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Pema Chödrön: Use Obstacles as Teachers

Edward Espe Brown

on the Zen of Cooking

Even Colonel Sanders Is Meditating

More Peace,

Buddhist techniques to deal with diicult people


You Only Live Once?

The scientific case for reincarnation

From Hate to Love

An ex-neo-Nazi’s journey to Buddhism

Truth of Impermanence

Lessons from a wildfire

New r om



h e Rinzai Zen Way

A Guide to Practice

by Meido Moore

h e Sound of Cherry Blossoms

Zen Lessons from the Garden on Contemplative Design

by Martin Hakubai Mosko and Alxe Noden

Painting Peace

Art in a Time of Global Crisis

by Kazuaki Tanahashi

Rinzai, along with Soto, is one of the main schools of Japanese Zen, made famous by the great master-artist Hakuin Ekaku (1686–1768). This is the fi rst accessible introduction to a Zen philosophy from a strictly Rinzai perspective, and it will be invaluable to Rinzai students, as well as anyone who wants to understand the emph- ases of Rinzai Zen.

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Buddhism beyond Gender

Liberation from Attachment to Identity

by Rita M. Gross

Everyday Ayurveda Cooking for a Calm, Clear Mind

100 Simple Sativiv Recipes

by Kate O’Donnell

“A founding fi gure in the feminist study of religion and one of the few academics to speak from an insider’s perspective, Gross devoted most of her life to challenging the structures of patriarchy and oppression in the Buddhist tradition. Bud- dhism beyond Gender is Gross at her very best: clear, direct, insightful, and uncompromising.”

—José Ignacio Cabezón

$24.95 | Paperback

“Building on her achievement with The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook, O’Donnell turns her focus onto the modern mind, exhausted by overstimulation. This new cookbook lays out in tasty detail how a healthy diet can promote lucidity and how unwise food choices can compromise mental acuity.”

—Dr. Robert Svoboda

Ayurvedic physician and author of Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution

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Comfortable with Uncertainty

108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion

by Pema ChÖdrÖn

New Edition

Collecting some of the most powerful passages from Pema Chödrön’s beloved work, this compact handbook explores life-changing Buddhist concepts and practices that anyone can use to become more courageous, aware, and kindhearted. You will explore the benefi ts of meditation and mindfulness, letting go of fi xations, working with painful emotions, and much more.

$16.95 | Paperback

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  • 36 JOURNEY FROM HATE TO LOVE How did Arno Michaelis go from a neo-Nazi gang leader to a Buddhist and anti-violence activist? As Lindsay Kyte reports, it happened because the people he hated met him with love.

  • 42 DO YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE? What happens after you die? That used to be just a religious question, but science is starting to weigh in. Sam Littlefair looks at the evidence you’ve lived before.

  • 47 JUST MORE OF THE SAME Leading Buddhist teachers explain the concept of rebirth— and why it’s not the same as reincarnation.

  • 50 HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE (AND NOT BE ONE YOURSELF) It’s one of life’s biggest challenges. Seven Buddhists offer

wisdom and techniques to help you handle it. •

Look in the Empty Mirror, Karen Kissel Wegela Ego Is the Real Culprit, Norman Fischer

How to Hold Your Seat, Pema Chödrön

The Undefended Heart, Ray Buckner

10 Vows Not to Make Things Difficult,

Karen Maezen Miller Meeting Heart-to-Heart, Koshin Paley Ellison

Difficult People Are Suffering People, Mitchell Ratner

  • 60 EAT! EAT! Forced to overeat as a child, Sharon Suh finally learns for herself what is enough.

  • 64 LESSONS FROM A WILDFIRE Instead of futilely fighting loss, says Tibetan teacher Anam Thubten, let it be your invitation to freedom and spaciousness.

  • 68 DESTINATIONS OF DESIRE Travel isn’t always as “spiritual” as we hope. Andrew Weinstein offers realistic travel tips about some unreal destinations.






  • 13 FROM WHERE I SIT Even the Colonel Is Meditating Rod Meade Sperry


  • 13 Matthew Stinchcomb: Business as Unusual

    • 17 HEART & MIND Fear of a Hot Planet Lama Willa Miller

    • 21 ADVICE FOR DIFFICULT TIMES My Child Fears the Future Sylvia Boorstein

    • 23 THIS DHARMA LIFE Modern Monk Dad Daniel Polk

    • 27 SHARE YOUR WISDOM Do you believe in rebirth?

    • 29 HOW TO PRACTICE Dedicating Merit

  • 17 Lama Palden Drolma


  • Buddhism by the Numbers:

    The 3 Yanas FAQs: Buddha’s Bump,

    Passivity, Churches Who, What, Where:

    Pali Canon

    • 35 MEET A TEACHER Jules Shuzen Harris, Sensei


    • 11 EDITORIAL A Difficult Problem Melvin McLeod

    • 75 HOT OFF THE PRESS No Recipe: Cooking as Spiritual Practice by Edward Espé Brown

    • 78 REVIEWS



    • 88 JUST SO John Tarrant, Roshi

    Cover photo: Lasse Kristensen / Alamy Stock Photo


    VOLUME THREE, NUMBER 2 • Lion’s Roar (ISSN 2369-7997, USPS 009-651) is published bimonthly for $34 year USA, $44 Canada & $54 (US) International, by Lion’s Roar Foundation, 1790 30th St, Suite 280, Boulder, CO 80301 USA. Periodicals postage paid at Boulder, CO and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Lion’s Roar, PO Box 469095, Escondido, CA 92046-9095. Printed in U.S.A. © 2018 Lion’s Roar Foundation. All rights reserved. Canada Post Publication Mail Agreement #40018157. Canadian Postmaster: Send undeliverable copies to: 1660 Hollis St., Suite 701, Halifax, NS B3J 1V7 Canada.

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    Exploring the Mystic Heart of the World’s Religions

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    A Diicult Problem

    YOU MIGHT THINK that working with difficult people is just another of life’s routine problems. It’s about that pain-in-the- ass guy at work, that obnoxious relative, or that irritating habit your partner has. But when you think about it, dealing with difficult people— and not being one yourself—is one of the most important chal- lenges we face as human beings. Yes, as the Buddha pointed out, there is sickness, old age, and death. They’re big. But day to day, most of the suffering we experience comes from the difficulties other people cause us—and we cause them. The problem of dealing with difficult people, and not being one yourself, is both practical and profound. It is practical because of the hurt we human beings continuously inflict on each other. It is profound because it raises the deepest questions about who we are as human beings and how we relate to each other. Solve it, and we transform ourselves, the lives of others, and human society. A practical and profound problem requires a practical and profound solution. That combination is Buddhism’s speciality. Buddhism addresses only one thing—the very practical problem of suffering. But effective solutions to big problems like suffering have to go deep. They require real insight into our basic nature, how our confusion operates, and the reality of this world we experience. These are things Buddhists have been investigating for 2,600 years. The teachings in this issue address some of the practical issues modern psychology wrestles with—resilience, reactiv- ity, hurt, strong emotion, and why we act so unskillfully. But

    they will also help you realize profound truths about things like emptiness, buddhanature, compassion, and the nature of samsara. However, these teachings come with a couple of important conditions. Many of them involve working with your own mind, heart, and attitudes. They will help you deal with some- one who is routinely difficult. They will help you work skillfully with the frictions and difficulties that inevitably arise in our close relationships. But they are not intended to deal with people who are genu- inely dangerous or abusive. If someone in your life is harmful to you, you need to apply a whole different set of principles, which are not necessarily discussed in Buddhist tradition. Then it’s not about working with your own mind or taking the blame your- self. It’s about protecting yourself, calling out abuse, and getting the support you need. The other issue is that some Buddhist principles can be seen as blaming the victim. Traditional concepts like karma, or even the four noble truths, imply that we are the authors of our own suffering. In an ultimate sense, that could be true: if we were fully enlightened, we wouldn’t suffer, apparently. But in the relative, day-to-day world we inhabit, there is right and wrong and people do cause us suffering that isn’t our fault. Buddhism’s liberating insight that working with ourselves can have a tre- mendous positive effect on the lives of ourselves and others should not be taken to deny that reality.




    Even the Colonel Is Meditating

    Meditation is getting mainstream enough to attract the attention of big league advertisers. Good news or the beginning of the end? ROD MEADE SPERRY analyzes the latest videos from KFC.

    Meditation, you’ve come a long way, baby. I don’t mean just to be glib when I invoke the famous Virginia Slims ciga- rettes tagline, which debuted in 1968 to take advantage of the surging women’s movement. Because, really: when a global fast-food giant invests in thirty-five min- utes’ worth of videos that parlay tropes from meditation, Eastern religion, secular mindfulness, and the very counterculture

    ROD MEADE SPERRY is editorial director of special projects for Lion’s Roar and co- author, with Miguel Chen, of I Wanna Be Well:

    How a Punk Found Peace and You Can Too.

    that was birthing alongside Virginia Slims—all in order to hock chicken pot pies, of all things—just how unimagi- nable would, say, cigarette marketing that quotes the Buddha be?

    When breathing in, know: that’s real tobacco flavor! When breathing out, know: it’s smooth!

    Okay, I’m being at least a little face-

    tious. But the launch of KFC’s “Comfort Zone” YouTube videos—which depict Colonel Sanders reborn as a multiplicity of spinning, pot-pie-headed meditators leading us through a kaleidoscopic outer/ inner-space realm on a psychonautic

    quest for savory meat pastry—do make one wonder just how far things might go. The ads, which range from three- plus to about nine minutes long, are the work of Wieden + Kennedy, an agency renowned for its willingness to be weird. But these take things up a notch. Blend- ing highbrow and lowbrow, stoner humor—I think we now know at least one of the “11 herbs and spices” in the Colonel’s secret recipe—and philosophi- cal references, these videos are about as bizarre as advertising to the masses gets. That this kind of well-funded and brazen co-optation is coming at us from


    a mega-corporation (KFC is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, which also owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell), much less a prob- lematic one that serves animals en masse and has a dubious track record in animal welfare, isn’t in itself surprising. (Nor is it surprising that even the Dalai Lama has spoken out against KFC, when they tried to open shop in Tibet in the early 2000s.) There’s nothing new about this sort of thing. Thomas Frank’s brilliant book The Conquest of Cool documents how Madison Avenue, noting that the 1960s counterculture was only getting stronger, decided that it’d rather switch than fight—and started jam- ming copy about “joining the revolution” and “sticking it to the man” into every campaign they could, no matter how square. What is surprising is just how out-there the content here really is. And I use the word “content,” here intentionally, because, lo, these videos transcend mere advertising. Together, they compose a “system” of “ground-breaking personal meditation, mindfulness, and affirma- tion based on the incredible power of KFC’s signature pot pie,” through which “comfort and enlightenment can be yours today.” And all the appropriate—or appropri- ated—signifiers are present: we see the Colonel meditating and doing tai chi, we see finger cymbals and mandalas, and the chakra system retooled to relate specifically to pot-pie consumption. We hear the narrator’s soothing voice (which recalls for me a logy Alan Watts) say, more than once, “Namaste.” Sometimes, he gets things right, though this is likely by accident. “The chicken that accompanies those veg- etables,” he waxes about the pot pie’s ingredients, “is the result of a million- year journey toward your mouth.” This statement recalls the Zen meal chant that

    reminds us, “72 labors brought us this food; we should know how it comes to us.” But do we really want to know how this food comes to us? Probably not. In one video, the narrator counsels us that, after unwrapping our sporks, we should “take the extra plastic and throw it as far away from you as possible. Mother Earth will recycle it as future sporks.” (Did I mention that KFC isn’t exactly beloved for its environmental responsi- bility, either?) You can taste the stupidity. But then, the video turns into a lesson on duality and non-duality. Really. Kind of.

    And maybe a little too willing to give ol’ Don a pass. This time it was the Colonel’s turn. Now, I’m hardly about to rush out for a pot pie, but it wasn’t long before these videos found me laughing. Which makes me, while no bullseye, surely part of the intended target market. What’s more, by getting me laughing, they seduced me, for a moment, into forgiving KFC for its sins. Now, that’s good advertising. Funny, isn’t it, how often “good advertising” and “bad advertising” are the same thing? But that doesn’t mean all advertising is bad. Okay, yes, advertis- ing’s ubiquity and constancy is pretty much inescapable, unless you live in a monastery. (Hmm: that’s a pretty good sell-line for a monastery.) And that’s bad. But what I want to know is, given all that, when it comes to dharma, where do you draw the line? There are advertisements, of course, in this magazine, telling you about retreats and Buddhist centers and,

    Chicken pot pie or meditation


    which would you choose?

    yes, products, that you might

    And such hints of smartness, or the appearance of smartness, coupled with the absurd visuals and voiceover, make for an awful lot of fun—on the surface, at least. Adweek wrote in their coverage of these ads: “Remember when Don Draper had his epiphany at the meditation retreat? … The appropriation of medita- tion techniques for consumerist ends is very Draper-esque—Don’s spiritual awakening in Mad Men, of course, being little more than his discovering a new way into a better advertising pitch.” Oh yeah, I remember that well. It played like a moment from The Conquest of Cool come to life—just replace the rev- olution in the streets that corporations had been co-opting with the revolution of the mind on offer by Eastern Religion. As a Buddhist media-watcher, I was rapt.

    benefit from and otherwise not know about. I don’t think that’s bad. Even the magazine’s cover, it must be acknowledged, is a form of advertising. It’s designed to entice you to look inside. (And, hopefully, within.) These KFC videos: what are they designed to do? They are designed—beautifully, hilari- ously so—to subvert that idea of looking within. They will lead exactly no one to meditate, or do tai chi, or explore Hera- clitus or thermodynamics or any of the other concepts they namecheck. To this Buddhist media-watcher, they are simultaneously the best thing ever and the worst thing ever. (Another little lesson on duality and non-duality.) They are in themselves evidence that meditation, when it comes to mass-acceptance, has come a long way. But, baby, we still have a long way to go.



    Business as Unusual

    After a successful career at Etsy, MATTHEW STINCHCOMB is now connecting and supporting changemakers in New York’s Hudson Valley.

    “IF BUSINESS AS USUAL is destroy-

    ing the world,” Matthew Stinchcomb asks, “then how do we do business as unusual?” For ten years, Stinchcomb was “the marketing guy” at Etsy.com, the popular e-commerce website focusing on hand- made and vintage items. As the company went public, he convinced the board to allocate stocks to his brainchild: a new, separate organization that he envisioned as a progressive business school. It was called Etsy.org. But Stinchcomb eventually realized that what was being called for wasn’t a new kind of business education. “What was needed,” he says, “was working in a place to support the people who are doing the good work to regenerate that place. It was about reconnection to self, reconnection to neighbor, and reconnec- tion to nature.” The organization’s name was changed to The Good Work Institute and it became what it is today, a nonprofit organization that educates and creates a network of change-makers throughout the Hudson Valley of New York State and supports their collaborative efforts to regenerate their communities. The Good Work Institute isn’t a Bud- dhist organization, but it’s informed by Stinchcomb’s Buddhist practice. “Every time I think I’ve come up with some bright idea,” he says, “I realize it’s dharma.” Twice a year, the institute offers free, intensive fellowships to forty individuals. These fellowships provide a framework for deep self-inquiry and for developing the capacity to work collaboratively. The

    program takes people out of their com- fort zone, teaches them new skills, and fosters community. Now, the institute is in the process of creating The Greenhouse, which Stinch- comb describes as “an accelerator for public initiative.” It will offer a whole menu of support to grassroots projects such as a community bill of rights ballot initiative or a food waste reduction strat- egy. Many of the projects will come out of the fellowships. The Good Work Institute is focused on the Hudson Valley, but the vision is bigger. Stinchcomb and his team aim to share their experiences and techniques with anyone else who wants to try similar things in their own communities. “We’re building a model that can be shared and

    replicated. Place by place we’re going to build a different future,” he says. “Once we decided to just focus on one place and go deep in that place, everything clicked. All of a sudden, it could become that much richer. We can build on top of what we’re doing.” Doing good work, Stinchcomb says, “is about recognizing our interdependence with all people, places, and living beings and working from that place.” Good work is broader than right livelihood. It’s about the whole eightfold path, our whole lives. “Our work isn’t just about the job that we do,” Stinchcomb concludes. “It’s also the work that we do as parents, as board members, as volunteers. Our work in the world is what we do to shape the world.”

    Tell us about a bodhisattva you know at themoment@lionsroar.com



    • I

    Tour includes retreat and dialogue with Western teachers and Bhutanese lamas, monks, and scholars, in a sacred valley monastery in western Bhutan.




    With temperatures rising and ice melting, the average global sea level has risen between four and eight inches in the past hundred years.


    Fear of a Hot Planet

    WILLA MILLER offers five Buddhist practices for facing the truth of our warming planet and taking action.


    Sea levels rising. Seasons marked by superstorms, flooding, drought, and wildfires. Homes flattened. Lives lost. With the destruction and chaos of cli- mate change comes a wider acceptance of the scientific reality and the motivation to contribute to solutions. But destruc- tion also brings despair, fear, and grief. Spiritual practices aren’t alternatives to swift, wise action, but they can contribute to resilience and transformation. They’re complementary disciplines to education and activism. Here are five contemplative practices to help us move from despera- tion to sustainable engagement.

    LAMA WILLA MILLER is the founder and spiritual director of Natural Dharma Fellow- ship in Boston and its retreat center, Wonder- well Mountain Refuge in New Hampshire.

    1. Find a Grounding in Ethics

    Climate change isn’t just a matter of what we can do. It’s a matter of what we should do. The Buddha emphasized ethics, sila, as a fundamental training for his monks. His monastic code of ethics was constructed around the idea of ahimsa, or non-violence, and that ethical actions are those arising from a commitment to non-harm, gentle- ness, and simplicity. If we extend sila to our relationship with nature, then non-harm, gentleness, and simplicity become the ground for change-making. Later Buddhist traditions developed rules of conduct oriented toward com- passion, such as the Bodhisattva precepts. These precepts extend from the idea that bodhicitta, wise compassion, is the ground of ethical action and speech. We too can ground our social engagement

    in bodhicitta. We can make our activism not about what we’re working against, but what we’re working for. Climate change is happening because of what we’ve valued and how we’ve con- ceived of our identity on this planet. A commitment to industry and growth has been among our dominant cultural val- ues. If, however, we place our relationship to the Earth squarely among our deepest values, we’re more likely to remain sensi- tive to ecological issues—not out of obli- gation, but out of genuine commitment.

    2. Get Comfortable with Uncertainty

    We don’t know for certain what will hap- pen as the Earth warms, and that uncer- tainty can feel deeply unsettling. The Buddha’s teachings present uncer- tainty as a source of liberation. He taught that nothing is certain, because nothing



    transcends impermanence. To encourage his monastics to face their mortality, the Buddha sent them to meditate in charnel grounds where they could witness decay- ing corpses. He wasn’t trying to torture his disciples, but rather free them. While awareness of our mortality stirs our deepest fears, it also opens us to the truth that nothing is certain. There’s good reason to embrace the uncertainty of climate change. If we fear uncertainty, we’re more likely to avoid thinking about climate change. In fact, our worst enemy isn’t climate denial, but rather a subtle, subconscious rejection of climate change, based on our fear of the unknown. If we embrace the truth of uncertainty, we develop the courage to stay open and take action.

    3. Work with Emotions

    Anger often fuels activism; however, it’s a poor long-term motivator, as it eventu- ally results in burnout. In contrast, love

    and compassion are motivators that drive effective and sustainable action. But how do we get from anger to compassion? Vajrayana Buddhism teaches that the states we most wish to avoid are the key to our freedom. Instead of erasing emo- tions, we can metabolize them and trans- form them into supple responsiveness. When anger is heavily fixated on an object, it becomes isolating, contracted, and draining. But when we take respon- sibility for our own anger, we can find its upside. Anger isn’t always reprehensible. It can be a protective energy, a healthy response to that which threatens what we love. That insight itself can liberate reactive anger into its deeper nature—a wise resolve to act with courage in the interest of love. In contemplative practice, anger can inspire empathy. We discover that uncomfortable states, while they belong to us, aren’t ours alone. Others also feel anger, including the people we have other-ed. When we recognize that this

    is how so many others feel, we can com- mune with others. We redirect our atten- tion from the story stimulating anger to our empathy for all those impacted by climate change—even the deniers. By redirecting our focus from a polarizing narrative to a uniting one, we build a more sustainable platform for action.

    4. Access New Wisdom

    In discussions about climate change, we primarily access one way of knowing— through the intellect. This conceptual approach is critically important—we need to know what’s happening and why—however, our response will be more powerful if we also access other ways of knowing. Two alternative ways of knowing that Buddhist practice relies on are bodily wisdom and non-conceptual wisdom. The closer we come to the body, the closer we draw to the truth of our own wildness. This connects us to the plan- etary wildness that we aspire to protect.

    Scientists predict that climate change will double the frequency of extreme droughts and make them last six times as long.

    While the mind is tugged into the past and future, the body is always fully pres- ent. To access the body’s wisdom, we only need to notice the breath. The body reminds us that our presence is our most powerful resource. Buddhist meditation introduces us to life beyond the conceptual mind. Human experience isn’t just mental content. There’s more to the mental-emotional life than what we think and believe. There’s a non-conceptual space in which content arises. This space is naked awareness— our mind simply experiencing, prior to forming ideas about our experiences. As we begin to identify with non-con- ceptual space, the illusion of separateness is perforated. This illusion is a root cause of the crisis we’re in. When we’re caught up in this illusion, it becomes okay that my consumption happens at your expense. If we’re to live sustainably, we need to rec- ognize the reality that we’re all intimately connected. Meditation leads us there.

    5. Find Community

    In order to gracefully lean into our envi- ronmental challenges, community is critical. Community also lays the founda- tion for spiritual life. The Buddha’s attendant Ananda once inquired, “Surely the sangha [spiritual community] is half of the holy life?” “No, Ananda,” the Buddha answered. “The sangha is the whole of the holy life.” There’s a growing community of people who seek both spiritual develop- ment and activism. If you’re one of those people, you need not despair. Your people are out there. It’s important that activists and con- templatives work together because we benefit from an exchange of technolo- gies. While I’ve highlighted five spiritual techniques to help contemplate climate change, activists have other tools that can assist spiritual communities to take action.




    My Child Fears the Future

    SYLVIA BOORSTEIN on how to give our children— and ourselves—hope in a worrying time.

    Trainings & Retreats in Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Question: I grew up under the shadow of nuclear war. Today, my children fear for the future of the world because of climate change and Donald Trump—and nuclear war too! While I know that Buddhists are supposed to transcend hope and fear, I don’t think it’s good for children to grow with a feeling of hopelessness and impend- ing doom. How can I give them hope for the future when it looks pretty bleak?

    Answer: Even a small moment of clarity in a mind filled with confusing, afflictive energies is like a break in the clouds that allows light to shine in. Find some hope yourself and then you can inspire it in your children. Here’s an example. I was waiting for the red light to change, my foot on the brake and my mind churning with anger, dismay, and despair. I had been reading the distress- ing morning news and watching the TV commentators. I was scheduled to teach that morning about cultivating compas- sion in a crazy world, but it felt like I’d just be preaching to the choir. My faith in fundamental kindness was being tested. It was raining as I waited at the light.

    The older man who works as the traffic guard was wearing a bright yellow rain slicker and a matching hood with a visor. He had a big red stop sign in one hand and an umbrella in the other. He held the umbrella over the heads of groups of two or three children as he walked them across the busy street, all the while holding the stop sign aloft so he could regulate traffic. Something about the exquisite, unrushed, 100 percent attention that he seemed to give his charges captivated my attention, and I loved him. My mind cleared. In recognizing goodness in the world, I remembered that fear clouds the mind and keeps it from see- ing possible solutions. “The world is going to be all right,” I told my class at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. “Think of it this way. Imagine the world surrounded by a rain of troubles. We each only need umbrellas and stop signs and the intent to protect. We don’t need to do the whole job ourselves.”

    S Y LVIA B O O RSTE I N is a psychologist and leading teacher of Insight Meditation. Her many bestselling books include Happiness Is an Inside Job.

    Send your question to themoment@lionsroar.com

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    Modern Monk Dad

    In his fantasies, DANIEL POLK lives in a monastery. In real life he brings a bit of the monastery into his home, car, and office.







    • I LIVE IN A CITY, I work, I’m mar- ried, I have two kids—but I want to be a Buddhist monk. I’ve let go of what I can: I’ve stopped watching television.

    • I don’t drink alcohol, rarely eat meat,

    and avoid processed sugar. Google News? Gone. Updates from my fourth- grade teacher on Facebook? Out there

    DANIEL POLK is a father, husband, and meditator who is slowly writing a memoir about leaving behind the “habit mind” of materialism, consumption, and self-promotion.

    somewhere floating around in the web universe. My ego pontificating on Twit- ter? Stuffed back into my brain. I’ve been meditating for six years, have been

    on a handful of retreats, and would love to do many more. But I can’t, not without letting go of everything, like Siddhartha. What does my day look like? I wake up without an alarm between three and four a.m. to pee and meditate. I sit in bed next to my wife in still silence, breathe for twenty minutes, then go


    back to sleep. I get up a couple hours later and meditate again for another twenty minutes. As the sun’s light finds its way into our kitchen, I make my

    daughter’s lunch, cutting the carrots and apples one by one. I should eat my organic flax cereal without reading, but

    • I don’t. This is my time to be with A

    Buddhist’s Bible by Dwight Goddard, digesting the truth of suffering while chomping on flakes drenched in coco- nut milk. I drive my son to school and listen intently to his reasons for why Pluto is his favorite planet. I tell him Earth is my favorite because he lives there. My habit mind used to rule the car. I’d get in, plug in my phone, and turn on the radio— NPR, sports talk, the Ramones—and the sound would take over, my brain bombarded by Afghanistan, NBA salaries, lyrics. I wanna be sedated. At red lights, I’d send a furtive text message to my wife about a kid drop-off or dinner or what- ever else. The distractions didn’t end, but I’ve stopped the noise. Now I just sit, back out of the driveway, drive. So, the commute is totally different. I see faces, people in sleeping bags on sidewalks, kids laughing and walking to school, dozens of little glowing rectangles of cellphones cradled in pedestrians’ hands, the grey sky above. At intersections, I meditate, inhaling and exhaling—the red lights acting like little mechanical bodhisattvas to pause me, keep me awake, keep me alive. Work is busy, but I do my best to pause before speaking, to look into the eyes of each person. I meditate at my desk for a few minutes each day. The meditation makes meetings slow down,

    reminds me of who I am, and of the body

    • I inhabit. I don’t put email on my phone. Walking is for walking, not glancing

    down at a screen. Early evening, I arrive home, make the phone disappear, and bring pres- ence to my family. At dinner, everyone shares one thing about their day. I listen.


    Afterward, I wash dishes and clean the counters—my earbuds in to block out the noise of my kids hyped up on des- sert. I used to listen to Meat Is Murder, Morrissey’s voice looping through my head while the sponge wiped away pasta sauce. Now recordings of Sylvia Boor- stein and Tara Brach guide me at the sink, their dharma talks emphasizing the value of responding instead of reacting. One day I will just breathe—without their electronic words—holding each plate, being there each second, but I’m not there yet. Wednesday is my sangha night, the evening I really get to pretend to be a monk. I arrive at the church where we rent space, take my shoes off, and sometimes help move the furniture. Our sangha is small, never more than eight people. We sit in a circle. There is meditation, which is an hour of sit- ting and walking, followed by reading Thich Nhat Hahn’s teachings together. Each person reads two pages slowly, giving voice to the dharma. One week we read the five mindfulness trainings, another evening, we read about Thay’s time as a novice monk. The last thirty minutes of the night we practice lis- tening deeply as members share their thoughts on the reading or speak about their practice. We then bow to the teachings, to the sangha, to each other, and to the world. At nine p.m., I walk the two blocks back home, enter quietly, and say good- night to my children. Most nights I medi- tate for ten minutes in my son’s room, keeping him company while he settles into slumber. Later, if my wife is watch- ing television in the bedroom, I read Buddhist-related memoirs: The Snow Leopard, Cave in the Snow, Long Quiet Highway. I imagine trekking through Tibet, meditating in a tent, in a cave, in a Minnesota Zen Center. I wait until sleep finds me. By 10:30 p.m., my day is usually complete—a day in the life of a modern dad monk.



    Do you believe in rebirth?

    Though I’m devout Christian, my answer is yes. The beauty of nature and life is cyclical. Why wouldn’t we die to be reborn? I used to question my belief, but I looked up “resurrec- tion” and “rebirth” and found that the words are similar enough that I no longer question it.

    —Robin Whitley, Beech Mountain, North Carolina

    While rebirth and past lives are referred to many times in the Pali canon, I’ve never understood what’s reborn. If it’s the person and personality, wouldn’t this contradict Buddhism’s teaching of anatta, not-self? All cultures and religious traditions have a notion of an afterlife which serves to console the dying. If a lie makes someone less fear- ful, I’m not against it. But as a materialist, I believe that when my body-brain dies, my self lives on only in the memories of my friends. I like poet Mary Oli- ver’s belief that we have only “one wild and precious life.”

    —Will Yaryan, Bangkok, Thailand

    I’ve had an unshakable belief in rebirth since before I learned the word in grade school. I believe I was born into this life having practiced Buddhism in other lives, and I feel deeply grateful to be able to pick up my studies again.

    —Sue-Marie Casagrande, Poulsbo, Washington

    With a background in natural history, the common dynamics I see are cycles. Life just keeps going one way or another. This happens because of that—that happens because of this. So why not rebirth? What comes around goes

    around seems far more logical than to end up

    in one place



    —Bill Krumbein, Santa Rosa, California

    I have no proofs for or against rebirth. That said, the idea that there’s a carryover of karmic seeds, which determine a person’s life experiences, can be applied in harmful ways. The implication is that if your life is full of misfortune and misery, you’ve no one but yourself to blame. Those who suffer shouldn’t be made to feel they’re being punished for something that happened in a past they can’t remember.

    —Annette Seidenglanz, Burlington, Vermont

    My oldest son, who was very non-verbal as a young child, told me in detail about a previ- ous death in which he fell while wearing red shoes. He also talked about watching a mur- der “from above.” He was about four years old at the time. The murder was a real case, but there was no way he could have known about it without a past life connection.

    —Kim Breimeier, Minnesota

    I’ve watched as my children grew up, my atti- tudes changed, my life entered new phases, new careers, and in new countries. Rebirth? Every second I’m born again, every day, every year. If it happens like this, it can happen after this form of “me” is long gone.

    —José M. Tirado, Hafnarfjorður, Iceland

    When we die, we’re carried on into the future by those we’ve touched, and those people keep sharing with more people. Thus, what you’ve left behind is shared forever. In that way we never die.

    —Barbie Weppler, Calgary, Alberta

    Karma has been called the twin doctrine of hope and responsibility. It makes sense to me that we return to clean up our own messes and to continue to love old connections and new. Rebirth as a mechanism for continuity seems neces- sary. I don’t expect to be “me” again, but whatever “I” picks up the thread will carry hopes and responsibilities onward.

    —Katherine Elswick, Cave Creek, Arizona

    Without a faith in rebirth, Buddhism is nothing but a quaint psychology. The whole point of a Buddhist path is to escape the chains of rebirth. The longer I practice, the more clearly I’m able to see the cycle I’d like to escape. Belief in rebirth doesn’t seem to be a foundation for practice, but rather its flowering.

    —Linda J. Daly, Norristown, Pennsylvania

    What makes you a Buddhist? Send your answer, photo, and location to themoment@lionsroar.com

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    Dedicating Merit

    When we dedicate our meditation to others, says LAMA PALDEN DROLMA, we make our practice more open and beneficial.


    in the Vajrayana Buddhist path conclude with dedicating the benefit of our prac- tice to relieving the suffering of sentient beings and helping them awaken. The English word “merit” is defined as being or doing something that is worthy and creates value. It is said that when we meditate or engage in another form of spiritual practice, such as yoga, chanting, praying, or singing songs of realization, we are accumulating merit. Dedicating this value—this wholesomeness—to all

    LAMA PALDEN DROLMA, one of the first

    Western female lamas, is founder of the Sukha- siddhi Foundation, which offers Buddhist medi- tation and study in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    sentient beings expands our meditation beyond ourselves. I had been studying and meditat- ing in various traditions for some years when, at age twenty-five, I met my pri- mary teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, a Tibetan Vajrayana master. When he taught me to dedicate the merit at the end of a session, I immediately noticed a big shift in my meditation. It felt like my whole practice opened up and became more effortless. It wasn’t just about me any longer. Dedicat- ing the merit to others freed my practice to include all beings, and this eased the sense of tightness and contraction in my meditation. It was a relief. When we include humans, animals, and any and all sentient beings—maybe

    even alien life forms—in our practice, our minds connect with trillions of beings. This expands our conscious- ness to the unbound vastness. From our normal, limited perspective, we experi- ence ourselves and others as separate. In reality, this is not the case, because we are interdependent. When we dedi- cate the merit of our meditation to all beings, we are in alignment with the truth of what is, and our self-concept expands, even if we don’t immediately notice it. In dedicating our meditation to ease the suffering of all beings, we engage in an act of radical imagination. Our radi- cal imagining is that all beings are free, at peace, and awakened. Imagining this

    When we meditate, things change inside us. One way or another, Zen is the thing that changes everything. Sometimes we have big shifts and pretty much everything changes; sometimes we have lots of little shifts.

    John Tarrant

    When you are looking for awakening, you don’t know what you’re looking for. People think "That's not for me, I couldn't have that." But it's not an achievement or something to grab. if you knew what it was, you’d already have it. So it's more like something coming into consciousness that you've noticed for a long time but not really taken account of. So the likelihood is that it is for you and it's waiting just under the surface. Awakening comes as a surprise, and it also comes as an old friend, someone you’ve always known.







    stretches our minds and creates the pos- sibility for it to actually happen, because if we cannot imagine something, it’s nearly impossible to actualize it. In this radical imagining, our vision includes everyone equally in our love. This develops our generosity, loving- kindness, and commitment to the equal- ity of beings. This kind of beneficence does not condone anyone’s destructive actions. Rather it looks toward the pos- sibility of liberating and transforming the ignorance that drives people’s destructive actions. Dedicating the merit of our medita- tion or spiritual practice is closely related to setting an intention at the beginning of our practice. This cultivates what is called bodhichitta, or awakened mind. So we enter into meditation with the intention to benefit all sentient beings. After that, we engage in the practice, and then, when we’re done, we make our dedication. In the same way that making a dedication enhances and empowers our spiritual practice, it can empower all our actions in daily life. The merit accrued from any action—even if it is just wash- ing the dishes or walking to work—can be dedicated to the benefit of all beings. That means we can make a dedication at the conclusion of a spiritual practice, or at the end of our day, after a meal, or at the conclusion of any activity.

    There are many different formulas for dedication. You can also create a dedica- tion in your own words. Some of the most common are:



    Through this goodness may awak- ening spontaneously arise in our streams of being. May all obscura- tions and distortions fall away. May all beings be liberated from suffering, and the stormy waves of birth, sick- ness, old age, and death.

    By this merit may all attain omni- science. May it defeat the enemy, wrong-doing. From the stormy waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death, from the ocean of samsara, may I free all beings.

    Sometimes a dedication is done simply to the vast ultimate expanse, or what is called the dharmadhatu in Sanskrit. Tulku Urgyen, one of the great- est Dzogchen masters of the twentieth century, described the dharmadhatu as “the space within which all phenomena manifest, abide, and dissolve back into.” An example of this dedication is:

    For the benefit of beings without exception, I dedicate without any reticence whatsoever all the merit accrued through virtuous acts, to the incomparable expanse of totality.

    When we conclude our practice— or any other positive activity—by dedicating to others the merit we have developed, we grow in realization of the nondual nature of reality and our capacity to benefit the whole. Para- doxically, in dedicating the merit of our meditation to the benefit of all beings, we accrue further benefit for ourselves, helping us get closer to realizing the truth of what is.



    Onsite & Online from Ann Arbor, MI July 9 - 13, 2018



    with Jewel Heart Guest Teachers Onsite & Online Fall 2018


    On-demand access to a vast collection of Tibetan Buddhist teachings by Gelek Rimpoche and others

    Available online at jewelheart.org/digital-dharma







    We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation.

    VAJRAYANA BUDDHISM divides the journey to enlightenment into three major stages. These are called yanas, which is usually translated as “vehicles” that carry you along the path to enlightenment. Although each yana lays the spiritual ground for the next, they are not necessarily taught or practiced in sequence.

    • 1. The Yana of Individual Liberation

    We start by working on ourselves. This yana focuses on foundational teachings such as the four noble truths and the three marks of existence, and the practices of mind- fulness and awareness. The fruition is individual salvation:

    one is freed from the illusion of a fixed and independent self and the suffering it causes oneself and others.

    • 2. The Bodhisattva Yana of Wisdom and Compassion

    We have cut through attachment to personal ego but con- tinue to hold onto the phenomenal world. We cut through that clinging with compassion practices and teachings on emptiness. The fruition of this yana is that we become a bodhisattva: we are free of clinging to both self and others and have boundless compassion for all beings.

    • 3. The Tantric Yana of Indestructible Wakefulness

    This yana takes “the fruition as the path,” because ever- present enlightenment is the starting point as well as the goal. It is also called “the path of skillful means,” because it teaches many esoteric methods to transmute negativity and reveal our true nature as stainless and free. In this yana, there is strong emphasis on the role of guru as the teacher and example of enlightenment. Buddhahood is said to be achievable in one lifetime using these methods.

    When I see statues and pictures of the Buddha, he often has a bump or a spire on the

    top of his head. What does that represent?

    Generally, paintings and statues of the Buddha (and other great Buddhist figures) are not meant to represent a historical figure literally, as the statue of a president or general might. They are intended to symbolize the spirit of the Buddha—his realization and attainment as an ideal to be sought after—and often include features similar to the halos and other signs of spiritual power seen in Christian iconography.

    The protuberance at the top of the Buddha’s head is known as the ushni- sha, literally “turban.” This is one of the traditional thirty-two marks of the physical body of a buddha (some of which, if taken literally, would make him look pretty monstrous). The ushnisha appears as round, conical, pointed, or flamelike, depending on the sculptural tradition. Most commentators see it is a kind of crown, depicting regalness and the supreme power of the Buddha’s enlightenment. When it’s a flame, it is said to represent spiritual energy. As for the historical Buddha, as far as we can determine he had a round, shaven, and quite normal head.



    I often hear people say that Buddhist meditation will make you passive and uninterested in changing the world. Is there any truth in that?

    From its earliest days, the Buddhist tradition has emphasized quiet time removed from the attachments and temptations of everyday life. Meditation retreats, sometimes lasting years, have long been an important part of the Buddhist path, and the very practice of meditation creates time in which one is working with one’s mind and is not actively engaged in the world. For these reasons, Buddhism has long been branded as a kind of “quietist” religion that does not concern itself with worldly affairs. That is inaccurate. Buddhists, including monastics, have been deeply involved in society histori- cally, and even more so today. Since the goal of Buddhism is to lessen suffer- ing for oneself and others, many contemporary Buddhists believe their vows require them to address the social, political, and economic causes of suffering. Meditation and retreat are what are called skillful means: they equip us to lessen suffering for ourselves and others, but they are not a goal in themselves.

    What’s the di erence between a Buddhist church, temple, and center?

    These differences usually reflect the par- ticular Buddhist community’s cultural traditions, histories, and emphases. For example, when Japanese immigrants started arriving in the western United States in the nineteenth century, they established temples where they could prac- tice Shin Buddhism, a common Japanese sect. Eventually, to help them gain accep- tance in American society, they established the Buddhist Churches of America, with both physical and hierarchical structures similar to Christian churches. Buddhists of Chinese and South Asian background often use the word “temple.” These traditionally have a strong community and pastoral aspect, with members observing a calendar of celebrations and relying on the temple and priesthood for rites of passage such as weddings and funerals. Finally, Western “converts” who were not born into Buddhism have established many “meditation centers.” The message is that meditation practice programs and retreats are the focal point, although that is starting to shift as convert Buddhists increasingly recognize the importance of com- munity and pastoral care.

    Tell us what you’d like to know about Buddhism and meditation at themoment@lionsroar.com



    THE PALI CANON is the body of scriptures central to the Theravada school of Buddhism. It contains the largest collection of teachings (suttas) attributed to the historical Buddha, as well as sections on rules for monastics and Buddhist philosophy.

    The Buddha didn’t write his teachings down, nor did his disciples. It’s said that shortly after his death, five hundred of his disciples gathered for what was known as the First Council. Those particularly gifted at memorization recited what they remembered of his teachings and the others in attendance committed them to memory.

    As tradition has it, the Buddha’s teachings were finally written down in Sri Lanka at the end of the first century BCE, some five hundred years after his death. The original body of teachings apparently transcribed in Sri Lanka no longer exists. The extant record we know today as the Pali Canon began about 800 CE.

    It’s said that the Buddha wanted his teachings pre- sented in vernacular language, rather than the more formal Sanskrit of the educated classes. The language of the original texts was a hybrid of several ancient Prakrit dialects that came to be called Pali, a word that actually means “text.” Although it’s not a language the Buddha spoke, it’s closely related.

    The Pali Canon is often referred to as the Tripitaka—the “three baskets”—because it has three sections. The Vinaya Pitaka lists the rules for monastics; the Sutta Pitaka contains the discourses of the Buddha and his principal disciples, plus certain commentaries and works in verse; the Abhidharma Pitaka, also known as the “systematic philosophy” basket, details Buddhist doctrines, especially about the nature of mind.



    Jules Shuzen Harris Sensei

    IN 1939, I WAS B ORN outside of Philadelphia in Chester, Pennsyl- vania, which for lack of a better word, was an “impoverished” area. My father was a street hustler and one thing he said to me was, “Watch what people do—not what they say.” After graduating from high school, I was a jazz trumpet player and played in many clubs. Then in the late fifties, I joined Temple #10 of the Nation of Islam and met Malcolm X. My journey through Islam was short-lived, as I got kicked out for trying to teach members yoga and meditation. I went on to get a master’s degree in social work and psychology at New York University and a doctorate in education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Maezumi Roshi was my first contact with a Zen teacher, and during an interview with him I felt like I was coming home. I wanted to be like him—to feel his serenity and to understand what he understood. Maezumi Roshi directed me to study with John Daido Loori. I was only a few years into the study of Zen when I started study- ing Iaido, a Japanese art form of drawing and cutting with a samurai sword. Now I hold a fourth-degree black belt in Iaido as well as a black belt in Kendo, a Japanese martial art using bamboo swords. I’ve opened two sword schools—one in Albany and one in Salt Lake City. In 2004, I founded Soji Zen Center in suburban Philadelphia to help bring Zen to new places as well as to communities of color. In 2007, I received dharma transmission from Pat Enkyo O’Hara.

    What is your current or next project?

    I’m working on a book about the integration of mind mapping as a therapeutic strategy and Buddhist practice.

    What is your practice tradition?

    Zen (Soto and Rinzai).

    Favorite meditation practice?


    Recommended dharma books?

    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, Appreciate Your Life by Maezumi Roshi, and The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau.

    Your favorite virtue?


    What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

    Shoveling manure at a mushroom farm.

    If not yourself, who would you be?


    Name three of your heroes.

    Maezumi Roshi, Enkyo Roshi, and Marshall Davis, the celebrated African-American journalist, poet, activist, and businessman, who introduced me to a spiritual path.

    Your favorite author?

    Ernest Hemingway. I love For Whom the Bell Tolls.

    Your favorite musician or group?

    John Coltrane.

    Your favorite current TV show?

    The Beat with Ari Melber.

    What’s for dinner?


    A motto that represents you?

    A Samurai maxim: “Knowing and action are the same thing.”

    Guilty pleasure?

    Chocolate, candy, and ice cream.


    From Hate to Love

    An ex-neo-Nazi’s journey to Buddhism

    Arno Michaelis founded a white supremacist gang and was

    frontman for a white-power metal band. Yet, as he tells

    LINDSAY KYTE, his ideology could not hold up when those

    he hated met him with love.

    F ROM THE OUTSIDE, Arno Michaelis’ 1970s childhood was idyllic—two

    parents still married, a nice house with a big yard in a middle-class Milwaukee

    neighborhood, lots of love and positive affirmation. Yet inside his home, his

    father’s drinking led to his mother’s misery, and, caught in the turmoil of

    emotional violence, Michaelis developed his own addiction—to adrenaline.

    A constant thrill-seeker, Michaelis craved chaos, and created it through lashing out and hurting others. “I started out bullying on the school bus,” says Michaelis. “I got thrills from other kids fearing me. I would fight in the schoolyard and on the streets.” By middle school, Michaelis was ramping up his antisocial behavior to get an even big- ger rush, moving to vandalism and breaking and entering. By age sixteen, Michaelis was an alcoholic himself. Music had always been Michaelis’ passion and a refuge from his parents’ fighting. He started with the Beatles and AC/DC and then moved into punk, with The Clash, Dead Kennedys, and Fear providing an outlet for his aggression. He got an even bigger hit of musical adrenaline when he found music that gave a context to his violence— white power skinhead music.

    “I loved punk because it pissed people off,” Michaelis says. “And if you think a mohawk pisses people off, try a swastika. Swastikas really piss people off.” Michaelis and his friends decided to start not only a white power skinhead band, but also a white power skinhead gang. Michaelis’ addictive personality became consumed with the white supremacy movement. He was an avid reader of myth- ology and fantasy, and the movement gave Michaelis’ violence a heroic narrative—he fancied himself someone who was sav- ing the white race from oppression. “It was about fighting for your people and National Socialism. Anybody who didn’t like it was an enemy,” he says. “It was all very romantic and it really repulsed civil society, which also gave me a kick.” Michaelis saw himself as a warrior, which to him meant “being someone who would perpetrate violence at the drop of a hat. That’s what I embodied as a white power skinhead.”

    “I loved punk because it pissed people

    o . And if you think a mohawk pisses

    people o , try a swastika.”

    MICHAELIS BECAME a powerful figure in the white power skinhead movement over the next seven years. He was a founder of the Northern Hammerskins, a regional branch of the largest racist skinhead organization in the world, Hammer- skin Nation. He was the lead singer of Centurion, a white power metal band that sold over twenty thousand CDs. His whole identity was centered around the color of his skin and his race. “As we radiated hate and violence into the world, the world handed it back to us,” he says, “often in multiples of the inten- sity. But rather than taking responsibility for the fact that we were the ones causing the hostility, we chose to see that as valid- ation for our beliefs.” As they banded together against society, often saving each other’s lives in street fights, gang members felt a sense of belonging and camaraderie they weren’t finding elsewhere. Yet there was also fighting within the group. “It was a wolf-pack mentality,” Michaelis says. “Guys in leadership positions were constantly under threat from younger guys trying to take over. We had to fight to maintain our pos- ition at the top. It was constant violence, super dysfunctional, and codependent.” Women in the gang were usually in submis- sive roles—their place was taking care of the kids to repopulate the world with white people. Within a few months of starting the Northern Hammerskins,

    Michaelis’ best friend went to prison for a shooting. A couple of years later, another close friend was killed in a street fight. “Rather than take those things as a wake-up call, we just spun them to suit our narrative and cognitive dissonance,” he says. Music and literature that did not support white supremacist ideology was forbidden, isolating gang members from critical analysis of their actions. The gang picked fights with those of a different skin color or sexual orientation. However, their favorite targets were white people they deemed “race traitors”—especially anti-racist skinheads, called “baldies,” whom they would drive hours to Chicago or Minneapolis to fight. “That was how much we needed that violent opposition to validate what we were doing,” Michaelis says. In a racially-divided city like Milwaukee, the gang’s prime demographic for new recruits was white kids from schools that were predominantly Black and Latino, where they got beaten up because they were white. “That was ripe pickings for us to swoop in and place our narrative on this situation to explain it, and then offer protection and power if they joined us,” Michaelis says. “I practiced violence until it was natural, and the violence became who I was,” he reflects. “I needed it like fuel, and I would beat other human beings to the point of hospitalization to get that hit of adrenaline.” Yet amid the chaos and bloodshed, something within Michae- lis was glimpsing something that didn’t fit his violent narrative— the kindness and compassion of people he considered enemies.


    at McDonald’s could see the potential for good in the tat- too-covered neo-Nazi standing in front of her. Spotting the swastika tattoo on Michaelis’ middle finger, she looked at him and said, “I know you’re a better person than that. That’s not who you are.” Michaelis ran out of there and never went back. “The pur- pose of that tattoo was to flip my middle finger with the swas- tika at people so they’d be frozen like a deer in the headlights,” he says. “But when she met my hate with such compassion, I couldn’t fight back.” This was one of many instances in which Michaelis’ Jew- ish boss, lesbian supervisor, or Black and Latino coworkers treated him with kindness and compassion when he least deserved it, even offering him sandwiches after he spoke with hate. His parents never gave up on him, even though Michaelis says he put them through hell. Maintaining his hate in the face of so many who refused to lower themselves to his level began to exhaust him.

    Michaelis’ schoolyard bullying escalated to feed his need for adrenaline. Alcoholism, vandalism, violence, and punk music led to a leadership position in the neo-Nazi movement.

    “But I didn’t have the courage to answer that inner voice ask- ing why I was doing this,” he remembers. “Even alcohol couldn’t distance me from the fact that I was beginning to be disgusted by my own behavior.” While none of those incidents changed Michaelis on the spot, he says they all planted seeds that high- lighted how wrong his thinking was.

    MICHAELIS HAD A CHILD because he wanted to bring more white people into the world. But in the end, it was because of his daughter that Michaelis left hate groups, and because of her that he found Buddhism. He was in his early twenties when his daughter was born. But when he saw a second friend murdered in a street fight, and lost count of how many friends in the white power movement had been incarcerated, he began to wonder if death or prison would take him away from her. The final realization came when he saw his daughter playing with children of different races at daycare. “It struck me that they were all children—not Black children or white children, but the sons and daughters of mothers and fathers,” he writes in his memoir, My Life After Hate.

    “I thought of all the people I had hurt, whether with my own hands or by lighting some psychopath’s fuse… How did their loved ones feel when they saw this person who was so special to them battered and broken? How horrible would it be to have my daughter exposed to such violence in the slightest aspect? Love for my child thawed a dormant empathy for people that I was never aware of.” Slowly, Michaelis began to extricate himself from his identity as a white supremacist, putting together a new life by quitting drinking, getting a job as a computer service tech and IT con- sultant, repairing his relationship with his now-divorced par- ents, and attending university. And when his daughter was ten, she started reading books by the Dalai Lama and seeking solace in Buddhism. “I didn’t really know what Buddhism was about, but just the fact that she was drawn to it interested me,” he says. He became so intrigued by his daughter’s interest in Buddhism that in 2009, fif- teen years after leaving hate groups, Michaelis found himself on a cushion in a meditation class at a local Shambhala Buddhist center. “I still had guilt for who I was, the mistakes I made, and I was resigned to never forgiving myself for what I had done,”

    When Michaelis became a father, he began to see the world he was creating for his daughter through his actions—one based in hate, instead of love—and his views started to change.

    he says. “I tried to convince myself I was at peace with that, but obviously no one can ever be at peace not loving themselves and holding that kind of a grudge against themselves. “I don’t know that I’ll ever reach a point in my life where I’m like, ‘I’m forgiven, all’s cool,’” he says. “Even now, when some- thing goes wrong, that part of me still says, ‘You deserve this.’ ” But through Buddhism, Michaelis could now meet this part of himself with compassion, sitting with it and even offering it words of love. “It’s easier for me to say those words now than it was even a year ago,” he says.

    The McDonald’s cashier looked at the

    tattoo-covered neo-Nazi in front of

    her. “I know you’re a better person

    than that. That’s not who you are.”

    Self-forgiveness is a process, but one Michaelis says is part of the joy he feels in redefining his purpose in life. “I now know what the real definition of a warrior is,” he says. “A warrior is someone who is not subject to fear or aggression. That’s the kind of story I want for my life now.”

    ON AUGUST 5, 2012, a white supremacist named Wade Michael Page walked into a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and turned a gun on the congregation. He killed six people and wounded four, then killed himself. Michaelis was now a Buddhist leading a clean, steady life- style. He’d self-published an autobiography and was speaking at schools and colleges. But his past had just come back to deliver

    another blow. Wade Michael Page had been a member of the white power gang that Michaelis had started. He listened to Michaelis’ music. The son of one of the murdered men wanted Michaelis to help him understand why someone would do this. So Pardeep Kaleka asked him, and Michaelis answered, “Prac- tice. When you practice hate and violence, it makes your life so miserable that nothing but homicide followed by suicide seems to make sense. Things like love and compassion and forgiveness and kindness and all the most beautiful aspects of our human experience not only become unfamiliar but repulsive to you.” Kaleka and Michaelis talked about their lives and their fam- ilies, and as they got to know each other, they realized how much their different stories had in common, and how they both wanted to bring a message of shared humanity to the world. Kaleka invited Michaelis to be part of Serve 2 Unite. Serve 2 Unite is a service organization that connects com- munities and young people with global mentors Michaelis describes as “superheroes of peace”—former violent extremists or survivors of violent extremism working to connect disparate groups. Serve 2 Unite’s students and educators have created community art projects, block parties, book drives for incarcer- ated people, and peace-themed PSAs on themes such as human trafficking, homelessness, veterans’ issues, homophobia, racism, Islamophobia, religious intolerance, environmental issues, and the rift between community and police. “The idea is never giving up on the basic goodness of people, especially in challenging times,” says Michaelis. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it had I not taken on meditation practice. In Serve 2 Unite, interdependence and impermanence are central themes in everything we do. In Sikhism, the sense of inter- dependence is ik onkar, which means ‘God is one,’ and we’re all part of the same organism. I interpret that as the understanding


    that our actions affect everyone else and to be mindful of that with every step we take.” Pardeep Kaleka and Arno Michaelis have written a book about their personal journeys and their work together. The Gift of Our Wounds will be released in April.

    ARNO MICHAELIS SAYS he now defines hate as “the willful denial of compassion,” and says white supremacy thrives on violent opposition. “People who romanticize the violent opposition to neo-Nazis are playing right into the neo-Nazis’ hand,” he says. “They’re only helping them grow, recruit, and galvanize members.” Michaelis says the only thing that reached him when he was so mired in hate was the demonstration of what was right. “Hate in the world will never be resolved by applying more hate,” he says. “The simplest and most powerful tool when you’re dealing with hateful ideology is to remember that hurt people hurt people. Violence stems from suffering, and people who perpetrate violence of any sort, whether it’s bullying in a classroom or a mean com- ment on Facebook or a world war, the people doing that are hurting. When we are mindful of that, we can respond with compassion, which interrupts the cycle of violence rather than fuels it.” Michaelis says this doesn’t mean accepting or approv- ing, or not trying to stop this harmful behavior: “But it does mean that we do it with compassion so we don’t exacerbate the problem by adding our own trauma and aggression in the mix.” Michaelis says he reminds himself of this daily. “If someone cuts me off in traffic and I get angry, I tell myself I don’t know why they’re driving like that. Maybe their kid’s in the ER or they’re late and they’ll lose their job. That helps me stop the cycle of anger, and to have domain over my emotions, my mind, and my actions.” He once lived a life steeped in extremism and vio- lence, but today Arno Michaelis works to overcome hate through understanding, love, and compassion. And although he’s a Buddhist, his real teachers may be people like the cashier at McDonald’s, the woman who could see the goodness hidden behind the swastika.

    (top) When Pardeep Kaleka’s father was killed by a neo-Nazi, he reached out to Michaelis for answers. The two bonded, and Kaleka invited him to help lead Serve 2 Unite. (middle) Serve 2 Unite connects former extremists and victims of extremism with young people to create projects to heal communities. (bottom) Michaelis greets Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, leader of the Shambhala Buddhist community.

    James Huston (top) was the only pilot on the aircraft carrier Natoma Bay to die in the battle of Iwo Jima. More than five decades later, a two-year-old named James Leninger (left) talked about flying off a boat named “Natoma” near Iwo Jima and made drawings of fighter planes getting shot down.

    Do You Only Live Once?

    What happens after you die? That used to be just a religious question, but science is starting to weigh in. SAM LITTLEFAIR looks at the evidence that you’ve lived before.

    N MARCH 3, 1945, James Huston, a twenty- one-year-old U.S. Navy pilot, flew his final flight. He took off from the USS Natoma Bay, an aircraft carrier engaged in the battle of Iwo Jima. Huston was flying with a squadron of eight pilots, including his friend Jack Larsen, to strike a nearby Japa- nese transport vessel. Huston’s plane was shot in the nose and crashed in the ocean. Fifty-three years later, in April of 1998, a couple from Louisiana named Bruce and Andrea Leninger gave birth to a boy. They named him James. When he was twenty-two months old, James and his father visited a flight museum, and James discovered a fascination with planes—especially World War II aircraft, which he would stare at in awe. James got a video about a Navy flight squad, which he watched repeatedly for weeks. Within two months, James started saying the phrase, “Airplane crash on fire,” including when he saw his father off on trips at the airport. He would slam his toy planes nose-first into the coffee table, ruining the surface with dozens of scratches. James started having nightmares, first with screaming, and then with words like, “Airplane crash on fire! Little man can’t get out!”, while thrashing and kicking his legs. Eventually, James talked to his parents about the crash. James said, “Before I was born, I was a pilot and my air-

    plane got shot in the engine, and it crashed in the water, and that’s how I died.” James said that he flew off of a boat and his plane was shot by the Japanese. When his parents asked the name of the boat, he said “Natoma.” When his parents asked James who “little man” was, he would say “James” or “me.” When his parents asked if he could remember anyone else, he offered the name “Jack Larsen.” When James was two and a half, he saw a photo of Iwo Jima in a book, and said “My plane got shot down there, Daddy.”

    As a toddler, James Leninger was fascinated with airplanes and knew obscure details about WWII aircraft.

    James Huston with his mother and sister. Right: James Leninger with Huston’s sister, Anne Huston Barron, who thinks there is a connection between Huston and Leninger.

    When James Leninger was eleven years old, Jim Tucker came to visit him and his family. Tucker, a psychiatrist from the Uni- versity of Virginia, is one of the world’s leading researchers on the scientific study of reincarnation or rebirth. He spent two days interviewing the Leninger family, and says that James rep- resents one of the strongest cases of seeming reincarnation that he has ever investigated. “You’ve got this child with nightmares focusing on plane crashes, who says he was shot down by the Japanese, flew off a ship called ‘Natoma,’ had a friend there named Jack Larsen, his plane got hit in the engine, crashed in the water, quickly sank, and said he was killed at Iwo Jima. We have documentation for all of this,” says Tucker in an interview. “It turns out there was one guy from the ship Natoma Bay who was killed during the Iwo Jima operations, and everything we have documented from James’ statements fits for this guy’s life.”

    JIM TUCKER GREW UP in North Carolina. He was a South- ern Baptist, but when he started training in psychiatry, he left behind any religious or spiritual worldview. Years later, he read about the work of a psychiatrist named Ian Stevenson in the local paper. Stevenson was a well-respected academic who left his posi- tion as chair of psychiatry at the University of Virginia in the 1960s to undertake a full-time study of reincarnation. Though his papers never got published in any mainstream scientific journals, he received appreciative reviews in respected publica- tions like The Journal of the American Medical Association, The American Journal of Psychology, and The Lancet. Before his death in 2007, Stevenson handed over much of his work to Tucker at the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies. The first step in researching the possibility of rebirth is the collection of reports of past life memories. Individually, any one report, like James Leninger’s, proves little. But when thousands of the cases are analyzed collectively, they can yield compelling evidence.

    After decades of research, the Division of Perceptual Stud- ies now houses 2,500 detailed records of children who have reported memories of past lives. Tucker has written two books summarizing the research, Life Before Life and Return to Life. In Life Before Life, Tucker writes, “The best explanation for the strongest cases is that memories, emotions, and even physical injuries can sometimes carry over from one life to the next.” Children in rebirth cases generally start making statements about past lives between the ages of two and four and stop by the age of six or seven, the age when most children lose early childhood memories. A typical case of Tucker’s starts with a communication from a parent whose child has described a past life. Parents often have no prior interest in reincarnation, and they get in touch with Tucker out of distress—their child is describing things there is no logical way they could have experienced. Tucker corresponds with the parents to find out more. If it sounds like a strong case, with the possibility of identifying a previous life, he proceeds. When Tucker meets with a family, he interviews the parents, the child, and other potential informants. He fills out an eight- page registration form, and collects records, photographs, and evidence. Eventually, he codes more than two hundred variables for each case into a database. In the best cases, the researcher meets the family before they’ve identified a suspected previous identity. If the research- ers can identify the previous personality (PP) first, they have the opportunity to perform controlled tests. In a recent case, Tucker met a family whose son remembered fighting in the jungle in the Vietnam War and getting killed in action. The boy gave a name for the PP. When the parents looked up the name, they found that it was a real person. Before doing any further research, they contacted Tucker. Tucker did a controlled test with the boy, who was five. He showed him eight pairs of photos. In each pair, one photo was related to the soldier’s life and one was not—such as a photo of his high school and a photo of a high school he didn’t go to. For

    two of the pairs, the boy made no choice. In the remaining six, he chose correctly. In another case, a seven-year-old girl named Nicole remem- bered living in a small town, on “C Street,” in the early 1900s. She remembered much of the town having been destroyed by a fire and often talked of wanting to go home. Through research, Tucker hypothesized Nicole was describing Virginia City, Nevada, a small mining town that was destroyed by fire in 1875, where the main road was “C Street.” Tucker traveled to Virginia City with Nicole and her mother. As they drove down the road into the town, Nicole remarked, “They didn’t have these black roads when I lived here before.” Nicole had described strange memories of her previous life. She said there were trees floating in the water. She said horses walked down the streets. And she talked about a “hooley dance.” In the town, they discovered that there had once been a massive network of river flumes used to transport logs to the town to construct nearby mineshafts. They discovered that wild horses wandered through the streets of the town. And that a “hooley” is a type of Irish dance that was popular there. “We weren’t able to identify a specific individual,” says Tucker. “But there are parts of the case that are hard to dismiss.” As her plane was lifting off from Nevada, Nicole burst into tears. “I don’t want to leave here,” she said. Her mother asked if she really believed Virginia City was her home. “No,” said Nicole. “I know it was.”

    Ian Stevenson pioneered the field of reincarnation research. Tucker continued his work at the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies.

    Researcher Jim Tucker, author of Life Before Life, has collected hundreds of cases of children claiming past-life memories.

    TUCKER IS TRYING TO INVESTIGATE scientifically a ques-

    tion that has traditionally been the province of religion: what happens after we die? Two of the world’s largest religions, Hin- duism and Buddhism, argue that we are reborn. Certain schools of Buddhism don’t particularly concern them- selves with the idea of rebirth, and some modern analysts argue that the Buddha taught it simply as a matter of convenience because it was the accepted belief in the India of his time. Most Buddhists, however, see it as central to the teachings on the suf- fering of samsara—the wheel of cyclic existence—and nirvana, the state of enlightenment in which one is free from the karma that drives rebirth (although one may still choose to be reborn in order to follow the bodhisattva path of compassion). Buddhists generally prefer the term “rebirth” to “reincarnation” to differentiate between the Hindu and Buddhist views. The con- cept of reincarnation generally refers to the transmigration of an atman, or soul, from lifetime to lifetime. This is the Hindu view, and it is how reincarnation is generally understood in the West. Instead, Buddhism teaches the doctrine of anatman, or non- self, which says there is no permanent, unchanging entity such as a soul. In reality, we are an ever-changing collection of con- sciousnesses, feelings, perceptions, and impulses that we strug- gle to hold together to maintain the illusion of a self. In the Buddhist view, the momentum, or “karma,” of this illusory self is carried forward from moment to moment—and from lifetime to lifetime. But it’s not really “you” that is reborn. It’s just the illusion of “you.” When asked what gets reborn, Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche reportedly said, “Your bad habits.”

    Researchers believe that behaviors may carry from one life to the next. A British boy, Carl (right), remembered being German WWII pilot Heinrich Richter (top). He would draw swastikas, goose-step, and do the Nazi salute.

    For Jim Tucker, though, the spiritual connections—Buddhist or otherwise—are incidental. “I’m purely investigating what the facts show,” he says, “as opposed to how much they may agree or disagree with particular belief systems.” Rebirth is just one component of a theory of consciousness that Tucker is working on. “The mainstream materialist posi- tion is that consciousness is produced by the brain, this meat,” he says. “So consciousness is what some people would call an epiphenomenon, a byproduct.” He sees it the other way around: our minds don’t exist in the world; the world exists in our minds. Tucker describes waking reality as like a “shared dream,” and when we die, we don’t go to another place. We go into another dream. Tucker’s dream model parallels some key Buddhist concepts. In Buddhism, reality is described as illusion, often compared to a sleeping dream. In Siddhartha Gautama’s final realization, he reportedly saw the truth of rebirth and recalled all of his past lives. Later that night, he attained enlightenment, exited the cycle of death and rebirth, and earned the title of “Buddha”— which literally means “one who is awake.” In fact, according to scripture, the Buddha met most—if not all—of Jim Tucker’s six criteria for a proven case of rebirth. Maybe he would have made an interesting case.


    past lives, and memories alone are not enough to make a case. In order to proceed with an investigation, Tucker’s team requires that a case meet at least two out of six criteria:

    • 1. a specific prediction of rebirth, as in the Tibetan Buddhist tulku system

    • 2. a family member (usually the mother) dreaming about the previous personality (PP) coming

    • 3. birthmarks or birth defects that seem to correspond to the previous life

    • 4. corroborated statements about a previous life

    • 5. recognitions by the child of persons or objects connected to the PP

    • 6. unusual behaviors connected to the PP

    Tucker’s research suggests that, if rebirth is real, much more than memories pass from one life to the next. Many children have behaviors and emotions that seem closely related to their previous life. Emotionality is a signal of a strong case. The more emotion a child shows when recalling a past life, the stronger their case tends to be. When children start talking about past-life memo- ries, they’re often impassioned. Sometimes they demand to be taken to their “other” family. When talking about their past life, the child might talk in the first person, confuse past and pres- ent, and get upset. Sometimes they try to run away. In one case, a boy named Joey talked about his “other mother” dying in a car accident. Tucker recounts the following scene in Life Before Life: “One night at dinner when he was almost four years old, he stood up in his chair and appeared pale as he looked intently at his mother and said, ‘You are not my family—my family is dead.’ He cried quietly for a minute as a tear rolled down his cheek, then he sat back down and contin- ued with his meal.” In another unsettling case, a British boy recalled the life of a German WWII pilot. At age two, he started talking about crash- ing his plane while on a bombing mission over England. When he learned to draw, he drew swastikas and eagles. He goose- stepped and did the Nazi salute. He wanted to live in Germany, and had an unusual taste for sausages and thick soups. In some cases, these emotions manifest in symptoms that look like post-traumatic stress disorder, but without any obvious trauma in this life. Some of these children engage in “post-traumatic play” in which they act out their trauma— often the way the PP died—with toys. One boy repeatedly acted out his PP’s suicide, pretending a stick was a rifle and putting it under his chin. In the cases where the PP died unnaturally, more than a third of the children had phobias related to the mode of death. Among the children whose PP died by drown- ing, a majority were afraid of water.


    Just More of the Same

    Moment to moment, lifetime to lifetime—death and rebirth are happening all the time. Nine leading Buddhist teachers explain the concept of rebirth—and why it’s not the same as reincarnation.


    tral teaching in the Buddhist tradition. The earliest records in the Pali Canon indicate that the Buddha, prior to his awakening, searched for a happiness not subject to the vagaries of repeated birth, aging, illness, and death. One of the reasons he left his early teachers was because he recognized that their teach- ings led, not to the goal he sought, but to rebirth on a refined level. On the night of his awakening, two of the three knowledges leading to his release from suffering focused on the topic of rebirth. The first showed his own many previous lives; the second, depicting the general pattern of beings dying and being reborn throughout the cosmos, showed the connection between rebirth and karma, or action. When he did finally attain release from suffering, he recognized that he had achieved his goal because he had touched a dimension that not only was free from birth, but also had freed him from ever being reborn again. After he had attained release, his new-found freedom from rebirth was the first realization that occurred spontaneously to his mind.


    What is it that gets reborn? The classical metaphor is of an acorn. An acorn becomes an oak tree. When the oak tree is here, the acorn is not, and no part of the acorn can be found in the oak tree. One simply has succeeded the other, just as one moment and one life succeeds the previous moment or life. For me, the most important thing about the teaching of rebirth—the part that seems true and that matters a great deal—is that life continues. That is, there is more to our lives than the little span of time between birth and death. The teaching of rebirth tells us that our life and death are signifi- cant beyond their appearances, more significant than we know. Being born is important. Dying is important. Death is defi- nitely a hugely important transition, at least as huge as birth.

    Every moment of life is an important transition. For me, this is what the teaching of rebirth comes down to.


    The process of rebirth is conditioned by mental factors that have been cul- tivated, either consciously or uncon- sciously. These qualities of mind, such as desire, generosity, anger, and loving- kindness, then condition the energy and form of the next birth. We can see this process of condition- ing at work in this life without neces- sarily believing in rebirth. If we are mindful and pay careful attention to our lives in the here and now, we can see the power of past conditioning and how it shapes our experience in the present moment. Understanding the limits and burdens of conditioning can inspire us to practice toward realizing inner freedom and the unconditioned in this very lifetime.


    From the point of view of anatman [non-self], nothing reincar- nates. It is more of a rebirth process rather than reincarnation. The idea of reincarnation is that a solid, living quality is being passed on to the next being. It is the idea of some solid sub- stance being passed on. But in this case, it’s more of a rebirth. You see, something continues, but at the same time, nothing continues. In a sense we’re like a running stream. You could say, such and such a river, such and such a stream. It has a name, but if you examine it carefully, that river you named three hun- dred years ago isn’t there at all; it is completely different, chang- ing, passing all the time. It is transforming from one aspect to another. That complete transformation makes it possible to take rebirth. If one thing continued all the time there would be no possibilities for taking rebirth and evolving into another situ- ation. It is the change which is important in terms of rebirth, rather than one thing continuing.

    You see, the ultimate idea of rebirth is not purely the idea of physical birth and death. Physical birth and death are very crude examples of it. Actually, rebirth takes place every moment, every instant. Every instant is death; every instant is birth. It’s a changing process: there’s nothing you can grasp onto; everything is changing. But there is some continuity, of course—the change is the continuity.


    Reincarnation means there is a soul that goes out of your body and enters another body. That is a very popular, very wrong notion of continuation in Buddhism. If you think that there is a soul, a self, that inhabits a body, and that goes out when the body disintegrates and takes another form, that is not Buddhism. When you look into a person, you see five skandhas, or ele- ments: form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. There is no soul, no self, outside of these five, so when the five elements go to dissolution, the karma, the actions, that you have performed in your lifetime is your continuation. What you have done and thought is still there as energy. You don’t need a soul, or a self, in order to continue. It’s like a cloud. Even when the cloud is not there, it contin- ues always as snow or rain. The cloud does not need to have a soul in order to continue. There’s no beginning and no end. You don’t need to wait until the total dissolution of this body to continue—you continue in every moment.


    I don’t believe in rebirth and yet, I don’t negate it. There is no

    basis to believe or negate it. What I can say for sure is, “I don’t know.” The important thing for me is to practice in this lifetime as the Buddha instructed in the Dhammapada, “To refrain from anything bad and practice everything good. Purify your mind. This is the teaching of the seven Buddhas.” If there is rebirth, it is all right, I will try to practice in the same manner. If there is no-rebirth, I don’t need to do anything after my death. So I don’t need to think about it in that case. Even if I don’t believe rebirth as a person, I don’t negate the principle of cause and result. What I am doing now will have

    result even after my death.


    Having looked at the traditional Buddhist account of rebirth and having reflected on some of the difficulties it presents, where does one stand? It is often felt that there are two options: one can either believe in rebirth or not believe in it. But there is a third alternative: that of agnosticism—to acknowledge in all honesty that one does not know. One does not have either to assert it or to deny it; one neither has to adopt the literal versions presented by tradition nor fall into the other extreme of believing that

    death is a final annihilation. This, I feel, could provide a good Buddhist middle way for approaching the issue today.


    Simply stated, the Buddhist view is that—at the conventional level—we have all experienced thousands if not millions of rebirths in every possible realm we can imagine. Not just as humans but as animals, in the spirit realms, in higher realms and lower realms. We should remember that if we met ourselves in our last lifetime, we wouldn’t know ourselves at all. It’s not me that gets reborn. If we could see ourselves in the next lifetime, who would that be? I will be a completely different being. But that being is also thinking “me.” So we don’t have to cling too tightly to our per- sonal identity, there is just a stream of consciousness going for- ward which as long as we do believe in an “I,” it will be endless.


    The Buddhist view of rebirth refutes the notion of an immor- tal soul, because it denies that there is anything unchanging in either the physical or mental aspects of phenomena. The Buddha categorized the prevalent theories of body and soul of his time into two distinct miscomprehensions. The first category comprised those that denied that the body and soul were separate—at death we become extinct, with no after or future life. The other group were those that thought body and soul were totally separate. The body is perishable, but the soul is immortal and continues to survive from one birth to another. The first group he called “nihilists” and the second group “eternalists.” Interestingly, it is a situation not dissimilar to the one we face today, with the humanist materialists, on the one hand, denying the existence of mind or consciousness and rejecting any notion of survival after individual death, and the religious traditions, on the other hand, positing a soul that sur- vives death and continues to exist in one form or another. The Buddhist position on rebirth, on the contrary, is based on the so-called middle view, which avoids these two extremes, namely, the denial of the continuation of consciousness or mind altogether, and the positing of an immutable psychic principle (atman or soul, or some other descriptor of a greater self). According to the Buddha, both body and mind are subject to continual change, and so even at death what is transferred from one life to the next is not an unchanging psychic principle, but different psychic elements all hanging together, samskaras— memories, various impressions, and so on, none of which is

    unchanging in itself. —TRALEG KYABGON RINPOCHE

    Sources: Accesstoinsight.org; What Is Zen?; Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, Fall, 2003; The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Vol. VI; Lion’s Roar, January, 2012; Thezensite.com; Secular Buddhism; Teaching on 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva; Karma:What It Is, What It Isn’t, Why It Matters.

    Positive attributes can also carry over, seemingly. In almost one in ten cases, parents report that their child has an unusual skill related to the previous life. Some of those cases involve “xenoglossy,” the ability to speak or write a language one couldn’t have learned by normal means. A two-year-old boy named Hunter remembered verifiable details from a past life as a famous pro golfer. Hunter took toy golf clubs everywhere he went. He started golf lessons three years ahead of the minimum age, and his instructors called him a prodigy. By age seven, he had competed in fifty junior tourna- ments, winning forty-one. In many cases, the child is born with marks or birth defects that seem connected to wounds on the PP’s body. Ian Stevenson reported two hundred such cases in his monograph Reincarnation and Biology, including several in which a child who remembered having been shot had a small, round birthmark (matching a bullet entrance wound) and, on the other side of their body, a larger, irregularly-shaped birthmark (matching a bullet exit wound). Patrick, born in the Midwest in 1992, had several notable birth- marks. His older half-brother, Kevin, had died of cancer twelve years before Patrick was born. Kevin was in good health until he was sixteen months old, when he developed a limp, caused by can- cer. He was admitted to the hospital, and doctors saw that he had a swelling above his right ear, also caused by the disease. His left eye was protruding and bleeding slightly, and he eventually went blind in that eye. The doctors gave him fluid through an IV inserted in the right side of his neck. He died within a few months. Soon after Patrick’s birth, his mother noticed a dark line on his neck, exactly where Kevin’s IV had been; an opacity in his left eye, where Kevin’s eye had protruded; and a bump above his right ear, where Kevin had swelling. When he began to walk,

    Ryan, a boy from Oklahoma (left, with his mother and Jim Tucker) remembered many details about a life as a Hollywood movie extra and agent. After investigation, the details matched the life of a man named Marty Martyn (below), who died in 1964.

    Patrick had a limp, like his brother. At age four, he began recall- ing memories from Kevin’s life and saying he had been Kevin. Tucker says there is no perfect case, but, collectively, the research becomes hard to rationalize with normal explanations. Research has demonstrated that children in past-life memory cases are no more prone to fantasies, suggestions, or dissociation than other children. Regarding coincidence, statisticians have declined to do statistical analyses because the cases involve too many complex factors, but one statistician commented, “phrases like ‘highly improbable’ and ‘extremely rare’ come to mind.” For the stronger cases, the most feasible explanation is elaborate fraud, but it’s hard to see any reason why a family would make up such a story. Often, reincarnation actually violates their belief system, and many families remain anonymous, anyway. “This is not like what you might see on TV, where someone says they were Cleopatra,” says Tucker. “These kids are typically talking about being an ordinary person. The child has numer- ous memories of a nondescript life.” Tucker quotes the late astronomer and science writer Carl Sagan, whose last book was The Demon Haunted World, a repu- diation of pseudoscience and a classic work on skepticism. In it, Sagan wrote that there were three paranormal phenomena he believed deserve serious study, the third being “that young children sometimes report details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation.” Sagan didn’t say he believed in reincarnation, but he felt the research had yielded enough evidence that it deserved further study. Until an idea is disproven, Sagan said, it’s critical that we engage with the idea with openness and ruthless scrutiny. “This,” he wrote, “is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”

    How to deal with diicult people

    It’s one of life’s biggest challenges. Seven teachers o er Buddhist wisdom and techniques to help you handle it.


    (and not be one yourself)

    Look in the Empty Mirror

    Contemplative psychologist KAREN KISSEL WEGELA teaches a practice to help us see diicult people—and ourselves—more clearly.

    WE HAV E AL L HA D THE EXP ERI E N CE of dealing with people we find difficult, and none of us wants to be a difficult person ourselves. “Through the Empty Mir- ror” is a contemplation that can help us bring compassion toward those we have a hard time with. It can also soften us so that we are less difficult for others. Many traditions encourage us to walk in another’s shoes or to treat others as we would like to be treated. The “Empty Mirror” gives us a way to practice doing that. In dramatic or subtle ways, the contemplation may touch and open your heart where it has become fixed or frozen. Sometimes it is life changing for people, as it was for one man who had broken off communication with his twin brother. After doing this contempla- tion, he contacted his brother and the two reconnected deeply after more than a decade. Begin by finding a quiet place and sitting down. It’s helpful to follow your breath for a few minutes as a way to calm the mind a bit. Then, think of the person you find difficult. Think of what you know about this per- son: their appearance, how they spend their time, what they care about, what is difficult about them for you. Then, imagine that they are sitting opposite you at eye level. Place

    them at whatever distance feels right. Don’t worry about getting a clear image. It’s enough to just have a sense they are there. Notice whatever arises in you as you imagine the diffi- cult person opposite you. What sensations, emotions, and thoughts come up? Allow whatever comes to be there. Take some time with this. Next, in your imagination, change places with them; become the difficult person. Take your time settling into this new body. What’s it like to be this person? What do you notice in your body? In your emotions? In your thoughts? Again, take your time. Now, as you look at the person sitting opposite you (i.e., the original you), notice what you feel toward that person. What history do you have? Notice any sensations, emotions, and thoughts that arise. Now, specifically think about what you, now the difficult person, want from the original you. If it’s okay with you and not harmful, imagine that, as the difficult person, you receive what you want. Notice how it feels to receive it. This step of the contemplation is optional.

    Though people think they are fighting about this or that, usually they are fighting over identity—over each one’s right to be

    who they are. —NORMAN FISCHER

    Now, trade places again, and go back to being your origi- nal self. Once again, look at or sense the person opposite you. What arises for you now as you imagine them? If you gave them what they wanted, how would that feel for you now? When you feel ready, let the whole contemplation go and rest once again with your breathing for a few minutes. Having done the contemplation, just notice what you are experiencing, especially when you think of the other person. Notice what, if anything, has shifted. Many people find that what the person wanted was something they could readily offer. Others find that it is out of the question. This contemplation can help us let go of our fixed ideas about the other person. It can enable us to see them in a more rounded way and let go of any labels or stereotypes we have been holding about them. This may allow us be more open-hearted and less difficult ourselves.

    The author of Contemplative Psychotherapy

    Essentials, KAREN KISSEL WEGELA, PhD,

    is a psychologist and faculty member at Naropa University.

    Ego Is the Real Culprit

    No matter what the conflict appears to be about, says Zen teacher NORMAN FISCHER, it always come down to defending our shaky sense of self.

    “Self” lies at the heart of the human prob- lem. We take ourselves completely for granted. I am I: of course, who else would I be? But what is this “self” who I am? The Buddha saw that the experience we think of as “self,” is inherently shaky. If I am I, and not you or she, there’s always a built-in vulnerability. Because the essence of “I” or “we” is that it’s not another. This means that

    to be itself my “I” must assert itself against another who is asserting itself against me. So self naturally assumes an aggres- sive or defensive crouch, with little room for ease. Self is an inherently painful illusion. So the Buddha taught. This explains why people are often difficult. If you are in constant need of safety, and must scan the world for threats and slights, you are going to find yourself in conflict a lot of the time. Conflict isn’t abnormal, it’s not a failure: it’s the rule. And it’s almost always the case that though people in conflict think they are fighting about this or that, actually they are fighting over identity, over each one’s right to be who they are, and the need to justify that right, against the claims of another. So-called difficult people are bothered nearly all the time with some hurt, some wound, that tells them it’s not okay to be as and who they are. And yet they are as they are. Rather than trying to cope with their own suffering (which feels too overwhelming to approach) they lash out, which makes dealing with them nearly impossible. Whatever you do will be wrong. If you accommodate, they take advantage. If you resist, it only fuels their attack. It’s a trap to think that some- how, despite their recriminations, it’s your fault. It’s also a trap to think the fault is theirs: in fact, they have not really chosen to be that way. The biggest trap of all is to think you can do something to change them. There’s only one option: to understand and appreciate why they are as they are. And when you can do that you can love them anyway. And then they will be less difficult, or, at least, will appear less difficult to you. This is not as impossible to accomplish as it might seem, because you are also a difficult person! All of us are at times defensive or aggressive when we feel threatened. The feeling we have at those times is unpleasant and does not bring out the best in us. So, we have incentive to deal with it. If, with the aid of meditation practice, some good teaching, and intentional training, we study ourselves closely, we will come to understand others too. When we humbly appreciate why we are as we are, we will appreciate why the difficult person is as they are. Like us, they’re subject to their conditioning. When they manifest difficult behavior, they are not happy people. Knowing this helps us forgive them, at least a little. Then we can appreciate Shantideva’s great teaching that difficult people are precious treasures, rare individuals who force us to develop the wis- dom and compassion we need to find some peace and stabil- ity in this troubled world.

    ZOKETSU NORMAN FISCHER is a writer, poet, and founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation.

    How to Hold Your Seat

    PEMA CHÖDRÖN shares four practical methods for keeping your cool when diicult people are at their worst.

    The practice of “holding your seat” is one of the most important ways to work with difficult people and circum- stances. Holding your seat means maintaining your stability, equanimity, and sense of self in the face of provocation, without giving in to reactivity or unskillful anger. If you try to practice this, you will find very quickly that it is not so easy. Often, before you know it, someone has pro- voked you and either directly or indirectly, you’ve let them have it. Therefore, when our intention is sincere but the going gets rough, most of us could use some help. These four methods for holding your seat, which come to us from the Kadampa masters of eleventh-century Tibet, provide just such support for developing the patience to stay open to what’s happening, instead of acting on automatic pilot.

    1. Don’t Set Up the Target for the Arrow

    If you have not set up the target it cannot be hit by an arrow. This is to say that each time you retaliate with words and actions that hurt, you are strengthening the habit of anger.

    Then, without doubt, plenty of arrows will always be coming your way. The choice is yours: Each time you sit still with the restlessness and heat of anger—neither acting it out nor repressing it—you are tamed and strengthened. Each time you act on the anger or suppress it, you are weakened; you become more and more like a walking target. So this is the first method: remember that you set the tar- get up yourself, and only you can take it down. Understand that if you hold your seat even for 1.5 seconds longer than ever before, you are starting to dissolve a pattern of reactivity that, if you let it, will continue to hurt you and others forever.

    2. Connect with Your Heart

    In times of anger, you can contact the kindness and compas- sion that you already have. When someone harms you, you can understand that they are sowing seeds of their own mis- ery, their own confusion, their own dissatisfaction. The life of

    one who is always angry is painful and generally very lonely. So this is the second method: remember that the one who harms you does not need to be provoked further, and neither do you. Sit still with the restlessness and pain of the anger, neither acting it out nor repressing it, and let it tame you and strengthen you and make you kinder.

    3. See Obstacles as Teachers

    If there is no teacher around to give you direct personal guidance, never fear! Life itself will provide the opportuni- ties for learning how to hold your seat. The troublemaker, for instance, who so disturbs you—without this person how could you ever get the chance to practice patience? How could you ever get the chance to know the energy of anger so intimately that it loses its power? Right at the point when you are about to blow your top, remember this: you are a disciple being taught how to sit still with the edginess and discomfort of the energy. You are a disciple being challenged by the teacher to hold your seat and open to the situation with as much courage and as much kindness as you possibly can.

    4. Regard All that Occurs as a Dream

    It is helpful to contemplate that the one who is difficult, the difficulty itself, and the recipient of that difficulty are all hap- pening as if in a dream. You can reflect on the essencelessness of your current situation rather than putting such big impor- tance on everything. This big-deal struggle, this big-deal prob- lematic (or self-righteous) me, and this big-deal person who opposes you, could all be lightened up considerably. When you awaken from sleep you know that the enemies in your dreams are an illusion. In the same way, instead of acting out of impulse, you could slow down and ask your- self, “Who is this monolithic me that has been so offended? And who is this other person that they can trigger me like this?” Contemplate that these outer things, as well as these emotions, as well as this huge sense of me, are passing and essenceless, like a memory, like a movie, like a dream. Recalling this instruction, you just might find it helps you to loosen your grip and open your mind.

    ANI PEMA CHÖDRÖN is a Buddhist nun, leading American Buddhist teacher, and author of such classics as When Things Fall Apart and Start Where You Are.

    The Undefended Heart

    The way to helpful communication in diicult situ- ations, says RAY BUCKNER, is by pausing, creating space, and listening to your body and mind.

    I WAS SIT TING IN BED waiting for her. I’d just finished an hour’s worth of panic attacks when my body finally became still. It was in that stillness—marked by a soothing solitude and a quiet mind—that I noticed exactly what was arising, how I was hurting, and what I wanted to say. When she first arrived, I tried to speak but couldn’t—too afraid of dismissal, rejection, and shame, qualities that char- acterized our recent conversations. I finally worked up the courage to share my difficult truth: “I just feel like I don’t really matter.” She rolled her eyes. I was devastated. In an instant, my awareness was obliterated. Distress filled my body, and I couldn’t breathe. This is often how it goes when interacting with difficult people. We yearn for understanding, but when we touch a harsh and unaccepting presence, we close down. And when we’re the difficult person, we become reactive and cause oth- ers to freeze and keep silent. Whether the situation is deeply volatile and anxiety pro- voking, or subtle in its creation of anguish, anger, or fear, the bottomline is this: working with difficult people and dealing

    with difficult situations doesn’t have to be so painful. No matter if we are the difficult person or the difficult person is another, we can employ the simple technique of pausing, taking space, and asking ourselves some fundamen- tal questions about our suffering. In this way, our difficulty can transform into helpful awareness. In effect, working with difficulty begins with us. Being in contact with a difficult person can cause us to con-

    tract and lose connection with our bodies. In these states of distress, slight or extreme, we need to take the time to return to ourselves. When we listen to our body and mind with a loving ear, we begin to understand our pain, honor our experience, and hold ourselves with much needed compassion. It’s helpful to find time to be alone, so that with ample space we may ask ourselves: Where in my body is the hurt located? When I reflect on this difficult person, what arises for me? How does this difficult person’s behavior cause me pain?

    Diicult people su er deeply and lack the understanding and skills to act di erently. Our responsibility as practitioners is to help them transform the roots of their su ering.


    It’s from this soft, inquisitive place that we begin to feel calm and safe in our bodies, creating conditions for aware- ness to arise. With awareness, we may then ask ourselves compassionately how we’d like to approach our difficult situ- ation or person. The invitation is similar when we’re trying to refrain from becoming difficult ourselves. When we’re difficult, we’re usu- ally afraid of something, often of becoming hurt by another. Instead of listening to our fears, we tense up and act out. In the very moment we notice ourselves preparing to attack, we can stop and create space by asking ourselves some heartfelt questions. In addition to those above, we may ask:

    What about this situation is setting me off? As my body tenses, can I breathe and stay with that feeling? Would it be possible to

    soften my heart, even just a little? As I ask these questions, what sensations arise?

    When we create space, we begin both to understand our own reactions and to consider another’s perspective and pain. We have greater presence, compassion, and care. Ultimately, by creating space in the midst of hardship and compassionately contemplating our suffering, we transform difficulty into awareness. It’s from this awareness, embodied by a tender, undefended heart, that helpful communication, both within us and between each other, will emanate.

    RAY BUCKNER practices in the Shambhala Buddhist community and has worked for organizations devoted to racial, religious, and sexual justice.

    10 Vows Not to Make Things Diicult

    Who’s really making things diicult? asks Zen

    teacher KAREN MAEZEN MILLER. Here are ten

    ways to take care of your end.

    NOT LONG AGO my husband and I hiked a steep mountain trail near our home. It was difficult for me, so I hated it. It was easy for him, and so he enjoyed it. Beneath it all, the trail was just the trail. We walked the very same ground. What was different was how we judged it. Life is full of difficulties, which the Buddha called dukkha:

    things that are hard for us to handle. Sometimes those things are difficult people, and sometimes those things are difficult circumstances, but what we have to see is where the difficulty comes from. As long as we think the problem lies outside of us, nothing changes. We can rail against a person or situation with our anger or blame, but then, who’s being difficult? Buddhism gives us a straightforward answer in the ten grave precepts. Not to be confused with commandments, laws, rules, or ethical boundaries, the precepts simply show us how we make things difficult, and how we can make things less difficult by letting go of our egocentric views. The precepts have been reinterpreted in different ways with the intention to make them more understandable or relevant to modern times. In my Buddhist tradition, we still use the language that came from the first Chinese transla- tions of the earliest Buddhist texts. That’s where we find a not-so-subtle clue about how to discipline our behavior and transform difficulty into ease.

    • I vow to refrain from killing.

    • I vow to refrain from stealing.

    • I vow to refrain from unchaste behavior.

    • I vow to refrain from telling lies.

    • I vow to refrain from being ignorant.

    • I vow to refrain from talking about others’ faults or errors.

    • I vow to refrain from elevating myself and blaming others.

    • I vow to refrain from being stingy.

    • I vow to refrain from being angry.

    • I vow to refrain from speaking ill of the three treasures.

    At first glance, we may not see the clue. After all, we tell ourselves, we don’t kill, steal, or lie! We’re nice, not mean. We

    give money and old clothes to charity. And more than that, we’re right about most of the things that other people are wrong about. But the clue is in none of those things. The clue is the word “refrain.” What we are vowing to refrain from is letting ourselves be controlled by the ego-driven “I” that wants to impose itself on others in self-centered ways. The practice of refraining is multidimensional and profound. It requires self-awareness, self-admission, and self-control before taking action. And it makes a big difference. In the words of Dogen Zenji in The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, “Refraining is not something that worldly people are apt to think of before concocting what they are going to do.” Pain and suffering result from actions taken by people who do not refrain. On the trail, it was pretty obvious why my husband had an easier time of it: he’d been practicing. Similarly, Dogen tells us that if you “rouse your heart and mind to do the training and practice, you will have already realized eight- or nine-tenths of the way. Before you know it, you will have ‘refraining’ always in the back of your mind.” The way sounds like something difficult, but it’s not.

    KAREN MAEZEN MILLER’s books include Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden. She has a century-old Japanese garden in her backyard.

    Meeting Heart-to-Heart

    The key, says KOSHIN PALEY ELLISON, is two

    people willing to let go of being right.

    I am responsible. You are responsible.

    —Taizan Maezumi Roshi

    A year ago, a rather unfavorable review appeared regarding me and my husband as the teachers and cofounders the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. My first reaction was feeling vulnerable and hurt. I’d never met this person and, to my knowledge, he’d never been to our center.

    • I was curious about someone who was driven to write

    such things about us, personally and as teachers, without having ever met us. After reflecting on what he’d written to see if there was some underlying truth to the words, I felt confident that his thoughts and ideas were founded in some-

    thing other than one truth.

    • I decided to write to the man, but just as I was about to do so, I received a message from him. He was inquiring about

    his concerns. How courageous, I thought. How rare it is that we manifest our practice through direct communication. It’s so easy to gossip and talk about others anonymously.

    • I thought about what my beloved teacher, Sensei Dorothy

    Dai-En Friedman, often says. “In order to practice fully, we

    whether it presents itself as a challenging conversation, or lies solely in our own thoughts. We are filled with ideas, pref- erences, and opinions and very often they’re not based on direct experience. Together we explored his difficulties, and I shared mine. What unfolded was the hurt he had experienced himself with two past teachers who had grossly crossed boundaries. He shared his feelings of not being heard by them. This was what had activated him. In this conversation, what I could see happening was that together, we were cocreating the intimacy of courage. Of course, there are circumstances when this is possible, and others when it is not. This was what made this encounter so moving. It took both of us surrendering our old stories and hurts, and meeting each other in the moment. This is what I call true courage: two people practicing the total willingness to let go of being right and meeting each other in the receptive ground of the dharma.

    KOSHIN PALEY ELLISON is the co-editor of Awake at the Bed- side: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care.

    have to be willing to surrender everything, and we have to

    realize there is no arrival and it is all an unfolding process. Easy to say, and takes everything to do.” This instruction is what I return to throughout my days, and it was particularly pertinent with this new seemingly dif- ficult situation and person. I myself have chosen to turn away from discomfort.

    • I felt tender toward this man for his willingness to engage

    in what could be a very difficult conversation. What is it that brings us to create and encourage gossip? On the day we were to meet, I took some time beforehand

    to sit zazen and offer the merits of our meeting to all people who are harmed by rumors. When he arrived at the center, my feeling on seeing him was one of warmth and friendship. He was smiling; we shook hands and went into a private room to talk. Immediately, he offered an apology for disparaging us and talking about things he had not himself experienced. I offered my appreciation for his willingness to even begin this face-to-face conversation.

    • I invited him to share his concerns with me. We spoke at length about how rare it is to actually engage in difficulty,

    Diicult People Are Su ering People

    Understanding that, says MITCHELL RATNER, is the key to responding with compassion and skill— even to that guy in the White House.

    A TEACHING I HEARD Thich Nhat Hanh offer many times is that people who are difficult, people who say and do mean and offensive things, are not evil. They act that way because they suffer deeply and lack the understand- ing and skills to act differently. So rather than respond- ing to them in anger, our responsibility as practitioners is to understand why they suffer, nourish our capacity to respond with compassion, and help them learn to trans- form the roots of their suffering. I came to understand Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching more deeply one day when I realized that the difficult people around me—those who were critical, judgmental, easily irritated, short tempered, and so on—were like that not just to me and others, but also to themselves. If they were being hard on me, they were making themselves suffer even more. I could separate myself, mentally and physically, from their meanness; they could not. It became easier not to take the mean things people said or did personally, and my compas- sion grew. Some years ago, my wife and I walked a thousand miles of the Camino de Santiago from eastern France to western

    Spain. Along the way, in a rain shelter, we met a Swiss man who unexpectedly lashed into us for fifteen minutes, blaming us for all the evils he saw the U.S. perpetrating in the world. We said little, the rain stopped, and we went our separate ways. However, we were all heading west on the Camino and repeatedly encountered each other on the trail. My wife and

    • I consciously decided to befriend him. After a few exchanges

    he opened up and shared his sorrows, especially his struggles with his ex-wife and teenage daughter, for whom he cared greatly. On the day before his return to Switzerland, he apolo- gized to us for what he’d said in the rain shelter. I try to use Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching also with Donald Trump, who has said and done so many things that seem to

    me to be cruel and offensive. Our sangha has started a weekly metta meditation in Lafayette Square, across from the White House. After centering myself, I bring to mind the mental suffering President Trump may have experienced as a child and still may experience. I feel compassion arise in me, and

    • I send the energy of loving-kindness to the White House.

    My wish is that everyone in the White House might feel safe, loved, and accepted, and that the seeds of peace, joy, and true love within them will grow. In my metta meditation, I also send loving-kindness to those who have loved and supported me, and to all people around me, those whose names I know and those whose names I don’t know. In bringing these people to mind and sending them my loving-kindness, they become more real to me and I feel more connected to them. I truly want these people to be well, safe, and happy. And, finally, I send metta to myself, wishing that I may be safe, loved, and accepted, and that my stability and inner peace may grow. My aspiration is that as my loving-kindness and compassion deepen, the childhood suffering I carry will lessen, and I’ll act less often in ways that others experience as mean, offensive, or difficult. Sending metta to the White House isn’t the only action I want to take as a mindful citizen. However, the cultivation of open-heartedness and inclusiveness feels like a powerful antidote to the demonization of others that’s plaguing Amer- ican life. Endeavoring to practice the teaching that “no person is evil” allows me to hold the suffering and unskillfulness of those around me, as well as to transform my own suffering and unskillfulness. It reminds me that we’re not separate, no matter how separate we may feel at times.

    • M ITC HE L L R AT N ER was ordained as a dharma teacher by Thich

    Nhat Hanh and is founder of the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Cen- ter in Maryland.

    Contemplate that the one who is diicult, the diiculty itself, and the recipient of that diiculty are all happening as if in a dream.


    Eat! Eat!

    Forced to overeat as a child,

    SHARON SUH finally learns for herself what is enough.

    “S MELL YOUR FOOD and make sure to take small bites so you can savor the taste and appreciate the meal,” says Jake, a former Thai monk who is one of the teachers at the weeklong People of Color

    meditation retreat I’m attending. Despite studying Buddhism for over thirty years, identify- ing as a Buddhist, and even obtaining a doctorate in Buddhist Studies, I am a relative newcomer to daily meditation and retreat practice. This lack of meditation experience is pretty common among Asian American Buddhist practitioners such as myself. In 2012, the Pew Research Center reported that only 14 percent of Asian American Buddhists claim to meditate. Yet I have long wished for a sangha where I could meditate, feel at home in my Korean-American body, and not stand out as a woman of color in the sea of white practitioners who seem to

    predominate meditation centers in the U.S. So when I saw an online advertisement for a People of Color retreat at a center in Northern California, I jumped at the opportunity. At this retreat, which feels like a Buddhist summer camp, with its dormitories, kitchen hall, hiking trails, and even a res- ident peacock, our teachers encourage us to eat with the same focus we bring to our seated meditation practice. “Put your fork down between each bite and don’t let your- self get distracted so you eat just until you are full,” says Asha, another of our teachers. “Trust your body to cue your brain when you have had enough.” Despite the gentleness and simplicity of the instructions, I’m tentative about my ability to follow it. Will I be able to feel my body’s fullness once I have eaten enough? Am I capable of eat- ing what my body wants, desires, and needs without judgment?

    Can I inhabit my body and feel it from the inside out? In her soft, calm voice, Dee Dee, another practice leader, instructs participants to explore how we feel in our bodies in the present moment. I perk up from my slumping posture as she guides us in the practice of sitting, paying attention, and turning our senses inward. “Because we tend to neglect the body, we should pay atten- tion to it through careful and deep listening,” she says. Instead of being encouraged to let go of our attachment to our bodies, we are invited to treat them as beloved friends. This is the first time meditation has been presented to me as the rad- ical act of taking up space and appreciating myself as a woman with a body and a complex history surrounding it. Asha encourages us to do the same—to use the body as an object of meditation to gain awareness of what’s happening inside of ourselves. Doing so, she said, will allow us to disengage from reactivity and from the endless stories we create about ourselves and our supposed shortcomings. While I understand the value of this teaching, I struggle to follow it, not because I’m intent on ignoring my body, but because I have long been obsessed with it. Observing my body has never been an act of mindfulness, nor has it ever brought me freedom from desire or discontent. I often perform a body scan each day, but not the kind the Buddha recommended. Rather than exploring and focusing on how my body feels in this moment, I continually monitor and evaluate how it looks. For most of my life, the act of scanning my body has been entirely ensnarled with negative judgments that inevitably fueled desire—the desire to change the way my body looked and felt. I had learned from an early age to view every feature of my body (and thus to view myself) negatively, as though the body I inhabited were a reflection of my worth. I scan, and I judge—puffy, overly soft, weak, unattractive, fat, undisci- plined… I wonder if Asha or Dee Dee have ever engaged in this form of self-abuse, or if meditation has cured them of it. My struggle to feel my body and to discern whether I am hun- gry or full began quite young. I grew up in the 1970s, a second- generation Korean American in New York with a mentally ill mother who suffered from anorexia and bulimia. Throughout my formative years, she projected her body dysmorphia onto me, shaming me for my weight and my Asian features. I was never allowed to act on my own hunger or satiation because my mother always decided when I ate, how much I ate, and when I could stop. I was under her constant surveillance. My mother had come of age during the Korean War, where starvation loomed large. After the war, she moved to the United States, where food was abundant. Eating as much as possible was necessary for survival in Korea, but here in her new home, thinness was a way to accumulate social capital. She left condi-

    tions of wartime starvation only to be met with a new kind of food deprivation, this time chosen. She starved herself for beauty and acceptance. In my mother’s eyes, Twiggy, the fright- eningly thin British supermodel, represented the American ideal of feminine beauty. “Don’t even think about trying to get out of your chair until you’ve finished all of it,” my mother quietly warns me. “And fin- ish the milk too.” From my high chair, I try to avert my eyes from the huge mound of steaming white rice flanked by an equally tall heap of bulgogi, a sweet and savory Korean grilled beef. A small pile of chopped up kimchi rinsed in water to nullify its spiciness rests by its side. Each evening my mother ritually arranges the dinner plate on the high chair’s removable table. She reaches for the enor- mous glass of milk and places it exactly at the top front of the plate and sets a spoon and fork on each side. A soft plastic bib is secured around my neck and the plastic tray of my high chair clicks into place. I am once again locked in for the rite of eating. I know the drill. Eat until I can’t eat anymore. Eat because

    • I have no choice. Eat even if I am not hungry, and don’t even

    bother telling anyone I am already full. It won’t do any good. I pick up my fork and begin. I know it is too much for my tod- dler body to handle, yet I keep at it. My face reddens in shame and my stomach hurts, but I know the consequences of not clearing my plate. So I keep silent, hop- ing that I won’t be punished. Good Korean daughters do what their mothers tell them, after all. A few hours have passed, I am sick of sitting still, and I still

    can’t finish the rice. My head bobs to the side as I grow tired, but

    • I cannot go to sleep. I must stay awake, fork in hand, and eat until

    all the food on my plate is gone or at least until my father gets home from work. As soon as I hear the car come up the drive and the car door shut, I feel relief, knowing I will soon be set free from this chair until it’s time to return to it in the morning. When that front door opens and my dad walks in with his briefcase, my mother doesn’t skip a beat. She says, as if it were just a coincidence, “Oh, she just finished eating.” She throws me that familiar warning look to keep quiet and says in exasperation, “at least finish your milk,” implying I am the cause of wasted food. I comply and she finally unlocks the small tray. I squirm uncomfortably out of the chair and greet my father with a meek “hello.” I am well trained in keeping secrets. And he never asks. These memories of being fed beyond my body’s capacity return to me with fierce clarity as I sit in meditation. In Korean households, children are under the rule of the parents. Rebel- lion is not an option. We never talked back to our parents, and we kept quiet about negative things in order to save face. By forcing me to eat beyond what my body could contain, my

    (Above) Not all of Sharon Suh’s childhood eating experiences were bad. Here she’s looking forward to cake. (Right) Suh, age three, with her brother at Halloween.

    mother short-circuited my internal cues for hunger and sati- ation, causing me to grow more and more estranged from my own body. The basic rule was “Eat, but don’t you dare throw up,” so I ate everything on my plate, terrified of allowing it to come back up. Sometimes, though, it happened anyway. There are only so many Devil Dogs one child can eat before heaving them back up all over the kitchen table. The constant pressure to eat but remain thin is a common struggle among Asian American women. I was far from alone in being force-fed. Most Asian American women I know grew up bombarded by the same constant, contradictory refrains, “Eat! Don’t leave food on your plate. It’s rude! Why are you so fat? How will you get a husband?” The warnings were passed down from grandmothers, aunts, and mothers to daughters who are always critiqued for being too fat, but pressured into eating whatever is given in gratitude for those who feed us. This is the Confucian way. Here at the retreat, Jake offers a very different admonition. “Don’t eat yourself into numbness. Allow yourself to culti- vate awareness and mindfulness about your mind-body process so that you can see how you feel while you eat.” In the dining hall of this silent retreat, I’m working to intro- duce myself to the feeling of being satisfied. I’m learning to say yes to more food without anxiety or shame, and to say no with- out fear of disappointing someone else.

    We are encouraged not to make direct eye contact with other practitioners as we eat in silence so we can focus on our own experiences. That privacy also makes me feel safe from the gaze of others on my plate. As a young girl, silence sometimes pro- tected me from my mother’s rage, but it was detrimental to my ability to feel and express my body’s needs. Here in the medita- tion hall, though, silence has given me the space I need to check in with my body and begin to ask it what it wants. “Are you hungry? Do you have physical hunger or emotional hunger? Do you feel full? Have you had enough?” It’s a challenging practice, yet one the merit of which I am slowly beginning to see. If I can remember during the retreat to eat for pleasure and sustenance, to taste each bite of food, perhaps I can do it at home too. “Our bodies often carry the stress, trauma, and burdens that filter in when we are not aware,” reminds Dee Dee. “We all suffer and carry somatic stress and trauma.” My Korean American body melds into the larger hall, a space filled with more diversity than I have ever encountered in a meditation center. This retreat full of people of color engaged in silent medita- tion has become a true sangha in which I am no longer a racial minority. People of color such as myself are simultaneously invisible or hyper-visible in the public eye; learning how to take up space and be seen in our full humanity is a radical, mind- altering, heart-opening experience. Throughout the daily dharma talks, our guides, all of whom are people of color them- selves, teach us that deep looking, settling into our bodies, and taking up space, both in the meditation hall and beyond, lead to the ability to more clearly see the constructs of race, gender, and sexuality imposed on us. These practices offer us the freedom and ability to relate differently to our experience. While this body may have been the object of violence and hatred in the past, through the breath I can return to the pres- ent. I can experience self-love and compassion in this very body, and I can be seen and heard in it and through it. I try to acknowledge, feel, and shed the light of awareness on my mem- ories and painful experiences, just as a lighthouse illuminates a path to shore for vessels at sea. Finally, I can begin to accept this body after years of trying to make it conform to something it was not. While there may still be rocky passages in these waters, at least a light has been turned on.

    SHARON SUH is a professor of theology and religious studies at Seattle University and the author of Silver Screen Buddha: Buddhism in Asian and Western Film.


    Lessons from a Wildfire

    When his community’s beloved retreat center

    burned to the ground, ANAM THUBTEN took

    it as a teaching on impermanence. Instead

    of futilely fighting loss, he says, let it be our

    invitation to freedom and spaciousness.

    • I N 2016, after more than two years of searching, my sangha found and purchased a beautiful retreat center in Big Sur, where we could practice together. There were several beauti-

    ful buildings on the land, and many ancient oak trees to provide shade and beauty. We spent the first half of 2016 preparing it for retreatants. A lovely couple moved in to one of the houses to act as caretakers. We shared dreams about the retreats we would enjoy there and how we would practice on the land.

    The Grand Illusion

    The Daoists have a saying: “There are ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows.” Though this is a profound and inescapable truth,

    Dana, the caretaker’s house at Sweetwater Sanctuary, before

    the fire.

    most of us only truly accept half of it. We welcome the joys, but we’re not so accommodating of the sorrows. Sorrow is normal and natural, but we see it as a problem we must solve. The problem isn’t sorrow, though; the problem is we don’t accept sorrow as a natural part of our lives. We try to escape it, to seek its opposite. And our attempts to escape inevitably create suffering. This

    That summer, I received a call from a dharma friend while I was in France. A wildfire was raging through Big Sur. The caretakers were evacuating. There was nothing we could do. We couldn’t stop the raging flames of the forest fire. We couldn’t turn back the elements of wind and heat. Our retreat center burned to the ground.


    The Soberanes Fire in California burned for eighty-two days and was, at the time, the most expensive wildfire to fight in U.S. history. This was the third day of the fire.

    suffering has nothing to do with our external circumstances. It doesn’t matter whether we’re healthy or sick, rich or poor, loved or alone. Suffering comes from our chronic psychological rest- lessness, which resists life as it is. When we get down to it, what we’re resisting isn’t just sor- row but change. If we’re not resisting the fact that our joy has turned to sorrow, we’re resisting the possibility that our joy may someday turn to sorrow. We want our joy to last forever, but we don’t have to look far to see that nothing lasts forever. Everything is falling apart; everything is changing. We can’t rely on wealth, friends, or comfort. We can’t even rely on our own bodies or minds. Deep down we know this, which is why

    we have so many insecure feelings throughout our life. The Buddha addressed this human conundrum in the four noble truths. He taught that craving is the root of suffering. We crave happiness, comfort, and ease, and we want to avoid their opposites. We crave security, for things to stay the same, to remain stable. This craving is what turns inevitable human sor- row into suffering, even when we’re blessed with favorable physi- cal conditions and circumstances. This collective pathology runs deep. Our craving for security is actually a craving for perma- nence, which is unattainable. At its root is the instinctual desire to survive, which has been physiologically and psychologically hard- wired into us over millions of years of human evolution.


    The fire destroyed fifty-seven homes and killed a bulldozer operator. This is some of the damage that Sweetwater Sanctuary sustained.

    We don’t like surprises either. We like to have everything under control, to force our lives to be predictable. But there’s no way to make things perfectly predictable, no real security. Security is a grand illusion. Paradoxically, our desire for security actually makes us insecure. It robs us of inner fulfillment, joy, and peace. It constricts us, closing our hearts so we can’t experience uncon- ditional love. We’re so afraid of losing our lives that we never truly live. We allow our desire for security to become a prison.

    Embodied Attention

    To address this deep grasping, we can engage in a practice the Buddha taught called embodied attention. This is the practice of looking deeply into everything—without bias, without preconceived notions, without fear, without resistance. It is a way of simply paying attention to pure experience. When we inquire into the nature of our own embodied experience, into the nature of our bodies, minds, and emotions, the truth of impermanence is revealed. It becomes clear that there is no

    certainty, no permanence, only flow and change. This timeless truth pervades everything. We can wake up and realize—not just in our heads but in our hearts, in every cell of our bodies— that everything is transient, that everything is conditioned and impermanent, that there’s not one single condition we can hold onto, no matter how much we love or cherish it. That realiza- tion can help us to come out from underneath the burden of our fear, our ambition, our greed, our hatred. When we feel insecure, we are actually touching an impor- tant truth. The Buddha said, “There are many footprints, yet the footprints of the great elephant are the most supreme. There are many teachings, yet the teaching on impermanence is the

    best.” Of all Buddhist teachings, the teaching on impermanence is the truest. It is so true it’s not even a doctrine. It’s not a set of concepts developed by somebody a long time ago. The truth of impermanence does not belong to any one religion or tradition. It’s just how things are. There is not one thing in the universe that can be shown to last. A moment of insecurity is an opportunity, an invitation to let go and take refuge in the truth of impermanence. When we feel insecure, though, we tend to cling even tighter to our desire for permanence. When we do that, we squander the opportu- nity. By allowing ourselves to withdraw or contract in the face of insecurity, we miss the fullness of life. In our fear, we forget that a lack of security is not always a bad thing. Insecurity has two sides. One side is the truth of inevitable loss. This is the side we resist. But the other side is the truth of freedom and growth. We often overlook or forget this side of impermanence, but if we really think about it, we may see we don’t want to be stuck with any condition. We need change. A famous Sufi myth tells of a powerful but unhappy king who summoned a group of wise men and commanded them to create a ring that would relieve his misery and make him happy. After conferring together, the wise men presented the king with a ring inscribed with the phrase “This too shall pass.” When things are difficult, it can be helpful to remember the phrase “This too shall pass.” It serves as a reminder that imper- manence is the one thing we can truly rely on. In that sense, our insecurity is sacred, even wise. If we can remember that impermanence doesn’t only impact the good circumstances we’re attached to but also the unfavorable circumstances we struggle with, whatever we’re going through becomes much more bearable. We can see the seeds of sorrow’s demise, even as it unfolds. After many years on the Buddhist path, I find myself continually returning to this most liberating, most authentic reflection, which cuts through all illusions. It’s so egalitarian.

    The fire began as an illegal campfire in Garrapata State Park. These are before and after shots of a Buddha in the sanctuary garden.

    Every human being, regardless of back- ground or beliefs, can engage with this reflection and experience amazing free- dom and unconditional joy. The message that “this too shall pass”

    also has the power to sober us up when we get caught up in ego- istic tendencies, such as escapism, denial, false transcendence, or grasping onto beautiful illusions that do not take us anywhere. Even happiness itself can become a burden. When we experience false bliss, it can be easy to hide out in our own happiness and become self-centered and narcissistic. In Buddhist texts, this is called the demon of elation. This feeling can be delicious, just like sugar. But like sugar, it is unhealthy. To reflect on impermanence at such times is akin to eating a balanced meal. It undermines the tendency toward escapism, false transcendence, and denial. Impermanence is universal and timeless.

    Insecurity as Transcendence

    The loss of our retreat center in Big Sur was a profound teaching for me, even more profound than the Buddha’s own words. When we find ourselves completely powerless in the face of nature’s wrath, there is nothing left to do but surrender to the truth of things, to give in to a state of not knowing. This is the profound side of insecurity. If we let go into the truth that nothing can ultimately be relied upon, that no one thing in this universe lasts forever, even our own bodies, there is something left. It is a kind of groundless ground, the emptiness that pervades the fullness of things. The Buddha called it dharmata, the spacious expanse.

    Live Like a Dead Man

    The mahasiddhas, eighty-four great enlightened masters of India, described transcendence as the feeling of being dead. That may sound strange, but imagine you could live your life as a dead person. Because you would have nothing to lose, you’d probably be quite happy. You wouldn’t care what people said about you. You wouldn’t care how you look. You would never look in the mirror in the morning and think, “I have too many wrinkles on my forehead.” Once, while reading an English dictionary, I came across the word “mortify,” a

    After the fire, only the chimney remained of the caretaker’s house.

    derivative of mors, the Latin word for death. It suggests someone is embarrassed to the point of dying. The example sentence said, “She was mortified to discover wrinkles on her forehead.” I found the example sentence very funny. None of us will be mortified by anything when we’re dead, least of all a few wrinkles. Although they were very much alive, the mahasiddhas lived their lives as though they were dead. Like dead men and women, they lost their fear and self-vanity, and lived in joy in each and every moment. They didn’t need anything. They didn’t need praise. They didn’t need recognition. They didn’t care about criticism and blame. Nothing perturbed them. This metaphor is not only extraordinarily useful, offering us a visual and original way to understand transcendence, it also points to the strong connection between the truth of our mor- tality and enlightenment. We can find true transcendence in reflecting on the ephemeral nature of things. Such reflection is not about escaping from your life, but rather a deep immersion into everything: life, existence, birth, death.

    In the Prajnaparamita Sutra, this idea is expressed in the phrase “Emptiness is form.” That means we can find spacious- ness, transcendence, right within the realm of form. We can find liberation, dharma, awakening right within the imperma- nent manifestation of our lives, in our fleeting existence. The forms that are so impermanent and transient invite us—by virtue of their inevitable demise—into a relationship with free- dom and spaciousness. We don’t have to wait for enlightenment to come to us. We don’t have to create it. We can enter into enlightenment simply by allowing everything to fall apart, until all that’s left is spacious- ness. If we have enough confidence that “this too shall pass,” we can begin to live as though it already has. We can surrender everything before it’s gone, until no hope and no fear remain.

    ANAM THUBTEN is the founder and spiritual advisor of Dharmata

    Foundation and teaches widely in the U.S. and abroad. His books include

    Embracing Each Moment.

    Destinations of Desire

    from The Lost Traveler’s Tour Guide

    Travel isn’t always as “spiritual” as we hope. ANDREW WEINSTEIN o ers these

    realistic travel tips about some unreal destinations.


    The Markets of Bhodur


    carved sculptures and left them in temples as offerings to the gods. They memorized the faces of the local nymphs who frequented their lakes and the gods of thunder who rolled over their mountains, and they spent months carv- ing the visages into sandalwood and stone. It was only due to the curiosity of wandering backpackers that these treasures were discovered by the West. Do you have another one of these? visitors asked, lifting an effigy from a temple alter. Bhodur’s artisans sent word home to sisters, broth- ers, uncles, and aunts to produce more effigies and soon found they could earn money for their family by selling statues along the roadside. Artisans migrated from the mountains to erect makeshift booths for their wares, while others rolled out food carts, and farmers left their fields and moved to the city to make their fortunes in its open-air markets and collectable shops.

    The artisans lay out their wares in the

    morning light, hoping to fulfill our

    desires, all of us wishing for something

    much better.

    Indeed, in Bhodur, you can find blankets dyed with the bloodroot of sunset and the foxglove of mountains. Every stall in Bhodur glows with objects lined up for sale. They shimmer as we wander from shop to shop, seeking to stock our suitcases with exotic riches. At every stall, intricately carved statues can be found for a fraction of what they’d cost back home, and we walk away with glass beads, silver brace- lets, and coffee tables inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Bhodur has quickly become a destination for our merchants to stock boutiques back home, and they fill shipping containers so as to sell treasures to those of us who are too poor to purchase a plane ticket but rich enough to buy a tapestry.

    But, before you book your tickets or purchase an extra suitcase, it’s worth knowing that Bhodur’s craftsmanship always contains an imperfection. According to the artisans, the gods themselves are flawed, and so their wares contain a slight fault: their clothing has a frayed thread, their stat- ues a chip where a guided chisel fell, and their bracelets a dent from an imprecise bevel. One finds travelers inspect- ing artifacts with disappointment, shaking their heads as they pick up a singing bowl engraved with the face of a local nymph. Do you have one without a mistake, they ask, pointing to the dent. Come back tomorrow, the artists promise, we’ll have one with no faults. And so, commerce has become Bhodur’s lifeblood as tour buses clog its smog-filled roads, blaring pop music and scenic descriptions, while its artisans sit along the roadsides, working tirelessly to carve the faces of their gods for our walls at home. They lay out their wares in the morning light, hoping to fulfill our desires, all of us wish- ing for something much better.

    The Land of Bent

    WHICHEVER GOD CREATED the topography of Bent must have had the temperament of a drunk. For, here and there, caper bushes are thrown sporadically along road- sides; olive trees rise without warning; forests of fir, aspen, and cypress emerge like mistakes; and just when you’ve got- ten a handle on that, a field of wild strawberries emerges, a tall cherry tree in bloom, or a kumquat bush squats in the middle of a square as if on a whim. No wonder the poetry of Bent speaks of God as a barfly, or that the town should be filled with taverns and wineries more readily than tem- ples and courthouses. Maybe it’s this bacchanal flamboyance that explains why in Bent’s summer months visitors can experience one of the world’s most unusual weather patterns. From June to September, during dusk’s final moments, the sky over Bent turns a deep violet, and then, like stars emerging, objects begin to materialize in the air. Spoons and forks, serv- ing trays and doilies, blenders and cookware all float high above, ready for the taking. In summer, whole houses can be furnished by climbing the tallest hill and reaching out. Children scoop comic books and gaming consoles from the

    Everything we’ve ever wanted is

    floating above us, so close to our

    grasp we need only reach out toward

    the pleasures, every one of them

    guaranteed to bring us sorrow.

    clouds, and on many a midsummer’s eve, one sees men and women with fishing poles casting their lures aloft to reel in sofas and coffee tables. How does this phenomenon occur? Unfortunately, we cannot tell you—we’re guidebook writers, after all, not scien- tists—but suffice it to say that cooling air descends and heat rises and ionized particles solidify, and so on and so forth, until the air above Bent begins to produce washing machines for the taking. Tourism continues to flourish, and come mid- May, crowds flock to the mountains to secure the best spots. Those hoping to be the first to pull in toaster ovens and flat- screen televisions take to camping on hills weeks before the season begins, and they arrive with extra suitcases and ship- ping containers, prepared to fill their houses. But be forewarned: autumn is a time of great loss. The items produced by this unusual phenomenon melt like spring snow when summer ends, and each object captured from the sky dissolves back into the air. One feels the first cold breeze, and we watch our silverware and desk lamps disappear. Opening our cabinets, we discover all the towels gone. A child riding his bicycle finds himself on the sidewalk; our new laptop vanishes in the middle of an important email; and homes filled with hot tubs and KitchenAid mixers reveal empty sockets where the appliances once stood. Many say it would be best to never climb the hills in those summer months. Better to leave the floating treasures high above, their chrome catching the setting sun, their crystal casting prisms of light onto our faces. Locals suggest staying indoors or traveling abroad during the season, and customs officials remind us not to fill our luggage with free knickknacks subject to import duty. But who can resist the summer hills when evening presents its items so readily? Everything we’ve ever wanted is floating above us, so close to our grasp we need only reach out toward the pleasures, every one of them guaranteed to bring us sorrow.

    The Spas of Luxore

    IF YOU’VE ALREADY BOOKED your tickets to Luxore,

    you’re certainly familiar with its hot stone massages and mudpack facials, its bamboo palaces where organic buffets are piled high, its yoga studios where gurus liberate us from worldly desires, and its oceanfront bars that serve lychee- nut cocktails and rum drinks. Travel to the city requires rail transportation (plans for a private airport are scheduled to begin this spring) and we recommend purchasing first-class tickets with sleeping cabins, bathrooms, and access to the dining car. The added expense is well worth it, since second- and third-class cab- ins are filled with locals and livestock, providing no facili- ties for relieving oneself other than a hole through which one can see the tracks below.

    Although the remaining tribes

    claim their sacred Quxtchol berry is

    disappearing, there’s always plenty

    of the fruit at our eco-spa bu ets.

    The drive from the station to Luxore’s gates isn’t scenic. Dogs scratch themselves against shacks, families roast corn- cobs over burning trash, while children, no older than our own, play in a river choked by garbage. There are beggars crouched by our cabs’ exhaust fumes, their hands extended toward our window for coins. We recommend focusing on your guidebook instead. Read about the tantric retreats at the island’s westernmost end, or the benefits of pranayama breathing, until your taxi passes through the eco-village’s gates, where a breeze blows across the balconies, carrying the scent of sandalwood and papaya. And while you may have heard reports regarding the city’s stench—a smell so rank that tai chi classes had to be postponed—we’re happy to report that the problem has been solved by the installation of wind turbines, which blow the rancid air back where it came.

    Visitors should stop in The Hotel Sebastiaõ’s lobby, which displays one of the country’s most impressive murals. The mosaic presents a scene of local children playing in the fields, and speaks to the spirit of the native people, whose surviving artists were hired to work in the sugar factories. For those interested in learning more about indigenous tribes, hotels offer day trips to villages, where actors costumed as tribes- men reenact native life. Guests can watch women and chil- dren engaged in woodcutting, basket weaving, and jewelry making (all available for purchase from the gift shop) with traditional dances performed on Thursdays and Fridays. We’d be remiss if our description failed to mention the Quxtchol berry, used for thousands of years in healing rit- uals, and most recently featured in our fashion and health magazines. The berry has proven beneficial for anti-aging, beauty, and pharmaceutical interests, and international corporations have employed locals to harvest the berries. Although the remaining tribes claim their fruit is disap- pearing, there are always plenty of Quxtchol berries at our eco-spa buffets. As for travelers interested in witnessing the ancient harvest dance, it’s reenacted every Monday and Wednesday at the Visitors Center where colored beads are used in place of the berries. If you’re like most visitors, you’ll be charmed by the friendliness of locals, who serve you food at the hotels, clean the pools, trim hedges, and sing their traditional songs while sweeping terraces. Indeed, one of Luxore’s greatest gifts turns out not to be its hot oil baths, its Zumba classes, or its superfood smoothies, but the smiles of the people we meet who sell us their most sacred art. How simple yet beautiful their lives are. How inspirational to witness their joy amid such extreme poverty. It’s their grati- tude that teaches us to be grateful for the pleasures we have in life. We count our blessings as our massages begin.

    ALEXANDER WEINSTEIN is the director of The Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and author of the short story collection Children of the New World.



    You’re the Cook

    In life, you’re given certain ingredients, says EDWARD ESPE BROWN. So when are you going to get cooking?


    waste of time, and you will find the task tedious—so tiresome that you will probably not even get into the kitchen! See cooking as an opportunity to develop new skills, to learn as you go, to nourish and feed yourself, family, and friends, and your activity in the kitchen will likely flourish. Shift from your head to your heart and hands, your body and being, and you will tend to discover connection, a home ground for purify- ing your love, moments of meeting the Beloved, and opportunities for further renewal. What are you doing with your life? How will you choose to see things? Often we characterize activities with all-embracing designations. Cooking is tiresome. Meditation is boring. Psy- chedelics are mind-altering. Surfing is a blast. Rock climbing is invigorating. A massage is relaxing. Sex is heavenly.

    Whatever we characterize with blanket descriptions, Suzuki Roshi reminded us, “It’s not always so.” At least as important as the activity itself is what we implicitly bring with us when we move into action: the way we see the world and how we go about doing things. Yes, we take to some activities and not to others. Yet one most basic point of emphasis in Zen (and Buddhism) is that when we think our happiness depends on manipulating our activities to maximize the pleasurable ones and minimize those we find unpleasant, we will suffer. Because it’s an inherently flawed strategy—it cannot be accomplished. The dishes remain unwashed and continue to stare back at you. As you attempt to increase the positive moments and decrease the negative ones, you put yourself in the passive position of being powerless as experiences inflict themselves upon you. How then will you

    stand your ground with some strength and equanimity, digesting the various moments of your life? The important shift here is to value the darkness as well as your capacity to develop skills to handle whatever the moment brings and to get to work—or start cook- ing, as it were. In other words, work means not just work in the world. You will also be working on how you see things, on what kind of effort you make, on whether or not you persevere. The activity is not in charge. You are. You have choice. Sure, sometimes you turn to do something else. Yet other times you get to work, you work through it, you see it through, and in the process, you undergo transformation. If cooking is “tiresome,” then while you are thinking that “this cooking is tiresome,” you will probably not notice any of the aspects of cooking that might


    be engaging, beautiful, or ener- gizing. You will probably cook in a repetitive manner, completing assigned tasks without any sense of curiosity or discovery, without truly engaging your life-force energy, without understand- ing how to bring your body and spirit alive in the kitchen. In other words, cooking will be tire- some because you are doing it in a tiresome way. You’re only put- ting in your time until you can get to somewhere your aware- ness can be carried along, or if all goes well, swept away. Often then, when you return to the

    HOT OFF THE PRESS be engaging, beautiful, or ener- gizing. You will probably cook in a

    Cooking as Spiritual Practice

    By Edward Espe Brown

    Sounds True; 248 pp. $17.95 (paper)

    rest of your life, it can seem even grayer—because you still have more to learn about how to meet and engage the ingredients of life. If meditation is “boring,” who said that? Who must be busy looking elsewhere for more energizing experiences rather than entering more deeply into the moment as it is? Who is not finding the way to connect what is inside with what is outside and instead is wishing for salvation or escape, whether it be in the form of the proverbial sex, drugs, and rock and roll or the allures of entertainment or enlightenment? Who is it that pre- fers something big and powerful to provide a sense of flight (or at least height) to coming to a standstill and having to be with oneself? And who might agree to work with this seemingly inad- equate self? With careful examination, perhaps you realize that you are a great candidate for this work of re-parenting yourself, of becoming your own best friend. Boredom can be a precursor to more intimately engaging with the present moment. Instead of busily dismissing the moment with a condescending, “Hey, meditation, you don’t do it for me,” you shift to, “What more can I find out? Is there something I’m missing? Tell me more.” You open, or allow, for something bigger. While you are busy being bored—that is, not finding the excitement and stimulation you are looking for—often you will not be noticing how much you are abandoning yourself in the process. While you are busy looking elsewhere, what is apparent is not yet realized. Realization is everywhere. And you? Where are you spending your time? Daydreaming about being elsewhere? Or digging in and finding the black dragon jewel exactly here. Naturally we find some activities uplifting and others trouble- some, but we will discover more freedom for ourselves when we do not make universal statements that leave us out of the equation. When we realize that the things we do are not just things but our behavior, then we may also realize we have the power to change our life by changing the way we do things rather than what we do.

    I know that changing what we do— breaking out of unsatisfying relation- ships or leaving jobs that don’t value our gifts—can also be an important life task, but when it’s our only option, we’re probably limiting our choices. Wherever you go, there you are, so finally, we’re deciding if where we are is a good place to work on our problems, to develop new skills or tools, or “to have the right kind of trouble.” Finding the space where you can learn and grow, entering the space where you can belong rather than just fit in means that your life can go forward. You are bringing the sacred alive. Baking bread may seem like it’s too much work, but as one of my students once shared, “Baking bread seemed like a way to re-own my life from corporate America.”


    what is outside, the inner world with the outer one, is the work of a lifetime, work that is often carried on deep beneath the

    surface of a world of surfaces. In outer reality, where images loudly shout their self-importance and claim undue amounts of attention, where will you choose to put your attention? On crafting your image? Or working with the ingredients you’re given, doing what you came here to do? Suzuki Roshi would ask us to discover, “What is your inmost request?” Still I continue to study how to awaken ears to hear what is most intimate, to listen to the oceanic silence within. That I may follow that innermost unspoken resolve. That I may give it voice. Giving voice to our inmost request is pivotal for giving it life. Then we can make it real for all the world to see. Then the world comes for- ward to meet your inner vow. Over the years, I have found one inmost request after another—and often my practice has been to work on these intentions in the kitchen:

    I want to learn how to bake bread and

    teach others how.

    • I want to breathe easy.

    • I want to feel simply and reliably

    okay about being here, being at home

    here. Whether or not I have problems or difficulties.

    • I wish for intimate connection with

    others, with food, with the work at hand.

    • I long to sense what is sacred, calm, clear, and precious.

      • I want to stand my ground. Speak my

    truth. I will learn to love myself, oth- ers, and the world the way I have always wanted to be loved. Spiritual work in this context means giving voice to what is innermost and con- necting that to the outer world. We are called to be even larger-hearted than we could possibly imagine. Loving what is less than perfect. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

    Excerpted from No Recipe: Cooking as Spiritual Practice, by Edward Espe Brown. Reprinted with permission from Sounds True.

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    Ordination, Love, and Monastic Zen in Japan

    By Gesshin Claire Greenwood

    Wisdom Publications 2018; 264 pp., $17.95 (paper)


    A Buddhist Approach to Finding Certainty Beyond Belief and Doubt

    By Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

    Shambhala Publications 2018; 160 pp., $16.95 (paper)

    If I were a betting woman, I’d wager that Gesshin Greenwood will be at the forefront of the next generation of Buddhist teachers in the West. In Bow First, Ask Questions Later, Greenwood gives an unflinchingly honest account of her spiritual trajectory. Perhaps best of all, though she has done a lot of very serious practice, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Greenwood spent six years practic- ing as a nun at temples in Japan and offers readers a fascinat- ing window into that demanding world. In 2015, she received dharma transmission from Seido Suzuki Roshi and in 2017, while still in her twenties, she was granted the title of osho, or teacher, in the Soto Zen school. Greenwood has deeply consid- ered the nature and purpose of practice, the lived experience of the precepts, the significance of lineage, and the place where happiness meets the great matter of life and death.

    When Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel started teaching on faith, most Bud- dhists weren’t interested. They dis- missed faith, she says, as being blind, fundamentalist, disempowering, and “the mentality my grandmother had.” Yet Namgyel felt strongly that faith—with its dynamic relation- ship with doubt—was a meaty topic, and she finally got people to engage with it by giving her inquiry a fresh, more rebellious name: “the F-word!” In The Logic of Faith, Namgyel explores the many and contra- dictory definitions of faith, as well as the lived experience of it. She argues that there’s a middle way between the extremes of faith and doubt, and that finding it is the way to compassion and liberation. At the core of this book is one of Buddhism’s most important and complex insights: pratityasamutpada, dependent arising, which means that nothing—in the realm of consciousness or matter— stands on its own, independent of other elements.

    wisdom & insight

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    Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age

    By Antonia Macaro

    Icon Books 2018; 208 pp., $19.95 (cloth)

    Antonia Macaro doesn’t identify as either a Buddhist or a Stoic. But despite her reservations about them, she has been shaped by these traditions. Though Buddhism and Stoicism are distinct philosophies, there are historical reasons to suspect cross fertilization, and they have striking parallels. Both, for example, emphasize the importance of seeing things clearly, engaging in ethical action, and shedding material attachments. Both assert that we suffer because of our delusions and grasp- ing and offer a way out of our suffering. Macaro notes that Buddhism and Stoicism have each significantly contributed to modern therapy practices and suggests other ways the tradi- tions could enrich our lives. She’s fully aware that Buddhism isn’t one monolithic thing, and neither is Stoicism. The Bud- dhism she unpacks in More Than Happiness is a composite grounded heavily in early Buddhism. The Stoicism she draws out is generally of the Romans.

    By Andrea Miller


    By Charles Johnson

    Scribner 2018; 192 pp., $24 (cloth)

    Charles Johnson deftly weaves the funny with the philosophi- cal. Many of the stories in his new collection, Night Hawks, have a strong Buddhist underpinning and several were originally pub- lished in Lion’s Roar. “Prince of the Ascetics,” for instance, is a retelling of the Buddha’s journey to enlight- enment. What makes it fresh is that it’s told from the point of view of one of the five ascetics who practiced austerities with the Buddha for six years, and his voice is human and relatable. The narrator has dedicated himself to banishing his ego and finding freedom from illusion, yet he’s wrapped up in petty jealousy and striving. What is his first thought after the Buddha achieves enlightenment? “These rich kids have all the luck.” Johnson is also the MacArthur Award- winning author of Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice and the novel Middle Passage.



    By Bhante Gunaratana

    Wisdom Publications 2017; 640 pp., $39.95 (cloth)


    Create A Livelihood That Reflects Your Core Intention

    By Maia Duerr

    Parallax Press 2017; 238 pp., $18.95 (paper)

    After ordaining as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka when he was twelve, Bhante Gunaratana eventually went on to become the founding abbot of the Bhavana Society, which preserves the Theravada forest meditation tradition within the context of Western culture. Now, to mark Bhante Gunaratana’s ninetieth birthday, Wisdom Publications has released a comprehensive collection of his bestselling, plain- English teachings on mindfulness. This volume brings together the full texts of three beloved books: Mindfulness in Plain Eng- lish, which is a straightforward but thorough introduction to vipassana, or insight meditation; The Four Foundations of Mind- fulness in Plain English, which explores the Satipatthana Sutta, a teaching given by the Buddha on mindfulness of the body, feelings, mind, and dhamma; and Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English, which sheds light on concentration practices. Bhante Gunaratana’s teaching style is direct and compassionate.

    Adamant that she would not end up in a job she hated, Maia Duerr gave careful thought to her career options. Finally—after considering her skills and interests—she decided that music therapy was the perfect career for her. Ten years later, how- ever, she had to admit that she was disillusioned and unhappy. Duerr was eventually able to shift into a fulfilling career, and now she helps others do the same. As she explains in Work That Matters, there are six key steps to discovering how to make a living in a way that’s deeply satisfying: (1) Become inti- mate with your core intention, (2) Value your gifts and time, (3) Break through inertia and take action, (4) Make friends with uncertainty, (5) Think big and make the most of your

    resources, and (6) Build a circle of allies and ask for help. Work That Matters is the contemplative, deeper version of What Color Is Your Parachute?


    A Tibetan Guide to Love & Sex

    By Gendun Chopel, Translated by Donald S. Lopez Jr. and Thupten Jinpa

    The University of Chicago Press 2018; 160 pp., $19 (paper)


    Zen Lessons from the Garden on Contemplative Design

    By Martin Hakubai Mosko and Alxe Noden

    Shambhala Publications 2018; 160 pp., $16.95 (paper)

    A fascinating iconoclast from Tibet, Gendun Chopel was born in 1903 as the British were preparing to invade his homeland. Early in life, he was identified as the incarnation of a lama and ordained as a monk. Eventually, he went to India, where he wandered for over a decade, often alone and impoverished. In India, he abandoned his monastic vows, wrote some of the most remarkable Tibetan poetry of the twentieth century, and studied classical Indian erotic texts. Since erotic literature was virtually unknown in Tibet, Gendun Chopel wrote some him- self. His material was based not only on his study of Indian sources, but also on his own experience. After having lived for years as a celibate monk, Gendun Chopel was a passionate lover and fascinated by the idea of bodily bliss transforming into buddhahood. Upon Gendun Chopel’s return to Tibet, he was arrested on trumped up charges of treason and imprisoned. He died in 1951 as Chinese troops marched into Lhasa.

    The Sound of Cherry Blossoms is focused on garden design, but the ideas presented in this book can be applied to any discipline or activ- ity—even to the whole of our lives. The fundamental concept is “joining Heaven and Earth,” a Confucian principle central to Chögyam Trungpa’s Shambhala teachings. In this context, heaven is the mind—not ego mind but rather big mind, which is curious, innocent, and without self-reference. Earth, in contrast, is everything in the material realm—form and structure. When Heaven and Earth meet in balance, it’s a harmonious marriage of the spiritual and the mundane. In garden design, the result of joining Heaven and Earth is an uplifted space where we can experience ourselves as we are and awaken to the extraordinary nature of ordinary experience. A garden reflects the truth of impermanence. In its growth and decay, birth and death, stillness and movement, we can see our own ever-changing nature.




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    • 4300 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029. (323) 665-4300,

    Fax: (323) 665-4404, service@againstthestream.org, www. againstthestream.org • Founded by Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx, Against The Stream has two centers in Los Angeles and Santa Monica offering weekly classes, daylong retreats, and special class series.


    • 2701 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110. bayarea@again-

    stthestream.org, www.againstthestream.org • Meditation center in the Mission offers weekly classes, daylongs, class series and residential retreats.


    PO Box 279, Junction City, CA 96048. (530) 623-2714,

    FAX: (530) 623-6709, sangha@chagdudgonpa.org, www. chagdudgonpa.org • Nyingma Buddhist center in serene Northern California Alps. Founded by Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Daily meditation; teaching and retreat pro- grams; individual retreat facilities.


    • 1025 S Cloverdale Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019. (323) 934-

    0330, info@dharmazen.com, www.dharmazen.com • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 2200 Parker St, Berkeley, CA 94704. (510) 845-8565, info@

    emptygatezen.com, www.emptygatezen.com • Clear teach- ing, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled prac- tice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 1430 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404. (310) 450-

    1821, www.insightla.org • InsightLA offers classes, sitting groups, retreats and special events dedicated to opening minds and hearts. Buddhist wisdom inspires all our pro- grams in Vipassana meditation and secular-mindfulness education in Los Angeles.


    • 3724 Summit Dr, Mt. Shasta, CA 96067. (530) 926-4208,

    Fax: (530) 926-0428, guestmaster@shastaabbey.org, www. shastaabbey.org • A Soto Zen monastery in Northern California. Retreats, residential training, meditation, reli- gious services, teaching, spiritual counseling. Around 25 male and female monks.



    89480 Nelson Mountain Rd, Walton, OR 97490. (541) 228- 5372, bigbearcamporegon@gmail.com, bigbearcamp.org • We welcome small group retreats. Exquisite facilities in a beauti- ful Oregon coast range forest setting. Lodge, yurts, indoor/ outdoor kitchens, hiking trails. All traditions welcome.


    Meditation & Well Being 767 E. Main St. John Day, Oregon

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    • 46 Stoller Road, Trout Lake, WA 98650. (509) 395-2030,

    www.mtadamszen.org • We are a small farm temple in the Vietnamese Thien tradition. Metta, Loving Kindness & med- itation are our primary practices. We call ourselves practic- ing “laughing farmer Zen”. We can provide space for 1 week – 3 month personal retreats. Located at Trout Lake Abbey.


    c/o Michael Schutzler 9131 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98136. info@oceanlightzen.org, www. oceanlightzen.org • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly sched- uled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    http://portland.mindful.community • In the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh; weekly meditation groups, days of mindfulness and overnight retreats


    692 Country Lane, Newport, WA 99156. (509) 447 5549,

    office.sravasti@gmail.com, www.sravasti.org • A Buddhist

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    Deming, NM 88030. (575) 545-7613, nogate@gmail.com, www.facebook.com/demingzen • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    PO Box 159 Crestone, CO 81131. 1-877-DHARMA-9, Fax:

    (303) 265-9793, info@dharmaocean.org, www.dharma- ocean.org. • Retreats led by founder Reggie Ray and other teachers; Vajrayana/body-based meditation. Solitary retreat cabin. Center available for rent to contemplative groups.


    PO Box 131, Gardner, CO 81040. (719) 746-2264, dkd@ shambhala.org, www.shambhala.org/centers/dkd • Solitary cabin meditation retreats in rural mountain setting. Retreat caretakers on site 24/7. Open all year. See web site for retreat guidelines and cabin tour.


    • 40 Lorien Rd, Questa, NM 87556; mail: HC 81 Box 6017,

    Questa, NM 87556 Hilece (575) 586-1454, gabrielle.herb-

    ertson@gmail.com, earthjourney.org • Tibetan Buddhist stupa, campsites, bathhouse, retreat houses, meditation building, labyrinth, weekly practices, frequently visiting teachers, individual and group retreats welcome.


    PO Box 807, Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557. (575) 758-0633, hermitage@mountainhermitage.org, www.mountainhermit- age.org • Grounded in the Theravada lineage. Vipassana, concentration, Brahma Vihara, creative process, and personal

    retreat for up to one month for experienced students. Special scholarship rates for those who could not otherwise attend. Marcia Rose, Guiding Teacher, with various visiting teachers.


    PO Box 11084, Scottsdale, AZ 85271-1084. (480) 947-6101 •

    Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly sched- uled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 1900 South Cook St, Denver, CO 80210. (720) 353-4419,

    Fax: (877) 799-2941, info@pmctr.org, www.pmctr.org • Tibetan Buddhist meditation center under the direction of Chhoje Tulku Rinpoche, a Nyingma/Kagyu master. Free Thursday meditation at 7pm.


    PO Box 3040, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. (970) 731-3711, info@taramandala.org, www.taramandala.org • A vibrant inter- national Tibetan Buddhist Community with groups around the world founded by Lama Tsultrim Allione. The hub of the com- munity is the 700-acre retreat center in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, offering group and private long term solitary retreats.


    • 1404 Cerro Gordo Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87501. (505) 986-

    8518, upaya@upaya.org, www.upaya.org • A Zen Buddhist

    practice center, offering Chaplaincy and Resident pro- grams, meditation retreats, End-of-Life Care and other trainings for socially engaged Buddhism.


    PO Box 4433, Santa Fe, NM 87502. (505) 989-8303, refuge@

    vallecitos.org, www.vallecitos.org • Meditation retreats in a gorgeous natural setting in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. May to October. Hermitage. Events. Rentals.


    Location: Chaiya Meditation Monastery, 7925 Virtue Court Las Vegas, NV 89113. (702) 293-4222, zencenteroflasvegas@ gmail.com, www.zenlasvegas.com • Tues. and Thurs. 6:30 pm, Sunday mornings 8:30 am. Beginners orientation on the first Monday of each month. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.



    • 1922 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago IL 60613. info@ancient-

    dragon.org, www.ancientdragon.org • Soto Zen meditation practice with Taigen Dan Leighton: Author, scholar, and Dharma teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki.


    • 8218 County Rd 204, Annapolis, MO 63620. (573) 604-1481,

    info@dhammasukha.org, www.dhammasukha.org • 7–14

    day TWIM Retreats in Spring/Summer/Fall, Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation. Attaining awakening through the practice of Metta/Loving-kindness and the Brahmaviharas following the earliest Buddhist Suttas. Beautiful forest setting. Quick progress with daily interviews.


    861 Clay St, Woodstock, IL 60098. (815) 236-2511, dharmaflowerzen@gmail.com, www.facebook.com/dhar- maflowerzen • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 1721 South 81st St., West Allis, WI 53214. info@glzc.org,

    www.glzc.org • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us

    for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    W7762 Falk Rd., Monroe, WI 53566 (608) 325-6248. gpzc@greatplainszen.org www.greatplainszen.org • Sunday evening zazen in Palatine, IL. Daily schedule, monthly ses- shin in Monroe, WI. Classes for adults and children. White Plum Asanga. Zen Peacemaker Order. Teacher: Susan Myoyu Andersen, Roshi.


    • 2649 County 5, Eitzen, MN 55937. (507) 542-4968, hokyo-

    ji@hokyoji.org, www.hokyoji.org • Soto-style Zen and mind- fulness practice on 105 wooded acres; offering daily zazen and services, retreats, practice periods, and personal retreats.


    • 3703 Washington Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46205. (317) 921-

    9902, director@indyzen.org, www.indyzen.org • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 1715 Hill St., Room 170, Madison, WI 53705. (608) 221-

    3379, info@isthmuszencommunity.org, isthmuszencom- munity.org • Offering evening Zen practice and instruction and regularly scheduled retreats in a warm, welcoming, and compassionate community. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 1423 New York St, Lawrence, KS 66044. kansaszencenter@

    gmail.com, www.kansaszencenter.org • Zen Master Bon Hae (Judy Roitman), Zen Master Hae Kwang (Stan Lombardo). Regularly scheduled practice, retreats, and classes in Lawrence. Affiliated group meets Tuesday eve- nings in Kansas City. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 2344 N Oakland Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211-4322. (414)

    277-8020, shambhalamke@gmail.com, www.milwaukee. shambhala.org • Explore our diverse programs designed to help people of all traditions discover their inherent good- ness, gentleness and humor.


    www.prairyerthzen.org • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. Visit our website for a schedule. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 700 West Pennway, Kansas City, MO 64108. (816) 471-

    7073, info@rimecenter.org, www.rimecenter.org • Executive Director Gabriele Otto, Spiritual Director Lama Matthew Rice. Meets: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday class/ meditation, 7pm., Sundays,service/practice, 10:30 am.


    PO Box 304, Alma, KS 66401. tallgrasszen@yahoo.com, www.tallgrasszen.blogspot.com • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    c/o director@tendirectionszen.org ,www.tendirectionszen. org • Meditation practice Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm at the Theosophical Society building,1926 North Main Street Wheaton, IL 60187


    • 706 N 1st St, Ste 112, Minneapolis, MN 55401. (612) 460-

    8837, minneapolis@tergar.org, www.tergar.org • Tuesday meditation 7 pm; check website for other centers and pro- gram dates. Summer retreats in NE, NW and MN.


    • 1330 Ridge Ave, Evanston IL 60201, (847)475-3264, udum-

    bara@udumbarazen.org, www.udumbarazen.org • Regular zazen practice and study schedule; Bodhisattva, chaplaincy, priest training/ordination; Head Teacher Sensei Tricia Teater.


    38 Lake St, Oak Park, IL 60302. (708) 689-1220, www.ZLMC. org • Offering a comprehensive core curriculum for living a Zen-inspired life of openness, empathy and clarity. Teachers:

    Roshi Robert Joshin Althouse, Sensei June Ryushin Tanoue.


    • 1599 Halsell Rd, Fayetteville, AR 72701-3902. (479) 530-

    1098, btaylor@uark.edu, www.morningstarzencenter.org • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly sched- uled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    c/o Claudia Schippert, 515 S Crystal Lake Dr, Orlando, FL

    32803. (407) 897-3685, orlandozencenter@gmail.com, www. orlandozen.com • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.



    PO Box 16302, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. (919) 967-0861, info@chzc.org, www.chzc.org • A Soto Zen temple with daily meditation in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Teacher: Josho Pat Phelan.


    • 647 McDonnell Dr, Tallahassee, FL 32310. ctzg@webdhar-

    ma.com, www.webdharma.com/ctzg • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 2010 Naomi St Ste. A, Houston, TX 77054. (713) 630-0354,

    info@dawnmountain.org, dawnmountain.org • Free Sunday morning meditations, Tuesday night teachings, family programs, retreats. Basic Tibetan Buddhism through Longchen Nyingthig, live or online.



    • 2220 Post Office St, Ste. B, Galveston, TX 77550. project-

    clearlight.org • Prison outreach, sponsor prison sangha groups and free Lojong correspondence course for incar- cerates. Weekly open sittings, Nyingma Great Perfection, contemplative practices.


    • 7110 SW 182nd Way, Southwest Ranches, FL 33331. (954)

    263-4653, southfloridazengroup@gmail.com, www.south- floridazen.org • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly scheduled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 1661 West Rd, Hot Springs, NC 28743. (828) 622-7112,

    southerndharma@earthlink.net, www.shoutherndharma. org • Affordable, teacher-led, silent retreats for all levels of experience in various Buddhist traditions. Spectacular Blue Ridge Mountain setting. Schedule and registration online.


    • 1516 W. 3rd St, Little Rock, AR 72201, PO Box 561, Little

    Rock, AR 72203. (501) 376-7056 (VM) www.ebslr.org; ebs@aristotle.net. • Welcome. Your seat awaits. Weekly Vipassana, Zen and Vajryana practices. Daily silent sittings. Classes, retreats, events. Full information at ebslr.org



    • 203 Chestnut Hil Ave, Brighton, MA 02135. (617) 787-

    1506, Fax: (617) 787-2708, info@shimgumdo.org, www. shimgumdo.org • Shim Gum Do - Mind Sword Path; Zen meditation and martial art training. Ongoing classes and residential programs available.

    PO Box 12114, Gainesville, FL 32604. gateless.gate.zen.cen-

    ter@gmail.com, gatelessgate.org • Sitting every Monday

    6:30-8pm (instruction at 6) at Gainsesville Retreat Center,

    • 1551 SE 51 St ..

    A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 1605 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77008. (713) 869-1952,

    www.houstonzen.org • Zen meditation—daily zazen, week- ly classes and lectures, sesshin and retreats. Soto Zen. Abbot Gaelyn Godwin and assistant teachers.


    • 1000 Armeda Avenue, Irving, TX 75061. director@ktcdallas.

    org, www.ktcdallas.org • An affiliate study center of Karma

    Triyana Dharmachakra in New York. Resident teacher, Lama Dudjom Dorjee Rinpoche. Weekly dharma teaching on Sundays, periodic Vajrayana retreats, meditation instruction offereed. Schedule and information on web site.




    • 149 Lockwood Rd, Barre, MA 01005. (978) 355-2347,

    bcbs@dharma.org, www.bcbsdharma.org • Residential and online courses combining study, discussion, and medita- tion for strengthening sangha, supporting curiosity, and

    expanding and deepening personal practice.


    • 6496 Jonestown Rd, Harrisburg, PA 17112. (717) 671-5057;

    houseofmeditation@gmail.com; www.bmls.org • The Blue Mountain Lotus Society is devoted to sharing the universal

    teachings of the Buddha in the 21st century. Director, Sensei Anthony Stultz.


    • 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA 01602. (508) 792-5189,

    info@boundlesswayzen.org, www.boundlesswayzen.org • Throughout New England. Shikantaza, koan practice, ses- shins, dokusan, family and introductory workshops. Teachers:

    James Ford, Melissa Blacker, David Rynick, and Josh Bartok.

    • 554 Drumheller Ln, Shipman, VA 22971. (434) 263-6304,

    sr.operations@ligmincha.org, www.ligmincha.org, www. serenityridge.ligmincha.org, www.ligminchastore.org. • Teachings from the Bön Buddhist tradition of Tibet, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Spiritual Director: retreats, meditation and practices including dzogchen, Tibetan yoga, dream yoga, and more.


    • 1516 W 3rd St, Little Rock, AR 72201. (501) 661-1669,

    lusauer@aristotle.net, www.ebslr.org/kwan-um-zen • Meditation practice every Tuesday nights from 6:00-7:00 in the large meditation room at EBS - Please join us! A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 331 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139. (617) 441-9038,

    www.cambridgeinsight.org • Vipassana. Guiding Teachers:

    Larry Rosenberg and Narayan Liebenson. Urban center dedicated to integrating meditation practice and wisdom into daily life. Workshops, retreats, practice groups. Daily sittings, weekly drop-ins, Dharma talks.


    • 199 Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02139. (617) 576-3229,

    info@cambridgezen.org, www.cambridgezen.org • Guiding teacher Jane Dobisz. Daily meditation, weekly talks, monthly retreats. Residential and guest stays, community dinners. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 169 N Main St, South Yarmouth, MA 02664. (508) 760-1814,

    capecodzencenter@yahoo.com, www.capecodzen.com • Clear teaching, clear mind. Please join us for regularly sched- uled practice and retreats. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 400 E 14th St, Apt 2E, New York, NY 10009. (212) 353-

    0461, info@chogyezencenter.org, www.chogyezencenter.org • Daily practice, regularly scheduled retreats, talks, inter- views, introduction classes. A Kwan Um School Zen Center.


    • 303 Tunxis Rd, West Hartford, CT 06107. (860) 790-9750,

    info@copperbeechinstitute.org, copperbeechinstitute.org • Connecticut’s premier retreat center for mindfulness and co