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Lions Roar : March 2006
For so long, I felt I was living in a god- realm of prosperity and privilege. I could travel to India when I wanted and do an amazing practice to help me be a better person. Yet so many things just weren't sinking in. I was still living on the edge of others' suffering, not really experiencing it myself. This disaster has helped things to sink in. Human life is precious. Every day I can still see the spray-painted markings on buildings: "1 DB" (Dead Body). With the strangeness of the city's land- scape and the breakdown of normal life here, all time schedules have been wiped away. I feel eternally available to help people with what they need, be it gut- ting their flooded home, moving piles of rubble, or just having a dinner to discuss what to do to keep our neighborhood to- gether. I can finally participate in helping people to survive and be at peace, and that has helped me to do both of those things for myself. In short, I feel like I have been given the opportunity to practice the six perfections here and now, where suffering is not contrived or imagined. I had built a little meditation room in my bedroom. Waterlogged, the altar fell over into the toxic water in my room. It was hard for me to accept the imper- manence of the sacred objects I had col- lected and the sacred space I had created. I wanted to dismantle the room so I could rebuild it someplace new. As I took the altar apart and stacked the wood neatly against the wall, it lost its meaning. It was just a pile of semi-moldy wood. I had at- tached meaning to objects that only had meaning once they were put together in a certain order, and I could label them and how they made me feel: the meditation space that brought me peace. Sometimes one has to live a dharma story oneself to really get the meaning. All of these things, in their goodness and their awfulness, have me wanting to stay here for a while, to skip my yearly trip to India and try to reconcile the differ- ence between these two lives of mine and finally bring my practice home. Shelley Lynn Jackson New Orleans, Louisiana. SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2006 15