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Lions Roar : March 2014
february 28 - march 2 Lotus in a Sea of Fire: Peacemaking, Christ, and the Path of the Bodhisattva with Father John Dear and Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD april 16 - 27 Spring Zen Circle: Zen Mind, Yoga Body (April 18 - 20) Sesshin: Sitting & Walking with the Woods (April 21 - 27) Sensei Do-On Robert Thomas and Samantha Ostergaard may2-4 Settling the Mind in its Natural State: Discovering the Innate Bliss, Luminosity, and Conceptuality of Unmodified Awareness B. Alan Wallace, PhD santa fe, new mexico 505-986-8518 www.upaya .org upaya@ upaya.org upaya zen center practice, training & service for engaged buddhism q see upaya’s 2014 calendar and details at www.upaya.org reactivity and emotional responses. But then I was in the medi- tation hall for a month. It was summer and there was this con- tinual hum of the air conditioner. It never stopped, so after a while you didn’t hear it anymore. I was sitting there one day and somebody turned the air conditioner off. That was it! Gap!” This simple experience gave Ani Pema a reference point for being free from fixed mind. It shifted her meditation practice and her life. “I’d be having a conversation with someone,” she explains. “I’d be getting all heated up and I would begin to have this sense of my mouth and my mind going yak-yak-yak. Then I got the hang of how I could just drop it. I could give myself a break and experience being free from fixed mind. Of course, the mind starts up again, just the way the air conditioner did. But once you’ve had the experience of this gap, or pause, you begin to notice that it happens a lot automatically.” A practitioner’s work is noticing the gaps and appreciating them. In every action, every sound, every sight and smell, there can be some space, and in it there is wonder or awe at every— supposedly—mundane turn. “The potential of your human life is so enormous and so vast,” says Ani Pema. At the end of her talk everyone bows, and I concentrate on letting the gesture be a doorway—a simple thing that can expand. There is the delicate wonder of my fingers curled lightly around my thighs and the solemn wonder of my back folding softly forward. There’s the awe of again sitting up straight and the awe of standing up and the awe of streaming toward the door with the other retreatants. Outside, the sunlight is beginning to weaken into pale pink as I find the trailhead near the meditation hall. Until dinner, I listen to the wonder of my sneakers crunching and rustling as I walk through fallen oak leaves. Take Care of Others My fellow retreatants Lelia Calder and Cynthia Ronan are sharing a cabin, and I pop by to ask them about their experience with Pema Chödrön’s teachings. Lelia, a resident of Pennsylvania, has been a dedicated student since the mid-nineties. Cynthia, from Ohio, has never before been to a retreat with Ani Pema but has been reading her books for the past five years. When I ask Lelia for an example of how Pema Chödrön’s teachings have helped her in life, she laughs. “There have been so many! I wish I could think of one that is very dramatic but a lot of the time, they’re just so simple. We make things very compli- cated, but I think one of the things about dharma is that it really is simple. When things get simple, they seem like no big deal. Yet it is a big deal to be simple and direct and uncomplicated—to not make a big problem out of your life.” Cynthia says the teachings strike a chord because she can relate to Pema Chödrön’s life experiences. Ani Pema frequently talks about how it was her second divorce that took her to her edge and brought her to the Buddhist path; Cynthia also endured a painful separation. “There were times when I literally felt, I don’t know what to 4 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2014 79