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Lions Roar : May 2018
N 2016, after more than two years of searching, my sangha found and purchased a beautiful retreat center in Big Sur, where we could practice together. There were several beauti- ful buildings on the land, and many ancient oak trees to provide shade and beauty. We spent the first half of 2016 preparing it for retreatants. A lovely couple moved in to one of the houses to act as caretakers. We shared dreams about the retreats we would enjoy there and how we would practice on the land. That summer, I received a call from a dharma friend while I was in France. A wildfire was raging through Big Sur. The caretakers were evacuating. There was nothing we could do. We couldn’t stop the raging flames of the forest fire. We couldn’t turn back the elements of wind and heat. Our retreat center burned to the ground. I The Grand Illusion The Daoists have a saying: “There are ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows.” Though this is a profound and inescapable truth, most of us only truly accept half of it. We welcome the joys, but we’re not so accommodating of the sorrows. Sorrow is normal and natural, but we see it as a problem we must solve. The problem isn’t sorrow, though; the problem is we don’t accept sorrow as a natural part of our lives. We try to escape it, to seek its opposite. And our attempts to escape inevitably create suffering. This Lessons from a Wildfire When his community’s beloved retreat center burned to the ground, ANAM THUBTEN took it as a teaching on impermanence. Instead of futilely fighting loss, he says, let it be our invitation to freedom and spaciousness. Dana, the caretaker’s house at Sweetwater Sanctuary, before the fire. PHOTOCOURTESY:SWEETWATERSANCTUARY LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 64