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Lions Roar : March 2016
CHUCKLIEF MEET A TEACHER Judy Lief I GREW UP IN IOWA, went to Luther College in the mid- to late sixties, and then spent a year in India as a Fulbright English tutor. In 1971, while attending Columbia graduate school in sociology and Asian stud- ies, I met Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. This was at his first meditation center, Tail of the Tiger in Vermont. The next year, I dropped out of school, took refuge, and moved to Boulder, Colorado, where Trungpa Rinpoche lived. I worked as a precision welder, divorced and remarried, sold cheese, and joined the maintenance department at what was then the Naropa Institute. After a while, I became editor-in-chief of Vajradhatu Publications, had two daughters, and was dean of Naropa Institute for five years. Since then, I’ve lived in Nova Scotia, the New York area, Vermont, and— finally—Boulder again. ♦ What is your practice tradition? Tibetan Buddhism (Kagyu–Nyingma) and Shambhala. Primary teachers? Ven. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, my parents, my children and grandchildren, my dogs, the many people who annoy me. What are your current projects? Teaching, leading annual retreats on Trungpa Rinpoche’s Profound Treasury, working with The Contemplative Alliance and the Global Peace Initiative of Women, serving as head teacher for the tenth annual Courageous Women, Fearless Living Cancer Retreat. Plus: organizing my photos, cleaning my closet, and learning to play the ukulele. Favorite meditation practice? (1) When I am no longer meditating and (2) when lojong slogans crack me up. Recommended dharma books? I like and dislike them all. My favorite is not yet written. Your principal poison? I have no idea—so many to choose from. Ask my husband... No, on second thought, don’t. And don’t ask my children, either. Your idea of happiness? Puppies, babies, little green shoots appearing in the spring, fresh tomatoes, red wine, good coffee, cuddling, grandchildren, good food, maples in autumn, moments of connection, time alone, sunny days, thunderstorms, being surprised by spontaneous gestures of tenderness, soaking in a hot bath, not trying to be special, the joy of doing something wholeheartedly. Your idea of misery? Persistent mosquitos, being misunderstood, betrayal, bad food, encountering sor- row you can’t alleviate, being overbooked, being underbooked, forgetting names, getting sick, losing everybody one by one. If not yourself, who would you be? Someone brave with a rich husband financial backer like Alexandra David-Neel, or maybe a delightful drinker like Julia Child. Name some of your heroes. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, for his fearlessness and outrageousness; Eleanor Roosevelt, for her commitment to fairness and justice; Martin Luther King, Jr., for his faith, steadfastness, and vision; women, for persevering. What’s for dinner? Anything Chuck (my husband) cooks is guaranteed to be yummy. A motto that represents you? What you see is what you get. Guilty pleasure? Why feel guilty about pleasure? LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2016 37 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE