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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 17 Its chakras were all messed up. And we had to adjust the flow of chi energy. accept the idea of God” rather than “reject the idea of God” when referring to the religious attitudes of most elite scientists. There is undoubtedly a difference between these two phrases, and I am embarrassed not to have caught it prior to the book’s publication. And yet, it is a difference that does not make the slightest impact upon my argument as a whole. The truth is that Wallace’s reaction to my book is symp- tomatic of the very political correctness and intellectual apathy to which Letter to a Christian Nation is itself a response. While my book undoubtedly has many flaws, Wallace appears to be precisely the sort of reader who cannot find them. Sam Harris Los Angeles, California [Sam Harris is author of Letter to a Christian Nation and The End of Faith] AN ORANGE A DAY In “The Right Kind of Mindfulness” (Sep- tember 2006), Thubten Chodron ques- tions whether such simple practices as mindfully eating an orange will lead to enlightenment. She writes that it is mind- fulness of the “four distortions of mind” and their opposites that leads to libera- tion. I found her discussion to be both cogent and inspiring; however, I was con- cerned about the implied denigration of simple, “everyday” mindfulness. From both a classical Theravadan as well as a contemporary psychological per- spective, “mindfulness” refers to vibrant, non-judgmental, and vigilant attention applied to the present moment. Simple practices such as mindful eating can be a potent tool in the cultivation of this type of attention. To my mind, the dharma is available in any moment we choose to be awake. Through diligent and vigorous ap- plying of mindful attention to the most basic aspects of our lives, we can slowly but inexorably counter the attention defi- cit disorder that afflicts virtually all mod- ern humans. Moreover, as we stabilize and sharpen our attention through the mindful eating of an orange, the illusion of banality can be penetrated, and in that moment we can find ourselves awash in the truth of impermanence, suffering, and selflessness. In this way, the most simple of practices can allow for an experiential deconstruc- tion of the “four dis- tortions,” and the frui- tion of enlightenment. Paul Choi, MD Seattle, Washington COOL BOB I really enjoyed “Bob Thurman’s Cool Revolution” by Michael Valpy (Septem- ber 2006), but I would like to differ with his statement that for secular humanism “only matter exists.” Secular people are secure in their moral standards because of their deep spiritual understanding; therefore, they are not frightened by the acts of others. They do not judge from good and evil; therefore, they see the path of good and fear not evil. They are secure in their loving and com- passionate spirituality; therefore, they have empathy that requires them to help others. They are secure in their religious conviction; therefore, they have no need to convert others to their sect. From this perspective, I see Buddhism as the highest form of secularism. Bob Wilhelm Sarasota, Florida MINDFUL POLITICS I thoroughly enjoyed reading the “Mindful Politics” issue (September 2006). Instead of being a tool for those with power and greed, politics should be- come our methodology to propagate com- passion and understanding. The aversion to politics of most of American society has had me perplexed. As Sir Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” Politics is an everyday act. You can see it in your choices of food, your treatment of others, or your expression of beliefs. We can all come to- gether with acts of kindness, compassion and respect for one another and make a change in our towns, states, country, and planet, but only if we act from our hearts. Robert Kidd Montpelier, Vermont