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Lions Roar : November 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 90 yond my head at some celestial pinpoint where millions, no billions of angels, archangels, seraphim, cherubim, and be- atitudes, along with all the mad gods of the underworld, the buffoons, sex-crazed goat men, smug pricks, the witches rid- dled with warts and carbuncles, devils, and daemons must dance. He was ordering them all to begone and at the same time forgiving me, cleansing my dirty old soul of sins, curses, and evils. In Papa Christos’ worldview, the Devil was actual and omnipresent. Lurking. Waiting. Insinuating. Always insinuating. Waiting to pounce on the weak, the godless. And he’d got me. I must, in the good father’s mind, have seemed damned. Easy prey. Mine must have been a difficult exor- cism, for Papa Christos looked somewhat unsteady, an exhausted muezzin chant- ing his delirious incantations, hosannas, and canticles, perhaps in Greek, though it didn’t sound like it. His voice was hoarse and cracked, his nostrils quivered, his mouth tightened, spittle foamed on his lips, and he spat my daemons—my disillu- sions, venom, and sins—out on the floor. Hocus-pocus presto, and I was cleansed. My glass no longer full or even half full, but empty. Heaven. The optimist’s de- light, an empty vessel waiting to be filled. And that is the brilliance of confession, of redemption. Freedom. Free to sin again. “Now Papa Christos say you must pray every day.” I remembered to smile. “I don’t know how.” “Papa Christos say, just be simple. Just say help me God. That will be enough.” An obstinate silence. I could never spit the words out. I’d choke on the hypoc- risy. Laugh myself to tears. Even a simple genuflection was impossible. I’d long ago added prayer to that list of spiritual ac- complishments, beginning with medita- tion, that I can’t do. My only true achieve- ment has been acceptance of failure and doubt. There was no god, the universe was absolutely without purpose, life was a sideshow, a freak accident, a temporary speck of order in the overwhelming chaos. Entropy, not evolution, was prime. ♦ Available wherever books are sold and at www.majestyofyourloving.com Green Mountain Books, paperback $16.95 “A heart-felt, wise, honest, and tender book.” JACK KORNFIELD “An eloquent account which transcends pain and loss and becomes an inspiration.” PETER MATTHIESSEN (MURYO ROSHI) “A book of great inspiration, courage, and hope.” ROSHI JOAN HALIFAX OLIVIA AMES HOBLITZELLE FOREWORD BY JON KABAT-ZINN dzogchen the natural great perfection DZOGCHEN RETREATS WITH LAMA SURYA DAS Dzogchen is the consummate practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Considered by many to be "the teaching of our time," Dzogchen is direct, immediate, essentialized, adaptable, and profound: a pure awareness practice applicable to any circumstance and readily integrated into modern life. Dzogchen, often translated as the Natural Great Perfection, directly introduces us to our inner Buddha, the inherent freedom, purity and perfection of being that is our true nature. Dzogchen Center Meditation Retreats are held across the country, throughout the year as shown below: DZOGCHEN MEDITATION RETREATS Garrison, NY Winter January 3 – 11, 2009 Joshua Tree, CA Spring March 21 – March 29, 2009 Garrison, NY Summer July 24 – August 2, 2009 MULTIPLE TEACHINGS DAILY • NOBLE SILENCE • BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDINGS VEGETARIAN MEALS • PRIVATE, SEMI-PRIVATE, AND DORM ROOMS AVAILABLE For complete information and secure on-line registration for all of these scheduled events, go to www.dzogchen.org/retreats, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 617-628 -1702. LAMA SURYA DAS is the author of The Big Questions (Rodale, 2007) and Buddha Is As Buddha Does, (HarperSanFrancisco, 2007). He is also the author of Natural Radiance (Sounds True),aswellasanumberof other books including Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be and the Awakening trilogy, which includes the classic Awakening the Buddha Within (Broadway). Lama Surya is a Lineage holder of Tibetan Buddhism in the Rime (non-sectarian) tradition. For over thirty years, including more than eight years in secluded retreat, he has studied with the great masters of Tibetan Buddhism. With his open and lively style, he is particularly effective in the transmission of Buddhism in viable Western forms by presenting Buddhist ethics and insight, as well as methods of practice, in a manner accessible to all. DZOGCHEN CENTER BUDDHISM FOR THE WEST NOV 84-105.indd 90 NOV 84-105.indd 90 9/1/08 12:24:47 PM 9/1/08 12:24:47 PM