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Lions Roar : November 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2012 41 W HEN I FIRST REACHED SONNENHOF, I thought I had stepped into a Tang Dynasty landscape painting. High up an implausibly steep valley side, a large old building perched like a dragon’s lair, wrapped in several stories of dark wooden balconies. Part chalet, part ancient temple, it felt like at any moment the whole structure might drop off the hillside and swoop down into the ravine. Yet at the same time—enhancing the Tang effect—the building had an extraordinarily settled feel, as if its very fabric had welded with the earth on which it stood. As soon as I arrived and was shown to my second-floor room, commanding a precipitous view down the valley, I felt inexplicably at home, as if some part of me belonged here. There was the calm tidiness of the simple room, with its table and small bed and bare wood shelves stocked with a handful of books on Zen. There was that view, and a welcoming bowl of fruit and bottle of mineral water—but there was something else too, indefinable yet palpable: a sense of familiarity, as if I already knew this place, and it knew me. ILLUSTRATION BY KIM SCAFURO Don’t Go There As a Jew and a Briton, HENRY SHUKMAN had avoided all things German. As a Buddhist, he knew he had to say yes when his teacher asked him to teach at a zendo in the Black Forest. This is his journey.