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Lions Roar : November 2018
air wafting in from my window, I realized that once again, the master’s instruc- tions were paying off. I’d only been here one day, and already I had the respect of many of the inmates—I’d even taught them a thing or two. What amazed me was that none of this jail stuff bothered me. In fact I was enjoying my experience. The next week before I went back, the master asked me if I thought I could fast for the two remaining days of my sentence. I told him I could, and we dis- cussed our plan of attack. Once again I took the bus ride out to the county jail to finish off my obligation to the city of San Francisco. In the early afternoon of the first day, while I was out walking in the day area, I passed a group of eight or nine guys sitting in a circle on the shiny floor. One of them looked up at me and said, “Say, man, could we ask you a question?” “Sure, what is it?” I replied. “Where did you get those shoes?” “These are arhat shoes,” I replied. “We told them, this is even better than a mon- astery. You can sleep a lot more, since you don’t have to work or follow a strict schedule. You can use your sentence to completely turn your life around, or you can just waste this precious time and sit around stewing in your own crap and blaming all your problems on everyone else. All things are made from the mind alone. Start cultivating the Way. The sea of suffering is endless, but with one turn you can swim for the other shore of nirvana. I showed them how to fold their legs into half and full lotus, and instructed them in meditation. When my sentence was up, I walked out on a cloud, stomach empty, spirit soaring, and feeling like I’d really accom- plished something. ♦ Excerpted from Touching Ground: Devotions and Demons Along the Path to Enlightenment, by Tim Testu. Reprinted by permission from Wisdom Publications. HOT OFF THE PRESS wear these in the monastery where I come from.” “What are you, some kind of a monk or something?” “Yeah, I’m an American Buddhist monk,” I said. “A bhikshu.” “Well, what are you in here for?” he asked. “I got a whole bunch of parking tick- ets, and since I don’t have any money, they gave me five days.” “Jesus, that’s something! Are we glad to hear that! We were wondering about you. Sorry man, didn’t mean to bother you.” “No problem,” I said. The next day, this same group flagged me down as I was walking in the yard, and started asking questions about Bud- dhism and the monastery. I knew they were going to ask, and I was ready for them. I told them they could make best use of their time here if they thought of this place as a monastery and not a jail. I was really cranked up. In some ways, I Spirit Rock an insight meditation center spiritrock.org We never sit alone. LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2018 76