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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2010 59 exploring challenging material, I feel it more intensely if someone is making heterosexist remarks or not even seeing my identity.” Brilliant is pleased that Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where she has done various retreats, has taken steps to be more inclu- sive. They currently have a few teachers who identify as queer and they hold an LGBTQ retreat. The last retreat Brilliant did at Spirit Rock was focused on metta or loving-kindness and it was open to people of all social identities. During the metta retreat, when Brilliant was struggling to focus, she would often open her eyes and look at a woman in her sixties who was in the row in front of her. This helped Bril- liant stay grounded because the woman always sat very upright. But one time, while they were doing a guided meditation, she looked over at the woman and saw that she was crying. “Then I started crying,” Brilliant says, “and I felt so connected to her.” It didn’t matter that they weren’t the same age; they had their practice and their humanness in common. “Meditation,” Brilliant concludes, “has helped me to become open to interacting with and loving more and more people.” And that’s one way in which meditation is political. It helps people cross divisions. on Gary Snyder, a Zen practitioner, he read about Zen. In 2004, Maloney and a friend were sitting in a café in Pitts- burgh, where he was living at the time. “Look,” she said, “the Zen Center of Pittsburgh is offering an introductory meditation ses- sion. You should go.” He hesitated. “Trevor,” she told him. “It’s all you’ve been talking about.” Days later, Maloney dreamed he was meditating and crying, and that someone asked what was wrong. “It’s like a fire,” he answered. Shortly thereafter, Maloney received meditation instruction for the first time. He says, “It was like a fire, a boring, painful, sleepy, confusing fire. I could tell there was something to it, though I didn’t know what.” Four months later, Maloney left for a nine-month stay at Tassa- jara Zen Mountain Center, which is part of San Francisco Zen Cen- ter (SFZC). Nine months turned into more than two years. Then he moved to SFZC’s City Center, where he is now an ordained monk. “Sometimes I meet folks who are new to Buddhism and the more overt religious elements—bowing toward images, the priesthood, even the teacher/student relationship—prove to be difficult for them,” Maloney says. “I was already a fundamen- tally religious person, so it was no big jump to go from prayer to invoking cosmic bodhisattvas. My training at SFZC temples is communal, ritualistic, regimented, and recognizably religious. This isn’t how it is for a lot of young practitioners.” Buddhist youth tend to be looser about defining their sangha and lineage affiliations than Maloney is. “Where does a priest like me fit in?” he asks. “I’m excited to find out!” Maloney has recently become involved with the Young Adult Dharma Council, which meets weekly to meditate and talk about the dharma. “In my SFZC sangha,” he says, “there aren’t many situations where someone with my low level of seniority gets a chance to do a little teaching. In this group, however, I’ve had several opportunities to lead and participate in discussions and—who would have thought?—I actually know a bit about this stuff! It’s been very encouraging.” Just the kind of encouragement Maloney needs as he takes his next step—moving to Austin Zen Center in Texas, where he will serve as head of the meditation hall, develop an outreach program, and study with his teacher. ♦ For a special section on Buddhism for a New Generation, go to www.shambhalasun.com PHoToBYJeNNIFeRHuNTPHoToBYDeBRAKAHN