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Lions Roar : January 2016
PHOTOBYTIFFANYBONNER Just Being Alive Is Enough In 1989 I had a heart attack. As I was leaving the hospital, I stepped out into the sunshine, and I had this sudden realiza- tion. “Wow! I’m alive. I could be dead. Wow, the rest of my life is just a gift.” And then I thought, “Oh, it always has been, from the very beginning. Nobody owed me this life. It was just given to me. Wow!” And in that moment of waking up, I found what a wonderful, rich feeling it is to be grateful to be alive. Just right now, right here, all the time. I don’t have to have anything more special than knowing that just to be alive is enough. The great poet Emily Dickinson said, “To live is so startling it HOT OFF THE PRESS leaves little time for anything else.” And Brother David Steindl- Rast says, “The greatest surprise is that there is anything at all, that we are here.” And from Omraam Mikhäel Aïvanhov, “The day I acquired the habit of consciously pronouncing the words thank you, I felt I had gained possession of a magic wand capa- ble of transforming everything.” So living this life of gratitude has really changed my life. I used to be both quite opinionated and quite ready to criticize anyone who didn’t agree with me. Now I recognize that my life depends on all the lives around me. We all support each other. None of us could take care of ourselves in a world all alone. We’re so completely interwoven Good Evening, Bodhisattvas She has been a force in American Buddhism—as a pioneering practitioner, a dharma teacher, and the first female abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. In this excerpt from her new book, Seeds from a Boundless Life, ZENKEI BLANCHE HARTMAN reflects on “The Great Matter” that has driven and sustained her. Zenkei Blanche Hartman took ill after a fall earlier this year. She is currently at an assisted living facility close to San Francisco Zen Center, where her health continues to improve. Keep up with her status at the website “Boundless Life,” at zenkei.sfzc.org. SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2016 81