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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 75 The problems of conscience, of thought, the movement of awareness, and cutting through illusion and deceit—these are the fabric of a magazine such as this one. It is a handbook for practitioners, anxious to find clarity and direction in the world. The pieces I write for it tend to go to the crux of some paradox that confounds me—my bad habits, my lazy reflexes, the way that the cruel hides inside the kind. I tell myself—and feel it, at a level deeper than the words— that Buddhism, so vibrant in Japan, has taught me about imper- manence and loss, helped me to see the blaze of autumn leaves in a frame of darkness, helped me to savor every moment because of a keen awareness of how fast the moment leaves. It has taught me to cut through layer after layer of what I call the self, the world, and see behind it nothingness, the ultimate backstage. I tell myself that being in this Catholic space on and off over thir- teen years has revealed to me the light that hides within that dark- ness, has taught me about radiance, affirmation, grace. I come here in the spring, and when I look out on Creation—the word that I would otherwise never use for simple ocean, radiant sky—the soul feels like singing. The two turn upon one another as the illuminated frame for chaos and the darker frame for beauty. They teach respec- tively the lessons of autumn and spring. But autumn and spring are part of the same round, and it is a round that takes them in and makes the terms quite mean- ingless. One does not think to call oneself a Buddhist or a Catholic when one is in love; one does not think to call oneself anything. What remains when the last illusion or diversion is cut away is this: blue sky, blue ocean, the wheeling sun. And this, too: the moon above the hills, translucent, the planes and their beeping lights among the stars. I come to a Catholic monastery to cut through whatever notions I have of Ca- tholicism, the Church, its practice and misdeeds in the world. I come here to cut through whatever I might associate with Buddhism, too, its op- positions and convergences. I come to step into whatever stands behind the person who is saying all that and the one who imag- ines himself a being in the world. does it help me with my practice in “real life”? does it give me a clearer sense of which is the right path to take? does it help me sort out this good from that rival good? It does, but only in the way a slant of light does, and questions themselves fall away. It could be snowing, it could be bright tomorrow; the sea, the sky, the deer emerging from the tall grass in the dusk, will still be here. —JANUARY, 2005 A Memorable Ass-Chew by Barry Boyce FIVe SUMMeRS AGO, on vacation with my wife and two daugh- ters, I was driving on Route 95 north out of New Jersey, head- ing onto the George Washington Bridge. As you head toward the bridge you have to choose a lane for either the upper or lower tier. I ended up choosing the one with the biggest traffic jam. Heroically I tried to undo my bad decision by crossing a flat me- dian strip and joining the zoom- ing traffic heading to the other tier. Before I could complete the gambit, a New Jersey state police- man sped up behind me. From where, I will never know. The asking for the license part went as per usual, and then he in- structed me to get out and join him at the front of the car. With my back to the car, he looked around me PHOTOBYMOLLYNUdeLLILLUSTRATIONBYTATJANAKRIzMANIC