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Lions Roar : May 2015
third round, but I had just begun my course down the building’s long side. I remember that my hands were folded formally against my navel and my gaze was unfocused, and I remember a por- tion of the swishing black robe and flash- ing heels of the person in front of me. Several paces after passing through the door, a bird began to shriek from very nearby. It was as loud and startling as if it was sitting on my shoulder, and its plaint was unrelenting. Today, I know it was a Camp Jay, but I wasn’t aware of that at the moment because my concentration was purloined by my question, and the bird’s shriek was an irritant. Eeek! Eeek! Eeek! Eeek! Eeek! it cried—strident, insistent, obliterating all thought. Suddenly, in that momentary emptiness, its cries were transformed and I heard them as It! It! It! It!—the indis- putable answer to my question. I took one more step and the world as I had always experienced it ended. I cannot describe what happened next because in that instant language and thought fell entirely away from my exis- tence. The boundaries between “in here” and “out there” disappeared. The world remained recognizable, as it had always been, but completely stripped of descrip- tive language and concepts. Everything appeared to be a phantom of itself, lumi- nous but without weight or substance. “I” had been replaced. The closest I can come to describing what I felt was an awareness with no physical location, inseparable from the entire universe. Everything was precisely as it had come to be. The world was perfect, without time, eternal, and coming and going as it had always been. Every doubt that I had ever harbored about Zen practice fell away. The timid fearful self I had been defending, aggran- dizing, comforting, and trying to improve for my entire life had been relieved of duty and everything was fine without him. There was nothing I had to “do.” I knew irrefutably that this was what I had been searching for since I first picked up a book about Zen when I was sixteen years old. In the next instant, I understood that it was not all that important. ♦ SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. Inspiring calligraphies by Thich Nhat Hanh, Kaz Tanahashi & more VISIT US ONLINE | STORE.LIONSROAR.COM Our online store is your source for high quality art prints, including Thich Nhat Hanh’s “I have arrived, I am home” (above). Also available are back issues, t-shirts, and more. Every purchase supports the work of the Shambhala Sun Foundation, an independent, non-profit corporation dedicated to the communication of genuine dharma. That means your gift-giving dollars go twice as far. Inspiring calligraphies by Inspiring calligraphies by Inspiring calligraphies by SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2015 71