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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 65 that part of ourselves that tends to see things with unrealis- tic purity; perhaps I’m inviting a little boundary crossing and border-town mixing it up. Both the well of cloistered practice and the acequias of daily life have their mysteries, their beauties, and their difficulties. To be sure, some things happen more readily in one mode or the other, but if our aspiration is for an awakening that leaves nothing outside itself, this seems like an argument for the complementary nature of cloistered practice and daily life, for the ways they need each other. Many Westerners seem to be making this assumption, as we apprentice to awakening in the world and the cloister simultaneously. Even as we do, retreat practice and daily life can still appear to be in conflict with each other. This is probably rooted in a split between a cloistered and a worldly turn of mind that many of us bring to practice. In the midst of one, we long for the other. When we’re awake in the early hours doing our taxes, the starlit, pine-scented walk to the meditation hall can sound like heaven. It goes the other way, too: a woman’s old sailing buddy calls to say that while she’s in retreat he’ll be out on the open sea in the yacht she used to crew on, and she wonders for a few moments about the turn her life has taken. Someone wakes up in the city every morning, pierced by a deep longing for silence and solitude; someone else is surprised by the urgency with which she wants to see her young son on the last day of retreat. The institutions of Buddhism can, wittingly or unwittingly, reinforce this split. Most of the Buddhism that first came to the West in the twentieth century had a strong monastic cast,