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Lions Roar : January 2016
GROWING UP IN A Catholic Por- tuguese family in California, Manny Medeiros says that helping people was “what you did.” For Medeiros, that has meant a successful legal career combining Buddhist values and his lifelong commit- ment to civil rights and social change. Medeiros was the first in his family to go to college. While studying law at the University of California, Davis, he found the Davis Shambhala Meditation Center, where he became a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and then Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. His legal career was guided by his desire to help the poor and underrepre- sented. He worked in legal aid, defended farm workers being evicted for exercising their union organizing rights, advocated for sentencing reform, and fought to pro- tect Native American gravesites and cer- emonial grounds. In 2002, he was appointed as California’s Solicitor General, where he developed litigation strategy to promote marriage equality. “I have found that Bud- dhism and civil rights work inform each other,” says Medeiros. “I wanted to have some ‘on-the-ground’ experi- ence of how the basic good- ness we talk about in Bud- dhism actually plays out in the real world. My civil rights work has really informed my understanding of the breadth and vastness of the possibility of basic goodness in human- ity, and vice versa.” Medeiros retired in 2012 but continues to work in the field of restorative justice. That year, Sakyong Mipham appointed him a shas- tri (senior teacher) in the Shambhala community. Medeiros says his greatest lesson has been to meet people where they are. “I remember how once I had this inspi- ration that I was going to organize a tenants’ organization around this low- income housing agency. I was talking about taking control and how to make things better, and what they really wanted was a pool table in the rec room.” Medeiros says that opened his eyes. “In the Shambhala teachings, we talk about joining heaven and earth. There are these vast ideas and idealisms, and then you’re confronted with reality. It’s deepened my understanding of how people are in the real world, and how idealism needs to be joined with the practicality of the real world.” ♦ BODHISATTVAS Idealism for the Real World Former California solicitor-general MANNY MEDEIROS finds that civil rights work and Buddhism go well together. SARAHMEDEIROSELLIOT Tell us about a bodhisattva you know at