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Lions Roar : July 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2008 15 Letters to the Editor SPEECHLESS Has there ever been a more truthful, witty, and wise article on meditation than John Tarrant’s “Surprises on the Way” (May, 2008)? If so, I haven’t seen it. No jargon. Just humor, metaphors, anecdotes, and empathy—and wis- dom, what wisdom. I’ve read it three times and find more in it each time. The whole journey is there, but put so simply it’s deceptive. I think he must be a very good teacher—and a poet. The Narahashi photographs are the perfect accom- paniment for it. They left me speechless, which, as I’m sure John Tarrant would say, is not a bad thing. The photos accompanying the other fine articles in this is- sue also show an unusual degree of understanding and sensitivity on the part of whoever chose them. I am a longtime subscriber to the Shambhala Sun and I think it just gets better and better. I love the wide net it casts on Buddhist waters. Grace Hinrichs Rockport, Maine ALL YANG, NO YIN I’m not surprised that the book reviewer of The Geo- graphy of Thought (May 2008) and the book’s author are both male. Richard Nisbett’s book appears to describe typical American male communication styles: assertive, direct, self-focused. By contrast, women are socialized in a more affiliative, Asian fashion: attuned to con- nections and relationships, intuiting what others want and need, wary about making waves, quick to com- promise and avoid conflict. (One of the reasons for the surge in female-only middle and high schools is that so many girls have been overshadowed by boys in classrooms.) Reviewer Charles Johnson’s sentence, “For East- erners, close attention to relationships, attitudes, and the feelings of others ... were highly valued,” would certainly apply to most American women. While he makes an admirable effort to point out the dif- ferences between whites and people of color, the glaring gender differ- ences are ignored. Given that half of Americans are women (and, I imagine, about half of your readers), I hope your writers will be more mindful of women’s perspectives in the future. Stacy Taylor El Cerrito, California TO BABYLON AND BACK When I was a child, we used to say a Mother Goose rhyme that appears like this in The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes: How many miles to Babylon? Three score miles and ten. Can I get there by candle-light? Yes, and back again. If your heels are nimble and light, You may get there by candle-light. I would like to suggest that Denise Levertov was harking back to this rhyme when she wrote “Candles in Babylon,” the poem discussed by Sam Hamill in your March 2008 issue. In the poem, Ms. Levertov’s “we,” racing barefoot with candles in their hands, cry “Sleepers awake!” This is the title of Bach’s Cantata No. 140, which tells the parable of the wise and foolish virgins from Mat- thew 25:1-13, the same parable on which Mr. Hamill bases his exegesis of Ms. Levertov’s poem. The five wise virgins, carrying lamps, were prepared to meet the bridegroom, while the five others were not. I would suggest another interpretation of Ms. Le- vertov’s poem, because I think she used the cantata JULY 1-17.indd 15 JULY 1-17.indd 15 4/25/08 11:37:52 AM 4/25/08 11:37:52 AM