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Lions Roar : May 2013
In my zeal to leave my history behind, I understood Zen Master Gensha to say the past was of no consequence, that it was only the present that mattered. It was an ill-informed interpreta- tion no doubt, but one that fit the new story I wanted to craft for myself. We all abandon the people we once were to some degree when we leave home. We reject the familiar in service of our new and as yet unrealized life. Embarrassed by my roots and unsure how to integrate the self I had been with the self I hoped to become, I severed my connection to the past. When the tent came to town, I hid in my house. Eventually word spread among my new friends that the infamous preacher, the healer turned cult leader, was my stepdad. A couple of people mentioned it in passing. Something about my demeanor must have warned them off, because no one questioned me. Cut loose from all that I had known, I led a sort of ghost life, insubstantial and unreal. Memories presented like hieroglyphs carved into a wall. I was the wall. The decoding began almost by accident. After several years of avoiding all mention of the tent, I wrote about it for a class assignment. An inexplicable decision, except that I knew the tent story would play well on the page. I turned in the paper and arrived late as usual for our next class. I walked in and found the teacher reading aloud. Everyone turned and stared. It took a moment to recognize the words as my own: “I was three and my brother was one when my mother signed on as organist for tent revivalist David Terrell. We traveled and lived with Terrell and his wife and two kids for several years... until the day my mother and the tent left town without my brother and me.” Entitled “The First Time She Left,” the essay described my mother’s leaving and my five-year-old brother’s heartbreaking response. “He scrambled up the chain link fence, cutting his legs on the sharp metal at the top. I remember the blood streaming down his scrawny legs and the way he shouted No, no no as someone pulled him down. I remember my mother’s face framed in the rear window, her mouth forming a perpetual Oh, her arm wav- ing back and forth, Goodbye, goodbye.” The professor looked up. Well done, she said, well done. A few students asked later if the story was true. It was true, except for the title. My brother’s breakdown was the culmination of the many times my mother left us to travel with the tent. I shrugged. It’s just a story, I said. And it was, in a way. The process of finding the right words to distill the emotion of my mother’s abandonment had so thrilled and seduced me My mom asked my stepdad how they’d explain things to the girls as they grew up. His answer: Jesus will come before then. And he meant it. Shambhala Sun Foundation Announcement The Shambhala Sun Founda- tion is pleased to announce the appointment of Edward Boyce as the new Associate Publisher of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma. As a former assistant editor of the Sun, independent film producer, and sales associ- ate in database publishing, Eddie brings us outstanding professional skills in commu- nications, marketing, sales, and new media. As a long- time Buddhist practitioner, he has a deep commitment to the Foundation’s mission. Eddie will oversee advertis- ing sales and partnership relations, create new business opportunities, and expand our digital publishing program. He invites your inquiries at email@example.com. SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 76