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Lions Roar : March 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2008 17 Been there, done that. She, as well as Jack, has touched my life with just that quality of beingness. The photo, though, was taken by my daughter, Lisa Bridges. She took this one during the ceremonial spreading of my mother’s ashes at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Sylvia had just recited Kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer, for my mom. Shoshana Cole San Rafael, California FACING MARA Although I have read the story of the Bud- dha’s life many times before, the spin that Charles Johnson put on it in “Prince of Ascetics” (January, 2008) had a profound impact on me. I am a Buddhist and also a convicted child molester. That is something that I have spent the last four years in prison coming to terms with. For many years I have been on the path and have obtained many benefits from my practice, but as I read the story of Buddha holding his vigil throughout the night as Mara assailed him, I realized that was exactly what I had been avoiding doing. After reading the story and having a heart-to-heart talk with a close friend about my crimes, I was left feeling emo- tionally assailed by all the repressed feel- ings I had been unable to deal with. I be- gan to repress them again, but the thought of the Buddha as he sat with the intention of not moving again until he had broken free inspired me to try the same. What I faced was the very worst parts of myself. I felt the weight of the suffering of all the children in the world who have had to endure like circumstances. This was my first true practice of tonglen, and I tried to breathe all that suffering into myself and breathe out comfort to my victims and to all those in torment and pain. The Buddha’s story inspired in me the courage to sit with my own demons, and also the vision to realize that there is an end to suffering for all of us, whether saint or sinner. Buck Stevens Coffeewood Correctional Center Mitchells, Virginia DEMONS OF WAR Many of us veterans can relate to Tony Anthony’s “War and Silence” (January, 2008). Anthony was very lucky to get the inspiration he needed during the stress of his tour of duty. Others didn’t. Most of my friends suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder rely on drugs to rid the de- mons from their mind. Anybody who has seen combat suffers trauma, and hopeful- ly Anthony’s article will give them help. Frank Slason Somerville, Maine THE GIFT OF FEARLESSNESS In “The Ecology of Aging” (November, 2007), Theodore Roszak says the econom- ic hope for our country, and the rest of the industrialized world, is that we “will dis- cover that health care is the highest stage of industrial development,” as exemplified by his eighty-four-year-old friend Mamie, who says, “What you see is a high-main- tenance body. Why, I’m a walking medi- cal gold mine.” Am I to understand that Roszak wants his readers to believe that in America, where nine million children had no health insurance in 2004, those chil- dren’s parents and neighbors should work and pay taxes so the elderly can receive new body parts? The elderly do have much to teach our society. I believe that even more strongly as I approach sixty. The real gift they can give is the gift of fearlessness. Can aging people accept suffering and imperma- nence with fearlessness? Can they stay grounded in the present moment and dis- play an open heart? Carol Shearon Ambler, Pennsylvania ♦ MAR 1-17.indd 17 MAR 1-17.indd 17 12/19/07 2:01:52 PM 12/19/07 2:01:52 PM