using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 45 Living scarred and scared, stressed and depressed, burned out on utopian thinking, many citizens have turned to tending to their own personal gardens, cocooning with their immediate family and friends, and retreating with a feeling of disillusion- ment and defeat from efforts to tackle social problems (in other words, “dropping out”) as their existential default position. Un- like the era of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Eugene McCarthy, in our period of postmodernism the belief in a his- torical and progressive Grand Narrative has been lost. A more positive spin on the Voltarian solution, one that inches closer to a Buddhist approach, can be found in Morris Berman’s powerful The Twilight of American Culture (2000), a work the author says he created as “a kind of guidebook for disaffected Americans who feel increasingly unable to fit into this society, and who also feel that the culture has to change if it is to survive.” Berman, whose most recent book is Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire, is an admirer of Ray Bradbury’s inspiring and influential Fahrenheit 451, a novel that imagines a coterie of cultural rebels in a book-destroying future dystopia. They each memorize a classic work of literature and thus become living books themselves in order to transmit the hard-won treasures of civilization to the next generation. Today we must do something similar to this, Berman argues, becoming what he calls a New Monastic Individual (NMI), “a sacred/secular humanist dedicated not to slogans or the fash- ionable patois of postmodernism, but to En- lightenment values that lie at the heart of our civilization: the disinterested pursuit of truth, the cultivation of art, the commitment to criti- cal thinking inter alia.” Not retreating from an infantilized, culturally diminished social world, where consumers are bombarded with three thousand product mes- sages a day (according to Brad Adgate, senior vice president of the New York branding firm Horizon Media), the NMI “knows the differ- ence between quality and kitsch, and he seeks to preserve the former in the teeth of a culture that is drowning in the latter. If she is a high school teacher, she has her class read the Odyssey, de- spite the fact that half the teachers in the school have as- signed Danielle Steel. If he is a writer, he writes for posterity, not for the best-seller lists. As a mother, she takes her kids camping or to art museums, not to Pocahontas. He elects, in short, to save his life via the monastic option.” BOTH THE cultivate-your-own-garden and NMI models for dealing with no longer healthy societies have value, but they are missing the profound clarity provided for 2,600 years by the buddhadharma, which has witnessed and survived the waxing and waning of civilizations. Albert Einstein is reported to have claimed, “If there is any religion that could cope with Our era looks eerily like the time of Petronius, author of the Satyricon, at the end of the Roman empire. The signs of decay and decline go on and on. Poking the Universe