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Lions Roar : November 2013
IF THE COLOR PURPLE is a “Buddha book that’s not Buddhism”—as author Alice Walker once described her Pulitzer Prize winning novel—Walker’s own spirituality might be called a Buddha path that’s not Buddhist. Walker has long been a meditator, and she credits Pema Chödrön’s teachings on awaken- ing compassion with helping to open her heart, again and again. But Walker doesn’t consider herself Buddhist. She draws on many spiritual teachings and pledges allegiance to none. As an author and activist, she is known for searing portraits of difficult subjects, but when I meet her on a warm afternoon in Berkeley, California, she radiates a quiet wonder and steadfast appre- ciation for the unadorned bounty of the Earth, including the red Russian kale leaf that seems to grow bigger by the minute in the planter bed in her garden. “The one that looked as big as my hand last night is almost twice as big as my hand now,” she says. “That’s what I like to watch.” Walker greets me just inside the garden gate at her home, wearing a soft, loose-fitting, blue- linen outfit, her hair short and smoky gray. She leads me briskly through the sun-drenched garden to the living room, past a bench lined with copies of her latest books, and settles on her sofa, legs outstretched. Walker is not one to stay within prescribed lines or to heed perceived limitations, whether in her spiritual path, her art, or her life. She has loved and partnered with men and women. Alice Walker The Beautiful Truth From her childhood in the Jim Crow South to her ascent as a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, Alice Walker has been on a journey to see things as they really are. COLLEEN MORTON BUSCH explores Walker’s life, work, and spiritual path. PHOTOS BY ANDREA ROTH SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 29