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Lions Roar : November 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2009 23 offerings to tibetan hermits meditat- ing in small huts at 10,000 feet—milk, vegetables, and prayer flags. walking up the narrow path to the mountaintop, we sang our usual “Coun- try Roads” and some tibetan folks songs that i hummed along to. we laughed a lot, but at one point sonam grew serious. “sometimes,” he said as we approached the snowline, “i am very sad climbing mountain. many, many thoughts of home. tibet mountain, india mountain—same. my family far away.” these types of statements weren’t un- usual for sonam. and when he made them, he seemed to be deeply in them and at ease with his sadness. once he said to me through tears, “this is very sad, but no problem.” sonam was able to simultaneously honor emotions while knowing that everything was completely as it should be. when i first started practicing medita- tion, and even a number of years in, i had the view that emotions were illusory. the goal was to shatter them with your Va- jra sword of concentration and move on unscathed. while this is one strategy, for me (perhaps having a dull Vajra sword), it led to being afraid of my emotions. watching sonam, i was gradually learn- ing another approach. when we climbed the mountain, i’d just finished a silent retreat and was feel- ing calmer and clearer. during the first ten days of the retreat, grieving the breakup, i’d collapsed in tears several times. i want- ed to run from the sitting, but thinking of how sonam spoke of his family, i tried to welcome the difficult moments. taking a step back, i was able to see that i was grieving my parents’ divorce through my own breakup. within the pain, i felt a few moments of peace, formerly unknown to me in times of harsh emotion. “but now,” sonam continued as we walked, just minutes after tearing up about his family, “i am very happy. i go to mountain with my best friend, Ja-ma. you my best friend. i think we go to tibet together, see family.” it would be nice to get him back to tibet. selfishly, i also dreamed of going there with him and writing about it. i asked sonam if he thought we could sneak into tibet. it was too risky, he said. “many monk go to tibet, no coming back. go to prison.” but a few minutes later sonam came up with another plan: he wanted to come with me to america, where he thought he could get a job in a tibetan restaurant and earn enough to pay for the expensive visa to go to tibet. i could help him get the visa, he said. “you very good, Ja-ma. For you, this visa no problem.” it was a terrible plan. getting the u.s. visa would be next to impossible; getting a job would be equally hard; and getting the Chinese visa would be a miracle. but sonam was excited. “i think this good plan. you help me?” i hesitated, then in my dreamy, Himalayan state of mind, i said, “of course.” i put my arm around sonam. we reached the huts in the afternoon and went straight for one made of weath- ered wood, torn blue plastic tarps, sheet metal, and mud. sonam knew the hermit living here and had great respect for him. the door opened right away when we “This morning, I am very happy,” he’d say while making us thick Tibetan tea. “This night, I am very happy,” he’d say as we cooked dinner. SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION THIRD ANNUAL ONLINE AUCTION OFFERING A SELECTION OF · original artworks · programs and events · retreats and vacations · books and audio · clothing and jewellry · gifts FEATURING OUTSTANDING ITEMS SUCH AS THIS RESTING GARDEN BUDDHA STATUE FROM DHARMACRAFTS COMING MONDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2009 Proceeds from this auction will support our move to environmentally responsible paper. The Shambhala Sun Foundation gratefully thanks our auction partners for their generous donations. SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly.