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Lions Roar : January 2016
©MARISSADUTTON MEET A TEACHER Ethan Nichtern MY PARENTS WERE EARLY students of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, so I am a second-generation American Buddhist. My father is a musician and dharma teacher and my mother a painter who became a psychotherapist. I grew up in Manhattan. I have wanted to be a writer since the sixth grade, and I had no thought that I would teach Buddhism until I got to college, where practicing meditation helped me work through confusion and depression. I am the founder of the Interdependence Project, a nonprofit based in New York City that’s dedicated to secular Buddhist practice, activism, and the arts, and a shastri in the Shambhala Buddhist community. My most recent book is The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path. ♦ What is your practice tradition? My primary practice tradition is Shambhala, but I also study Insight Meditation, Zen, and other Tibetan teachings. I also practice hatha yoga, and I don’t think I could have a meditation practice anymore without a body practice too. Primary teachers? Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche—love him to pieces. What are your next projects? A new book called The Dharma of The Princess Bride and expanding a novella I’ve written into a longer novel that takes place over twenty years. Recommended dharma books? Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham, The Myth of Freedom by Chög- yam Trungpa, and Faith by Sharon Salzberg. Your favorite virtue? Generosity. Your principal poison? Passion. All passion, all the time. Your idea of happiness? A society where everyone has value and voice. Your idea of misery? Miscommunication and mistrust among people who should be on the same team. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Working at a meditation center. That’s also the answer to the question “What’s the best job you’ve ever had?” Name three of your heroes. Ralph Ellison, Yeshe Tsogyal, and Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Your favorite musician or group? I will have to go with Radiohead. I’ve also been listening to Sharon Van Etten a lot on Spotify. That’s a very “Williamsburg” answer, but that’s who I am. Your favorite current TV show? I thought the last episode of Mad Men included a beautiful commentary on spiritual materialism. I’ve been rewatching The Wire. What’s for dinner? I think I have finally perfected searing fresh salmon so the skin is well-crisped. A motto that represents you? I aspire to this Tibetan slogan: “If you can practice, even when distracted, then you are well-trained.” Guilty pleasure? Black-and-white cookies. SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2016 37 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE