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Lions Roar : September 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 68 day. Darkness changed the landscape of the room. There was an absence of color, and that absence felt oppressive. The only fur- niture was a twin bed and a metal desk, and there was nothing on the walls, except for a small Buddha pendant hanging above the bed and a picture of my father when he was a monk. Although it was only half the size of my parents’, my room seemed too big, sonorous. I felt there were places for monsters to hide, espe- cially in the closet, and I convinced myself there were things that existed in there. Unpleasant things. I frequently ended up back in my parents’ bed until my father put his foot down. “Big boys sleep in their own rooms,” he said. “You are a big boy, yes?” I nodded. “Nothing can hurt you,” he said. “Buddha protects us.” And he did. He sat cross-legged on my bed, not in a meditating fashion, but how I sat when Mrs. S read to us. My Buddha did not speak sage advice. He adopted schoolyard lingo, and told me the kids at school were dork noses and that I was much better than they were. At night, Buddha eased me to sleep with his wild stories. “One time,” he’d begin, and the tale would take off in bizarre and outra- geous directions, always ending with a hero who stood tall and was not afraid to take on the world. We played rock, paper, scissors, and Buddha was always shocked when I beat him. Then when the dark- est part of the night came, he hovered above me and I could feel the heat of his presence. His skin glowed, like a night-light. ONE DAY imaginary friends are there and the next they are not. This is true of real friends, also. The friends we had when we were in school—what happened to them? Jody is now a pho- tographer in North Carolina. Casey works for USAA in Texas. Andrea is a schoolteacher in Illinois. What we share is a past, a period in time. We become a memory. We become part of a sentence that begins with, “Remember Ira...” But seldom do we remember our imagined friends, because to admit to them is to somehow admit to a deficiency on our part. Yet they existed, too. They were essential. But now we want to keep our friends a secret—to protect them from ridicule, from sideway glances. They protected us when we were younger, and now it’s our turn to protect them. “Remember Buddha?” I want to say. “Dude told the craziest stories.” BEFORE BUDDHA became Buddha, he was a boy. He was Prince Siddhartha, heir to his father’s throne, groomed to be the greatest king to ever live. This was the pressure he lived with day in, day out. I imagine this to be stifling, every limb weighed down with lead. I imagine that even Siddhartha, a boy destined for greatness, might crumble under that pressure. And the king sensed it too. He feared his son would leave the palace, so he built other palaces within the palace; there would be no need for Siddhartha to leave. But what does a boy do without others around him? I wondered about this. Full-time, Part-time, Continuing Education, and Online Opportunities Available scholarship. meditation. service 1119 SE Market Street | Portland, Oregon 97214 telephone: 503-235-2477 | email: