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Lions Roar : July 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2006 11 THICH NHAT HANH Thanks for the excellent interview with Thich Nhat Hanh in your March issue. People like Thich Nhat Hanh not only sustain true dharma, but humanity itself. Do you think it is possible that the true nature of spirituality is just this—mindfulness of breath- ing? Spirit, after all, is another word for the breath, and almost every form of life breathes. Wayne Turner Big Rapids, Michigan ONE FAMILY’S IDEA Two stories from the March issue res- onated with me. The profile of UN special envoy Stephen Lewis (“Why Aren’t We Lis- tening to This Man?”), highlighting Lewis’s ef- forts in Africa, and his anguish given the mag- nitude of the suffering from HIV/AIDS, stunned me. The second story by a man I consider my teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, showed a way that one family could make a difference. It made me wonder about the effort that has been spent trying to cajole or shame the wealthy govern- ments of the world to ante up that 0.7% GNP for assistance to the long-suffering peoples of Africa. A thought occurred to me: what about committing 0.7% of our families GFI (Gross Family Income) yearly to this cause through the Stephen Lewis Foundation? I discussed the idea with my wife, who agreed wholeheartedly; this has been one family’s solution on a micro scale. My hope is that you will publish this letter, and perhaps others will find merit in the idea. If it caught on, maybe it could lead to an effective macro solution. Bill Greenhalgh Victoria, British Columbia THE PROVOCATIVE MR. HARRIS Sam Harris (“Killing the Buddha,” March 2006) ad- vocates a version of Buddhism that I practice myself, one stripped down to the essential teachings of the Buddha and freed from its religious trappings. I even handed this issue to my wife (who is not a practicing Buddhist) and said, “If you want a brief synopsis of my worldview, just read this.” I was also heartened to see the story by Michael Valpy about Stephen Lewis and the AIDS crisis in Africa. Buddhist practice is not just about sitting on our cushions and observing our own minds; it is about being aware of the suffering of others and what we can do to work toward reliev- ing that suffering. My kudos to the Shambhala Sun for hav- ing the courage and in- sight to publish both of these articles. Mr. Harris shows us that Buddhism need not be an ossified mythology mired in cen- turies-old irrational beliefs like the monotheisms of the West. And Stephen Lewis points us directly to one area where we can be putting our beliefs into action. That, for me, is the essence of Buddhist practice. Ian Dodd I had a mixed response to Sam Harris. His contention that “Buddhism’s philosophy, insight, and practices would benefit more people if they were not presented as a religion” is one that resonates deeply with me. At the same time, three considerations lead me to ques- tion that nonreligious approach. The first is that a nonreligious presentation of Buddhism has been utilized for at least the last hundred years. Some people in the West (whose intention clearly has not been to propagate an in- stitutional Buddhism) have been influenced by or borrowed from Buddhist culture; examples can be found in literature, philosophy, psychotherapy, Letters to the Editor