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Lions Roar : September 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN 64 I USED TO STARE at the meditating Buddha in our living room: his straight- backed posture, his wide shoulders and narrow waist, his elegant hands resting humbly in his lap. This statue sat on a shelf seven feet high. Around him were other Buddhas, two yellow candles, and a cup of rice to hold incense sticks. He could rest comfortably in my palm and weighed no more than a couple of pounds. Yet he was heavy in spiritual weight, my father always said. The Buddha, like my mother and father, was not native to America. He had been in my family for years, ever since my father was a barefoot boy running wildly in Ayut- thaya, Thailand. I wondered if the Buddha, too, felt misplaced in this new world—a world without the heat and humidity of his native home, without the familiar sounds of geckos and mynahs and the evening song of croaking frogs. This was America. This was Illinois. This was Chicago. Here, the house shook on Mondays when the garbage truck rumbled by. Here, our neighbor Jack rode endless loops on his riding lawn mower. My family revolved around the Buddha. Each morning, before I went to school, I prayed to him. Some days, my mother allowed me to stand on a dining-room chair ILLUSTRATIONS BY TOMI UM Playing with Buddha The Buddha is with you,” his mother used to say. “Believe in him.” At age seven, IRA SUKRUNGRUANG believed that the Buddha was more than a bronze statue. The Buddha was his best friend. “