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Lions Roar : November 2009
Letters to the Editor minDFul SoCietY We at the Center for Contemplative mind in society were delighted to see Barry Boyce’s “the Contemplative Curriculum” in the July 2009 issue. for over ten years, the cen- ter has funded 150 Contemplative mind fel- lows in higher education who incorporate contemplative practices and perspective into the teaching of their discipline. these fellows come from all disciplines—from “hard” sciences like chemistry and geology, across the academic spectrum to theater arts and poetry. everyone mentioned in the article has been a fellow. this past year we launched the associa- tion for Contemplative mind in higher education—open to all in higher educa- tion. With over 300 members, the associa- tion held its first conference in april. our intention is to begin the transformation of education—to bring the inner dimen- sion into a central position in the life of the academy and in the education of those who will form the world of the future. We need deepened sensibilities of connection and compassion to forge a world where seven billion people can live in some mea- sure of harmony and well-being. We re- gard contemplative practices as essential. Philip snyder executive director Center for Contemplative mind in society northampton, massachusetts touCheD James Kullander’s “love’s legacy lost” (september 2009) touched me deeply, re- kindling memories of my own dad who passed away in 2008. What i found espe- cially poignant was Kullander’s description of touching his dad’s hand, a gesture that had rarely taken place. similarly, i’d had very little physical contact with my dad. he was not at all the demonstrative type, either verbally or physically. yet, in the last several years of his life, i couldn’t get enough of holding, stroking, and kissing his hands. it often takes another to express what we know but can’t find the words for. thank you, James Kullander. ilbero ferrato laval, Quebec negAtiVe thinking i know that the following letter, written in response to “silencing the inner Critic” (september 2009), goes against the current of contemporary Buddhist wisdom, but perhaps it will resonate with some people. as a Zen teacher and psychotherapist i’ve worked with scores of people who have struggled with a range of “self-afflictive” thoughts and feelings. What is clear is that there is some unconscious component to this negativity that connects with grief, guilt, and anger turned inward, and that these mental and emotional states aren’t easily resolved through traditional forms of practice. i’ve read many articles, like this one by Christina feldman, that seem to suggest we somehow leapfrog over the so-called negative emotions, but this by- passing can’t resolve the core issues; for some people such avoidant approaches only make things worse. lawson sachter asheville, north Carolina the gooD DeAth i agree with simon Critchley’s comments (september 2009) on our society’s denial of death. i encounter this everywhere, and sometimes think that nothing short of a sea change in our culture will bring about a shift. i felt profoundly disturbed, how- ever, when i read his remarks on “a good death,” and how he apparently advocates the withholding of pain medication for the dying because, he says, pain medica- tion can “interfere with dignity.” i’ve sat at a great many deathbeds, and it has been my observation that pain med- ication is not administered to “pacify” the patient or to bring about a “drug-induced state.” it is given for precisely the opposite reasons, to give the dying patient peace, dignity, and comfort. to deny medication to the dying is to demonstrate a deep lack of compassion at a time when the patient is at her most vulnerable. the dying have the right to choose not to have pain medi- cation if they are in a position to make an informed decision. But i find it troubling that Critchley seems to imply that a death is somehow better or more dignified if it’s endured in pain. Why, one wonders, should pain be seen as good? Brenda nixon Calgary, alberta it’S the Shit What a great article “the shitty monk” (september 2009) is. how brutally re- vealing of our crap! the in- sight and humor divas have blessed shozan Jack haubner. more please! nancy miller arlington, Virginia “the shitty monk” is fresh, energetic, humorous, and helpful—very helpful. i ride buses in san diego and it happened i was reading the article while i was on the bus and could shaMBhaLa suN NoveMBer 2009 13 illustrationByhildethomsen