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Lions Roar : March 2018
What is your practice tradition? Zen, poetry. Primary teachers? John Daido Loori, Roshi; Maezumi Roshi; Mom. What is your current or next project? Several books in process. Favorite meditation practice? Sitting on a wooden dock; gentle waves; morning. Recommended dharma books? Leaves of Grass. Your favorite virtue? Courage. Especially when someone stands up for someone else, putting their security, position, or life on the line, and actively, intel- ligently, and with full force, protects. Your chief characteristic? I’m at ease in a pretty basic way, even though I’m not oblivious to the nightmare. I also tend to be covered in dog hair. Or cat hair. Your idea of misery? Getting lost in my ideas and missing everything. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I am an absolutely passionless bookkeeper. If the books are off by a quarter, I will get a quarter from my wallet and throw it in the till to balance things, so I can finish up and go write poetry. If not yourself, who would you be? I will send you my novel if I ever get it finished... The natural talent you’d most like to have? Taking pain out of the body, any body. Stupid pain be banned. Leave just enough so that we don’t burn our hands on the stove, etc. The rest: zap. Your favorite current TV show? Rachel Maddow. What’s for dinner? For a year when I had Lyme disease, my friend, a fabulous word chef, would send me elaborate menus of what she would like to be making me for dinner. It was great. Still, my answer: pancakes. Guilty pleasure? Puppy bellies. MEET A TEACHER Bonnie Myotai Treace, Sensei I WAS BORN IN TUCSON, Arizona, in 1956. My mom was a natural mystic—you’d find her sitting quietly watching the sunrise most days, and she seldom missed a sunset. My dad was the most decorated NCO in World War II, and even though he saw so much suffering, he always seemed to see the “funny” in things—which made me someone who will overlook seem- ingly all flaws if a person has even a meager sense of humor. I loved learning, and was reading by age three, but struggled with the social aspects of school, so I zipped through as if there was a rush to get somewhere, accruing my first master’s degree before I was nineteen. In my twenties, I was diagnosed with nerve disfunction that creates periods of disabling chronic pain. It literally grounded me, taking me back to the fundamentals, got me questioning the body-mind connection, and made liv- ing a generous life feel imperative. Biofeedback training led to meditation on my own, and after a few years, I embarked on a long bus trip to Zen Mountain Monastery. Entering the zendo, I felt like I’d come home. Sunrise, sunset: I ordained, became Daido Roshi’s first dharma heir, and ten years of teaching in NYC culminated in becoming abbess of the Zen Center of New York City. Inhale, exhale: now, I have left the monastery to teach in my own “hermit style,” which orients toward artists and others who do less of their Zen study in group settings. I like working with people to transform the narrative of isolation that often accompanies illness or old age. I’ve ended up with quite a rowdy, interesting group of hermits. ♦ JAKOBLAGERSTEDT LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2018 37 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE