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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 24 theme and tan edging at the collar. The clothing was topped by a pleasant female face with intense brown-red eyes and, according to my friend Terry, goofy, sexy, curly hair. (He is correct about the goofy part. The sexy part is because he is my friend.) I picked up the phone and pushed the receiver button. It’s a habit I can’t break. If I’m in the building, I answer every call. “I’m just wondering. I’ve heard about you. And I’m just wondering ... are you enlightened?” Silence. The toffee was hardening in my mouth. Finally, a garbled response. “Look, I’m just a dharma teacher. Every day I make a vow to be compassionate and wise. Some- times it works.” Silence again. By now the toffee was locking into a temporary crown. My mind was already in a panic, contemplating walking into the dentist’s office with a crown in my hand. So much for mindfulness, let alone enlightenment. Beyond the tooth, simply trying to live each minute of this wildly entertaining journey takes up all the gray matter in my head. Experience has taught me that enlightenment has become an empty word. It means whatever the caller or e-mailer or person at the door wants it to mean. To even engage in a con- versation about it is harmful to both of us. Every week it seems that someone e-mails me with this question. I’m always surprised that they don’t ask me about my training instead or how long I’ve been at this. One time there was an e-mail that came in at 4:40 a.m. The writer had been reading about Bud- dhism for a couple of years and wanted to start practicing. He was looking for a sangha, a community where he could feel at home. First, though, a question: “How many people at Still Point are enlightened?” I responded, “Well, there’s Neptune, the abbey cat....” He didn’t write back. I hadn’t given him the head count he wanted. If I’d told him that everyone at Still Point is enlight- ened, he’d never have believed me. But they are. Some people just don’t know it and are stumbling the way I did, the way I do. Some have a sense of awakeness but still don’t trust it. Some just plain glow in the dark. Their spiritual energy is pal- pable. I didn’t say any of this in the e-mail. He was asking the wrong question. If he asked me how we all live with the dreck that comes at us every day, then we could talk. I’ve learned the hard way that for those of us determined to measure our progress on the spiritual path, a helpful test is to ask ourselves a simple question: “Is everything and everyone precious?” finally an answer to pain in meditation...and now in color The Monastery Store Dharma Communications P.O. Box 156 · Mt. Tremper, NY 12457 (845) 688-7993 www.mountainseat.com Developed by monastics at Zen Mountain Monastery in conjunction with physical therapists, physicians, and kinesiologists, the Mountain Seat cushion and mat incorporate an ingenious blending of traditional designs with the best available orthopedic technology. The secret to their unmatched comfort is viscoelastic foam, the same miracle product used by NASA for cushioning against powerful G-forces. Resting on buckwheat hulls, the cushion’s viscoelastic foam responds to heat and pressure and “flows” to accommodate the contours of the body. The cushion comes in three sizes suitable for different body types and now can be protected by removable and washable covers. The covers fit seamlessly over your cushion or mat, and are available in four colors: sage, royal blue, terracotta, and basic black. For more information on these innovative products, or for assistance in selecting the best cushion for you, please contact: *U.S. Patent Pending ➢