practitioner.” Now, just what do we mean by that? Let’s define our terms.

Power of course has many aspects, many meanings. We might think, for example, of power dynamics: who has power over whom, how we respect and support one another, and how we don’t. That’s something Buddhadharma has commented upon in the past, and will again. It’s important. Here, though, the word denotes instead the power, and powers, that we uncover, experience, and cultivate through dharma practice. Whether they derive from within or without us, they are waiting for us to recognize, draw out, and nourish them.

The giant wave, the lightning bolt, the fierce twister, the ferocity of the dominant species guarding its kin — some power hits like a ton of bricks. But some is subtler. Think of the meditating Siddhartha Gautama as we see him on this issue’s cover. He’s steeled and clear-eyed as Mara’s horde surrounds him, tempting him to abandon his post under the bodhi tree.

The Buddha’s power comes, ultimately, from sticking to his practice. That practice leads to enlightenment — the power to end suffering. Some, of course, contend that practice itself is enlightenment. Either way, it’s good news for the rest of us, for even if we’ll never conjure the power of an electric storm, each one of us can always generate enough power to keep practicing.

Which brings us to the practitioner. That term, here, refers to You. Me. Us. The historical Buddha. And anyone who’s applied themself to seeking what the Buddha sought: liberation from grasping, aversion, and delusion. There is no one right way for us to seek this liberation. So in this issue, as with every issue of Buddhadharma, we’ve gathered a multiplicity of wise voices, all speaking to the numerous ways that their resolve and practice have powered them through times of pain, delight, and everything in between. May their insights help you to do the same. For that is our work!

Some Shifts for Buddhadharma

Summer 2023 marks some shifts for Buddhadharma. This issue and its related online exclusives (more on those in a bit) were put together by a new team. For starters, it truly humbles me to say that, after a baker’s dozen of years in various editorial roles at Lion’s Roar, I have become Buddhadharma’s editor, tasked with shepherding dharma teachings and other content for our readership of committed Buddhist practitioners. I say “truly humbled” because — like you, I suspect — I am quite aware of what a gem Buddhadharma is.

Thanks for that go in no small part to Koun Franz, who served as deputy editor and then as editor until the Winter 2022 issue, and helped me get oriented as I took on this issue. Koun, thank you — you’re as fine an editor and writer as you are a dharma teacher, and that’s saying a lot.

Also, with this issue, Mariana Restrepo, who joined Lion’s Roar last year to promote Latino Buddhist voices, adds “deputy editor of Buddhadharma” to her work with us. Born in Colombia and moving to the US at fourteen, Mariana is deeply committed to the dharma, having studied Sanskrit at a Tibetan monastery in Nepal, and earning a Master’s in Buddhist studies from Florida International University. She will be working not only on the magazine but on exclusive digital content, which we’ll be expanding.

To wit: beginning with this issue, digital excerpts of the books reviewed inside (see Buddhadharma on Books, p 105) are being provided on our website, courtesy of their publishers. The idea is that along with Joie Szu-Chiao Chen’s helpful summaries and assessments of key dharma books being offered this season, you can read a healthy sample of each book. Look for the Buddhadharma portal on LionsRoar.com — or better yet, download the Buddhadharma app and have the Buddhist news and exclusive Buddhadharma digital content that comes out over the life of each new issue delivered and waiting for you. This issue’s book excerpts are already online, and we thank all the publishers for providing them. Dharma publishing deserves everyone’s support.

One thing about Buddhadharma that isn’t changing — and I’m so thankful — is that its design is still lovingly curated by our inspired founding art director, Seth Levinson. Thank you, Seth, for all you’ve done to beautify this (and every other!) issue. And, as ever, I want to thank our editor-in-chief, Melvin McLeod, and all the staff who make each issue possible.

Lastly, I must thank you, the practitioner. This, as our front cover indicates, is your guide. Thank you for your practice — and your support. We aim to remain worthy of it.

Rod Meade Sperry. Photo by Megumi Yoshida, 2024

Rod Meade Sperry

Rod Meade Sperry is the editor of Buddhadharma, Lion’s Roar’s online source for committed Buddhists, and the book A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his partner and their tiny pup, Sid.