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Lions Roar : May 2015
only have one set of knees and you need to take care of them. If you have to sit in a chair, sit in a chair. Don’t cripple yourself trying to be tough or refusing to recognize the reality of your body or your age.” He was correct of course and had pinpointed the underlying depression amplifying my physical pain. After our conversation, I began alternating medita- tion periods between my cushion and a chair, calculating backwards from meal- times so that the meditation period before a meal (which I preferred to take on my cushion) was done in a chair. This relieved the stress on my knees and the consequent reduction of pain allowed me to refocus and dedicate my efforts wholeheartedly. I aligned myself to the schedule without resistance, and was able to focus my con- centration on a question that had arisen for me on the sesshin’s first day. It was a simple question I had con- densed into a short mnemonic phrase— “What is it?”—mental shorthand for the larger question—“What is it I’m missing or still searching for?” By the end of day four I was completely absorbed by it. My question accompanied each inhale and exhale, and resided within me, simmering on a back burner, whether meditating, walking, or eating. It floated through my dreams. On the sixth day, in the late afternoon, the light outside was thinning and we began a period of rapid kinhin (walking meditation). Our route began by exiting a side door, circumambulating the rough porch girding the building, reentering through the door at the opposite corner, threading a path through the zendo and out the first door again. The wood under- foot was bracingly cold and its rough texture stimulating; the rapid walking increased my circulation and alertness and was a balm to my sore joints and muscles. The afternoon fog, creeping in from the ocean, was obscuring the edges of the hills, sending tendrils slithering through the grass like a vigorous living entity. I had just stepped out the door onto the porch. Perhaps it was the second or Peter Coyote continued from page 68 SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2015 70