using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 33 “Does ‘get rid of ’ mean ‘squish’?” he asked. “Sometimes,” I admitted (although once on a retreat I met a Thai monk who persuaded ants to leave my tent by chanting the Heart Sutra). Skye thought for a while. “What does ‘get rid of George Bush’ mean?” he asked. When it comes to unanswerable questions, chickens and yeast and George Bush are just the beginning. Last summer, just learn- ing to read and write, Skye insisted that we Google a question he laboriously typed into the computer himself, with me helping him sound out the words: “Why do people kill other people?” I told him you couldn’t find answers to that question on the Internet (although our search did bring up a slough of articles on gun control). In the months since, we’ve revisited the topic of war and violence again and again. We’ve talked about ignorance, and pain, and starvation. We’ve talked about battles to control resources such as food and water. We’ve talked about people who believe that if you’re hurt, hurting someone else will make you feel better, and people whose mommies and daddies weren’t able to teach them that it’s always better to use your words. But every answer leads to more questions. Why didn’t their mommies teach them? Why don’t we send them food instead of fighting them? “It’s mainly guys who kill people,” he said over dinner one night. “Why do you think that?” I asked. “Because when I see the newspaper and there are pictures of wars it’s almost always men. Why do men fight wars and women don’t?” Scraping up the the last of the ice cream out of his bowl one evening, he asked me cheerfully, “When I’m dead, will I remember me???” The biggest questions of all tend to come at bedtime. “Where did the earth come from?” he asked as we snuggled under his comforter and looked up at the glow-in-the-dark constellations on his ceiling. “Where did the very first people come from? Will people still be here to watch the earth when it dies?” I offered a two-minute summary of evolution and the Big Bang. “But why did apes start turning into people?” he pursued. “And where did all the stuff that was in the Big Bang come from?” And then, a few minutes later: “That explosion—what was it called? The Big Bang? Is that what made San Rafael?” When he heard about Skye’s existential queries, my 83-year- old father—a Catholic retired Army general—sent me an e-mail: “Why not just tell Skye that some people say that God made all things, visible and invisible, and leave it at that? Then he can work out the rest as he goes along.” Just refer the inquiries up the chain of command to the ulti- mate Commander-in-Chief? I resist the idea. But as the questions keep coming, I have to admit that I swim in a sea of mysteries. Every few minutes, Skye confronts me with my own ignorance. I do not know how plastic is made. I do not know if the earth always had a moon. I do not know how computers print or how film is developed or whether yeast poops. Many of the things I used to know I no longer remember—how to solve quadratic equations, the reasons for the War of 1812, the difference be- tween mitosis and meiosis. And many of the black-and-white things I used to be sure of (what good people are supposed to eat and not eat, why Skye’s daddy and I are no longer married) have now dissolved into shades of grey. For some answers, Skye and I can turn to the dictionary or the encyclopedia or the Internet. I bought him a beautiful book about the origins of the universe called Born with a Bang, which tells him that every particle of his body is made from stardust formed in a mother star that exploded billions of years ago. Curled on the couch by the fire with him in my lap, I read it aloud to him, and we marveled together. But ultimately, I want for him what I want for myself—to be able to live in the mystery itself, and trust its creative unfolding. I want him to wrestle with the challenge of how to live with peace and integrity in a complex and sometimes violent world. I want him to learn, as the poet Rilke wrote, to “love the questions them- selves like locked rooms or a book written in a foreign tongue.” I don’t want the illusion of definitive answers to form a tough skin on his tender heart, which still vibrates with equal sympathy for yeast, for soldiers, for cockroaches, for John Lennon. Skye still thinks that I can give him answers. But the truth is that he is the one who is teaching me. His endless questions remind me again and again of the joy and heartbreak and unsolvable koans that surround us at every moment. And they remind me to be grateful for the chance to be alive in the middle of this vast unknown. Every night before dinner, Skye and I hold hands and he offers an improvised blessing. Last week, as the relentless spring rains beat down on our roof, he took my hand, looked at our baked tofu, rice, and salad, and said, “Thank-you to the beautiful earth for making all this food. Thank-you to the rain for helping to grow it. Thank you to all the great people we love. And thank- you to the Big Bang for making it all happen.” That’s the first time I’ve ever said “thank-you” to the Big Bang. But I have a feeling it won’t be the last. ♦ Anne and Skye