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Lions Roar : November 2018
What’s your practice tradition? Vipassana is my home. However, I’ve been deeply influenced and inspired by Chan teachings and practice as well. Your primary teachers? Ajahn Maha Boowa and Master Sheng Yen. But I bow down in grati- tude to all who have guided me. Your favorite meditation practice? Just sitting. What is your current project? I’m finishing a book due to be published in 2019 by Wisdom Pub- lications entitled Magnanimous Heart: Compassion and Love, Loss and Grief, Joy and Liberation. It’s about meeting all of life’s ups and downs as path. Your favorite virtue? A kind heart. What else matters? Your principal poisons? Attachment and attachment. Your chief characteristic? I have a deep love of learning and an abiding curiosity. If not yourself, who would you be? A nurse or an artist. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Working at a chicken farm. I felt sorry for the chickens. Your idea of misery? Working at a chicken farm. I felt sorry for the chickens. And for me. Your idea of happiness? All of us treating each other with forgiveness and kindness. Name three of your heroes. Etty Hillesum, Tenzin Palmo, James Baldwin. Your favorite author? Sorry to be boring, but it’s the Buddha. Your favorite musician or group? Snatam Kaur. Guilty pleasure? Only pleasures. As I said, no guilt. MEET A TEACHER Narayan Liebenson I WAS BORN in Connecticut and have two sisters, whom I love very much. My mother was Catholic, which is how I was raised, and my father was Jewish, although nonpracticing. I am grate- ful for both backgrounds and have always thought that I haven’t had to struggle with guilt because the two belief systems can- celled one another out. I took the beliefs and rituals of my Catholic training lightly, mostly appreciating the greater context of wonder and mystery, and the silence and spaciousness to be found in many churches. My father’s emphasis on education and service complemented this way of contemplation beautifully. When I was eleven I found a book in the library on rebirth. I can’t remember the name or author but it influenced me pro- foundly. This book also referred to yoga, which I tried to do on my own. I worked briefly at dozens of jobs, such as waiting tables, picking apples, and caring for older people in their homes. After sustained practice in Kundalini yoga, I discovered insight medi- tation and have been guiding and teaching at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center for the past thirty years. ♦ PEGGYBARNESLENART LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2018 27 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE