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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 76 what i know, free of the outside world’s performance pressures. Here, i can be as ignorant of yoga’s precise terminology and subtle choreography as i am, and still be the guide to their first awkward forays into physicality and purpose. because we’re all in this together, my teachings get personal and appropriate. one of the most popular requests is the warrior pose. “think of this as a full-force way of saying no,” i suggest. “your hand is blocking whatever it is you no longer want: ad- diction, abuse, selling your body. now, push it into the ground beside your foot. crush it. bury it. say goodbye for good. turn your head away from all that dark stuff and reach for the sky. Reach for the light.” “what’s up with this yoga stuff, Pimpin?” someone asks at the end of class. “you took me from cobra to camel to bridge to fish. it’s like i’m on safari! i am definitely coming back, girl. you got some kinda healing bomb!” compliments don’t get better than that. “cHow! now! Go to cHow!” chow. think neon green Jell-o and mystery soup. some women here have spent years negotiating with prison officials, docu- menting religious and/or medical reasons why they require a vegetarian diet. “it took me about five years to convince this place that bud- dhism is a legitimate religion,” says my friend Joli, a woman brimming with incongruous, stunning beatitude. our friendship evolved after, in the tiny prison library, we simultaneously reached for a copy of We’re All Doing Time: A Guide to Getting Free, which has become an unofficial prison bible. the book was written in 1985 by bo lozoff, the founder of the Human Kindness Foundation. lozoff and his wife, sita, became dedicated to the concept that we can achieve freedom— anywhere—when sita’s brother ended up in prison over a ship- ment of marijuana from Jamaica to miami. this led to the Pris- on-ashram Project. its motto: “be a monk, not a convict.” leaving chow, Joli and i spoon the remains of our sugar-in- fused, additive-rich, carb-loaded lunches into a slop barrel ru- mored to feed a neighboring farmer’s pigs. a guard barks, “Hey, you two! Get moving!” and we part, still laughing, like high-school cheerleaders dawdling before the next class. “end oF ten-minute moVement! “ end oF ten-minute moVement!” tonight is mindful meditation class, a once-a-week, two-hour sangha. the class owes its existence to Joli’s long, frustrating efforts to convince skeptical massachusetts doc officials that buddhism is a legitimate religion. as soon as the approval was posted on the corrections website, people from “outside” sanghas rallied to the dharma call. that they endure scrutiny, pat-downs, and a draconian, two-hour orientation just to spend two hours of their lives here touches us deeply. often the feeling is reciprocal; "When there is no difference between mind and space then Dharmakaya is mastered. When there is no difference between bliss and emptiness then action is fulfilled. Tantra's great third conduct is a path sure and swift, its methods sublime; its result is no difference between mind, your mind, and Buddha." Traktung Rinpoche Tsogyelgar Dharma Center Ann Arbor, MI Tantric Buddhist Teachings Online: Wisdom Bliss Given Freely dharma teachings online