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Going Full Superman (May 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | May 2014

Going Full Superman

When we think of the Man of Steel, all sorts of powers come to mind: flight, heat vision, near-complete invulnerability. But we often overlook his greatest power: selflessness. KOUN FRANZ on why he and his son aspire to be superheroes.

As a kid, I never really got into comic books. We just didn’t have them around. But now, as an adult, I have an unabashed enthusiasm for superheroes and superhero movies. As silly and over the top as they can be, they speak to me on a deep, aspirational level. They’re like my emotional Kryptonite.

I am moved by the tough, selfless, against-all-odds determination of Batman and touched by the youthful courage of Spider-Man, but I have a special weakness for Superman. It’s not about all the things he can do—it’s how perfectly he embodies his function.

I know that some people didn’t like 2006’s Superman Returns, but there is a moment in the film that defines the character in a way nothing else can. Superman flies up into the atmosphere, stops at that line between blue sky and dark space, and closes his eyes. And he just listens.

In that moment, he is Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of compassion, who hears all the cries of the world and responds with a thousand outstretched, skillful hands. Superman makes a choice to find this vantage point, hovering between the world he protects and the perfect, unrestrained freedom of space, and he listens. Then, in a flash, he turns and speeds toward Earth, toward one of the millions of cries he just heard, to respond. We cheer for him, and we know as we watch that this is not his first time to come to this place or to listen in this way. This is what he does. It’s all he does.

The beauty of superhero stories, for me, is that they invite us to identify with the superhero, to imagine ourselves with those burdens but also with those capabilities. When I watch Superman, I allow myself to be Superman; when I watch Batman, I let myself become him. When the stories take us to their inevitable and unchanging conclusion—that “with great power comes great responsibility”—I hear that as a reminder to myself, even a scolding. We underestimate what we can do. We make excuses. I do. I know I do. But for two hours in a theater, I know how it feels not to. I try on the weight of that responsibility. I sense that awesome power.

Naturally, I got excited about the release of the newest Superman movie, Man of Steel. (It’s now on DVD, et cetera.) And in some ways, I got that same feeling I’ve gotten my whole life, that same resonance. But this time, there is something new in the mix for me, something almost unbearably powerful and sad.

Most of the trailers for Man of Steel strongly emphasize the relationship between Superman and his fathers: Jor-El on Krypton and Jonathan Kent on Earth. In a few cases, the ads are even set to the fathers’ voices. What I find is that as I watch, I am also identifying, for the first time, with the fathers. For sixty seconds, I am watching Superman as if he were my own four-year-old son. I am sending him into that fight, into that danger, hoping he is ready, wanting to say or do exactly what he needs, to offer the words that will spur him to embrace who he most needs to be, who the world needs him to be. Instead of flying into the fight myself, I’m watching my son as he disappears into battle.

It’s wrenching.

It can’t help, of course, that Boy, as I sometimes call him, has taken to dressing as Superman. He has a Superman T-shirt and Superman underpants. The combination is known in our family as “going full Superman.” When he goes full Superman, he feels a little stronger, a little more grown up. I love this, and I take every opportunity to remind him that Superman’s job is not fighting bad guys; it’s protecting everyone else. “Protect” is a word we use a lot at home. He likes to protect his little sister. He likes to protect his friends. Being Superman, he gets to play that it’s his job. And then, if he’s tired of it, he can take it all off and just be a crazy boy.

Two-year-old Girl, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be a superhero. But she is at the magical age where she is starting to gain autonomy in the world. She can do new things every day, all by herself. She makes mistakes, and she gets frustrated, but more often than not, she completely overestimates herself. She thinks she can do anything. It looks as if she’s testing limits, but really, she’s bumping into them. Until she does, she has no idea they’re there.

These are things I want for my children. And when they’re older and their temperaments no longer tend toward playacting, I want them to keep this sense, not only of responsibility and purpose but also of the power to make it all real. I don’t care whether they ever frame it in Buddhist language. If they feel it deeply enough, perhaps all that talk will just be extra. But that’s my language, and so I think in those terms, in phrases like “all beings.” I want them to feel that call, that pull to offer themselves to all beings, everywhere.

At the end of one of the trailers for Man of Steel, we see Jor-El and Superman floating in space, high above Earth. Jor-El says to his son, “You can save them. You can save all of them.” And he means it. His son knows, in that moment, that it’s true.

This is what I most want to tell my kids. This is what I want to tell everyone.

It’s what I want them to believe.

From the May 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

The Doors of Liberation (May 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | May 2014


The Doors of Liberation

No self, no form, no goal: THICH NHAT HANH on the truth we’re distracting ourselves from.

Dualistic notions, such as birth and death, being and nonbeing, sameness and otherness, coming and going, are the foundation of all afflictions. Meditating on the three doors of liberation helps us throw

away these notions. The three doors of liberation, which are taught in every Buddhist tradition, are emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness. Contemplating these three profound truths can help liberate us from fear and suffering. They are our doorways to freedom.

Living mindfully and with concentration, we see a deeper reality and are able to witness impermanence without fear, anger, or despair. Nirvana is not a place to get to. It’s not something in the future that we’re trying to reach. Nirvana is available to us right now. Emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness are called the three doors of liberation because if we meditate on them, they will liberate us from all kinds of discriminative thinking so we can touch our true nature.

Excerpted from the May 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

Run for Freedom (May 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | May 2014

Run for Freedom

Freerunning, or parkour, isn’t merely a daredevil’s game. It’s a way to reappropriate our urban spaces as training grounds for body and mind. VINCENT THIBAULT on how running, jumping, and climbing can beautify our cities—and our lives. With photos by ANDY DAY.

(Click here to view/download a PDF of this article with complete photo essay.)

Parkour is a complete discipline, not to be confused with what young people call tricking or, say, skateboarding or break dancing. That being said, the aesthetics are sometimes underestimated by beginners. Just look at the pioneers of the discipline in action to see how graceful their movements are. These artistic athletes know that elegance is often a reflection of the control of movement. The aesthetic is not the primary purpose of the practice, but comfort begets fluidity, which begets beauty.

Some practitioners see their art as a means of personal fulfillment. They do it in order to face their fears; to get to know themselves more intimately; to improve in how they relate to other people; to get to the essence of things; to see that obstacles, of whatever kind, are an integral part of life and offer many opportunities for advancement.

Parkour is not just a physical discipline; it also helps develop social skills and inner qualities. It leads to a sense of universal responsibility and a sense of ethics, a quiet confidence and joy, a practical wisdom. This is the spirit of chivalry in an urban setting. A spiritual path for the modern samurai, but in the service of the heart, not the dictatorship of ego.

It’s easy to imagine what some of the young people who engage in parkour are thinking about when they say they like parkour for the feeling of “freedom” that it provides. You can jump this way or that way, climb up any wall you encounter, and nobody can stop you. You’re even in the best position to get away from the cops.

But true freedom is above all a state of mind. A mind that is free from disturbing emotions, harmful habits, the comfort of false beliefs, and any and all illusions, especially those relating to one’s own identity. People who achieve this state will always be free, no matter the circumstances in which they find themselves.

With some judicious training (and this has nothing to do with technical competence), parkour can help develop a sense of inner freedom in relation to a sense of freedom in the world. It creates a link between being comfortable with the way our thoughts flow and being comfortable with the way we move our bodies. Parkour mainly involves learning how to move physically, but to move in an efficient, safe, smooth, and, if that is your goal, artistic way, you must be in harmony with your environment. At its optimal level, this harmony with the surrounding environment is only possible if one is vigilant, patient, open, sensitive, and courageous—not qualities of the body but rather of the heart and mind.

With greater control of our bodies, nothing to prove to others, and armed with a whole palette of techniques, we’ll be able to take everyday obstacles in stride, contemplate entirely new horizons, and change our perspective when the need arises. All this provides a tremendous sense of freedom. Of course, true parkour artists are careful not to become too impressed with their own capabilities. Passing over a 3.6-meter wall should not be a source of any more pride than that felt by a fish that knows it can swim upstream.


Undertaking serious training in parkour changes how we perceive things. As Chau Belle, one of the leading figures in the discipline, has said, “Our awareness of our immediate environment increases. We no longer look only ahead, like some kind of robot, or down at our feet, but also upward, left, and right. We begin to see the possibilities that are everywhere.”

It wasn’t an accident that parkour developed in the suburbs. The outskirts of Paris are home to the most diverse physical structures, and you can enjoy a wide range of movements. But even more important, for some young people, physical activity became their main way of fighting boredom. Committing themselves to a healthy and rigorous discipline was not just a way of passing time but also a matter of survival. There were other options, and falling into a life of drugs and crime was too easy. But rather than lead sad lives, bent down under the weight of years of alienation, they decided to see what they—as human beings—were capable of. They were, in their way, great explorers.

If practitioners are discerning in how they train, they can enchant the everyday lives of other people and—it’s not an exaggeration to say—beautify their city. It’s not hard to see that there’s a clear difference between an immature goofball acting out by trashing the urban infrastructure and frightening other people and a considerate artist who leaves the spaces in which he or she trains in immaculate condition and responds in a friendly manner to questions from fascinated observers. It is not a question of putting on a show, but rather participating in a dynamic of sharing. And when we fall, we’re learning about perseverance, rather than showing everybody how violently irritated we can be. You might even say it’s the only way to learn. Dignity, respect, drive, elegance, and vigilance are all qualities that reinforce each other.

Of course it’s true that a handful of parkour movements involves risks, but if we want to take part in authentic parkour training, we can’t be too soft. Minor bruises and a scratch or two are our lot. In fact, the majority of movements are not dangerous (at least not any more than, say, in jogging, playing volleyball or any other sport, or even vegging on a sofa, since a number of studies show that prolonged physical inactivity is one of the worst “activities” there is, although that’s another story).

How sad is our urban walker, petrified at the sight of a patch of ice! And our noble hero cursing at the rusty old gate that refuses to budge? Would our ancestors really have reacted like this? It’s a good question. When we place too much reliance on external conditions, we can easily lose our bearings when conditions change. However, change is inevitable.

When we are able to discover new resources within us, and when confronted with difficulty, we are able to face our fears and thereby understand something of the nature of our egos, windows open. Rigid concepts begin to fade, and stereotypes and labels peel away. We no longer have a desire to prove something to other people, we are more into “being” than “doing”; we are finally ready to welcome existence. Have we ever taken the time to contemplate the beauty of the word “welcome?”


Our discipline—which is called l’art du deplacement, free-running, or parkour—provides a workspace, a way to make friends with our fears, to come to know our personal limitations, to explore their textures and experience their rationale.

The general practice is to try to escape from fear, to flee anything that we believe will affect our fragile equilibrium, to stay all wrapped up in the comfort of familiarity. It is normal to want to avoid pain and seek happiness; it is a principle at the basis of all life (i.e., survival). But to achieve true happiness, and not an artificial or ephemeral substitute, we need insight. And insight is only possible if we stop running away. Everyone has days when they want to stay home tucked under the blankets, but we can’t spend our entire lives doing that. We must abandon our false, albeit comforting, beliefs. We need to face the world. Experience the world.

When we say that parkour enables us to face our fears, people almost invariably think we mean fears such as the fear of heights or the fear of falling. But there are a number of different kinds of fears that can come up in the course of this practice: losing control; fear of loneliness, ridicule, or shame; fear of the unknown, weakness, injury, death or oblivion, disease, and aging. What we really need to do is learn how to identify which fears are our friends and how others hold us back by deforming our perspective of reality. Many fears have their uses, their rationale, and to study how they function is actually quite fascinating.

It’s up to each of us to be good students, to live well; nothing can force us to grow in self-awareness. Sometimes we need to experience fear. This is also true of parkour: to experience our fears, break their stranglehold (or sometimes fail to do so) and not to run away from them, forget about them, or deny them. This is very concrete, a way to come in contact with reality.


Sometimes we feel as though we’re simply too tired to continue training. But is it really true, or is something else going on? Is there a real physical need—and a key protective mechanism kicking in—or just some well-camouflaged laziness? Are we afraid of failing to execute a supposedly simple movement in front of bystanders or other practitioners? Are we lacking confidence in our abilities? If we stop, would that show there’s a pattern of not putting out enough effort? Asking yourself these questions can be a challenging exercise, but real training involves learning not to deceive ourselves. Authenticity is one of the main qualities of the warrior.

The risks found in parkour are not inherent in the discipline itself; the degree of risk is the practitioner’s choice. He or she is responsible for exercising discretion and humility. Of course, even people who do not practice sports are regularly confronted by hazards and a degree of uncertainty, whether they’re conscious of it or not. The parkour artist’s task is to determine which risks, even those that are carefully calculated, facilitate growth and which others only cater to the ego (the exact opposite of growth).

Simply calculating is one thing. Even more dangerous is to set your sights exclusively on measureable achievements. To obsess over results. To reach for a new record. Parkour artists must break with the frantic performance drive instilled by the modern world.


It is natural to fall, to fail to execute a movement, no matter what level of mastery we’ve achieved. The concept of training—of apprenticeship—is fundamental to learning: progressing from what we know to what we don’t, which immediately implies estimating, trying, and erring. No one learns to ride a bike without a bit of hesitation. To get down on ourselves at every failure is to condemn ourselves to permanent incompetence. Being arrogant is the surest way not to learn. Because everyone knows that to learn anything, we must (once again) accept that we don’t know (something).

This is reminiscent of one of the teachings of Zen master Shunryu Suzuki that we might reflect on again and again: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s view there are few.”

Human life has an incredible potential for freedom, for perfection. No other species has the ability to wake up one morning and decide to become better and stronger. We alone have this freedom. We must contemplate this opportunity again and again; we must rejoice in it and make a firm decision to use our intelligence and our time wisely—to use our energy in a constructive way, in a way that conforms to our values.

Thinking about impermanence while reflecting on the preciousness of human existence can lead to unexpectedly powerful insights, if we’ve meditated correctly. It’s challenging at first, but it can help us become less complicated and a lot calmer. Practitioners of parkour can benefit from the exercise; it helps us reset our priorities and begin trading our illusions for clarity and madness for true courage. The idea is not to become more fearful; on the contrary, the reflection helps us take useful and calculated risks and avoid doing stupid things that we might come to bitterly regret. It gives stability to training, provides a reason for learning. Without any insight, enthusiasm can wane. A reflection on the nature of life—at once temporary and precious—combined with humor and compassion can bring about real inner change over the long haul and provide a practical wisdom and lasting joy.

From the May 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

GPS of the Mind (March 2014) Print

Shambhala Sun | March 2014

The GPS in your car can tell you the best road to take, but what helps you navigate life? What you need, says SYLVIA BOORSTEIN, is a...


GPS of the Mind

The GPS in my car never gets mad at me, no matter how many times I turn to avoid the torn-up street she has recommended. She just says, “Recalculating” and directs me to turn right, and then right again, until I am back where she wanted me—on the street blocked by construction.

Again I select an alternative route. She quietly but firmly repeats, “Recalculating,” and I say back, “Hold on. Keep talking if you want. I know where I’m going. I’ll soon be where you want me to be.” When I finally rejoin the route she was aiming for, I almost expect her to say, “Good girl, Sylvia! You did it,” but she never does. We drive together quietly until the next time I need to disobey her instructions and she is right there again, firm but never impatient, ready to straighten me out.

I am trying to cultivate a mind like a GPS. My mind GPS would be ever vigilant to where I am and unwavering in clarity about my destination, all the while never losing its patience and never challenging my confidence.

My car GPS supplies a running graphic of a tiny car driving along my intended route and showing roads branching off from it that it hopes I’ll avoid. It offers advance warnings—“In two miles, keep left”—so I can avoid mistakes.

My mind GPS would help me choose, moment to moment, the route that cultivates and maintains wholesome states in my mind. Any detour would immediately initiate a warning signal: “Leading to Unwholesome! Slow down! Consider! Maybe you need to back up! Or turn around!”

I especially value the Return Home icon on my car GPS, which automatically routes me back to my home address in California. The Return Home icon on my mind GPS would automatically reroute me to Mindful (for clear seeing), Concentrated (for confident stability), and Wise Effort.

Mind GPS is particularly helpful in moments of hurt or confusion, when we are most likely to take the wrong route. Here’s an example of how mind GPS works—how moment by moment it calculates my mental position and guides me toward the wholesome and away from the unwholesome.

I’m with someone beloved to me—a close friend or family member—and suddenly they say something that startles my mind. Perhaps I hear it as an unjust criticism. Or it sounds cavalier. Or foolish. I feel my mind contract around the remark, notice the unpleasantness of that contraction, and feel the impulse to protest arise in my mind.

Seemingly simultaneously (but actually next) I see a “rap sheet” unfurl in my mind listing the many, many times this person has said or done something similar, thus building the case for a protest. But if my mind GPS is alert and steadily intending toward the wholesome, I also see the possibility of relaxing the impulse to act.

This moment of ease allows my mind to return to its normally wider view that includes the many sterling qualities of this beloved person. The confusion in the mind disappears. I can carry on the conversation as if nothing more significant than a sneeze had happened.

When I make the right choice at this fork in the road—avoid the route that leads to tumult and take the one that builds closer bonds of connection—I feel, “Whew! Just dodged a bullet. I could have messed up the afternoon, mine and the other person’s, and I didn’t.”

Or imagine this recent experience: I was standing on a New York City street corner on a cold November evening buying gloves from a sidewalk vendor. I was shifting and tapping my feet side to side trying to warm them.

“Back up a little,” the vendor said to the person behind me. “Don’t crowd in so close.”

“Hey,” the man behind me replied, “I’m just watching the old lady dancing.”

I felt tears in my eyes. I paid for my gloves and left. “Old lady?” “Dancing?”

I continued down the street toward Lincoln Center imagining my mind as a deflating balloon, my sense of myself as chic and sprightly morphing into old and humiliated, and then giving way to a list of self-critical remarks beginning with “You should have remembered to pack gloves!”

I was just about to start an internal lament about how the evening I was anticipating was ruined, how the zest for it that I’d felt in my mind was all gone, when I thought, “Stop! The remark happened back there. The ruining is happening now!”

I started to laugh at this point, thinking how easy it is for my mind to run away with itself down a road going no place good. It’s as if it becomes intoxicated by a whiff of drama—“Such a sad story happened to me today walking down Broadway”—that it forgets that clarity, the plain truth, is the antidote to confusion.

The plain truth is that I am an old woman. And I was, so to speak, dancing at the vendor’s stand. And I did forget to pack gloves.

Also, I was meeting a friend I love for an evening of dinner and a concert on a cold night in New York City, where all the trees on Upper Broadway are wrapped in strings of white lights. It was an easy decision whether to embellish the glove story and suffer or to take the other fork in the mental road and rejoice in my good fortune at being alive and well in this moment.

In the end, I spent a relatively short time wandering on a side road of discontent before rescuing the evening, but I could have done it sooner. I could have avoided a lot of struggle by addressing the pain immediately. I could have, at the moment when I heard the remark and tears came to my eyes, acknowledged to myself, “I’m in pain!” Instinctively, I would have taken some slow, deep breaths—always a comforter to anyone in pain—while I was paying for my gloves.

Perhaps I would have thought to myself, “Relax, sweetheart. These things happen. You got startled. You’ll be fine.” Holding myself in compassion would have inhibited my mind from making negative judgments about myself. And, as I walked on, had I felt that an echo of pain was still reverberating as confusion in my mind, I might have brought my attention to the people all around me and felt supported by their company. I might have appreciated the lights in the trees on Broadway and admired the skill of the people who had strung them all through the branches.

Here is the short formula for recovering from confusing distress. This is the time when the GPS for the mind is the most useful, since it is when we are in most danger of taking an unwholesome path. 

1) Stop! Acknowledge the distress. “I’m in pain” always works for me, regardless of the particular flavor of challenge.

2) Do something to regain your balance. Deep breaths usually work well for me. 

3) Notice how your mind, awakened, sees possibilities clearly.

4) Choose the road that leads to happiness. Pay attention to the present moment, without opinions.

5) Enjoy the relief of a mind restored to ease. This builds confidence and makes it a habit.

Such moments of restoring the mind to comfort happen to me all day long. Things happen. It’s incredibly easy to become annoyed. Or dispirited. Or bewildered by lust, restlessness, or doubt. The Buddha named these energies of confusion the five “hindrances to clear seeing,” because they arise in the mind in response to challenge and subvert clear decision-making.

Probably most of us can recall an instance of finding ourselves eating a slice of pizza or a Dunkin’ Donut and thinking, “How did this happen? I was walking along the street on my way home and suddenly the smell of pizza (or doughnuts) wafted by my nose. Apparently I veered into the store, and here I am eating.”

Although eating a slice of pizza or a doughnut is usually a benign action, sometimes—for people with certain allergies or illnesses—it isn’t. Other impulses, those motivated by clearly unwholesome impulses such as greed, anger, or revenge, are never benign.

A well-functioning mind GPS remembers that between every impulse and resulting action is the possibility of careful reflection. It signals, “Slow down. Think. Where do you want to go? Recalculate!” The experience that triggers the mind GPS into action is always a moment of realizing something does not feel right.

“Where do I want to go?” is the reference point for my practice. If I say, “I think my practice is working,” I don’t mean that I never fall into dismay or never act thoughtlessly. I do. It means I become aware, sooner than I used to, that I’ve taken a wrong turn and am heading into confusion and distress. That moment of clarity dispels confusion and I recognize, from the sense of peace and ease I feel in it, that I’m back on the right track.

Deliberate choosing is the central teaching in the Buddha’s Discourse to His Son Rahula. He advises Rahula to think before, during, and after every action about motivation. “Is what I am about to do (am doing, or just did) for my benefit as well as for the benefit of all beings?” And, of course, the Buddha goes on to say that if the answer is no, then the action should not happen or should stop. Amends should be made for any negative impact that has already happened.

I think it would be easy to misunderstand this instruction as mandating moving very, very slowly all the time and hesitating before any move. That would make ordinary, relational, everyday life awkward. I think it’s actually much easier than that. I think that the Buddha’s instruction to Rahula (and to us) can be understood as, “Cultivate wholesomeness—generosity, patience, candor, kindness—and enjoy the pleasure of their ongoing presence in your mind. Notice any arising of unwholesome states in your mind and discourage them. Steady your attention. (Concentrate!) Recognize these unwholesome states as painful, temporal, and insubstantial and be attentive to their disappearance. (Be Mindful!) Choose to maintain a clear and untroubled mind. (Make Wise Effort!)”

I think as human beings we are born with prototype mind GPSs preset to aim generally in the direction of feeling safe and happy. We do the best we can to make our way through the inevitable challenges of our lives. My practice goal is refining my attention and intention so I am more able to hear my GPS signaling me to notice either “You’re in pain, Sylvia. Recalculate!” or “You are holding steady in a good direction, Sylvia. Continue!”

From the March 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., is a cofounding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the author of many best-selling books on Buddhism and mindfulness, including Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life.


Inside the March 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine Print

Look inside the March 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine

FEATURING: Pema Chödrön's 4 Keys to Waking Up; bell hooks & Eve Ensler on fighting domination and finding love; Sylvia Boorstein's "GPS for the Mind"; Lisa Carver on Yoko Ono; Ruth Ozeki, Natalie Goldberg, book reviews, and more.

Click titles below to read excerpts and select complete articles.

this issue's editorial:

"Buddha's Daughters"

ANDREA MILLER on why this issue of the magazine shouldn't be considered special.


Pema Chödrön on 4 Keys to Waking Up

On retreat with Pema Chödrön at Omega Institute, the Shambhala Sun’s Andrea Miller explores these four essential ways to walk the walk.


The Bearable Lightness of Being

When we honor life but don’t make it a big deal, we lighten up, open up, and become more joyous. The fancy name for that, says Pema Chödrön, is enlightenment.


Being Love

Awash in the pain of betrayal and a failed marriage, Laura Munson practices Pema Chödrön’s teachings on loving-kindness. It’s hard but it helps.


A GPS of the Mind

The GPS in our car tell us the best route to take, but what helps us navigate life? Sylvia Boorstein shows us how to stay on the wholesome road. 

Strike! Dance! Rise!

Fighting domination, finding love, connecting with our bodies—feminist leaders and meditators Eve Ensler & bell hooks in dialogue. 

Plus: When I Enter the City of Joy

In war-torn Congo, Eve Ensler learns what love can really do.


The Work of the Moment

When we and our work are one, says Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, even the most mundane of life’s activities are profound and beautiful.

Plus: Pat O'Hara on how to Make All Your Work Meaningful


Under the Volcano

Vacationing on Hawaii’s Big Island, Judy Panko Reis suffered an unspeakable crime. Decades later, she sees that out of even the darkest violence a new life can emerge.


Thanks to Yoko

Performance artist Lisa Carver celebrates Yoko Ono, who taught her to do what “isn’t done.”


other voices

Empty Graves and Empty Boats

At her grandfather’s grave, Rachel Neumann’s anger erupted, but who was there to yell at in those long-buried remains? We are all like empty boats bumping against each other.


Show Up Exactly As You Are

Taz Tagore, one of the two founders of New York City's Reciprocity Foundation, on taking kids from the streets to a new life. (It starts inside.)


Losing Katherine

She was the kind of person who might suddenly ask, “How do you know love?” Natalie Goldberg on loving and losing a special friend.




Review: Lying, by Sam Harris

Reviewed by Karen Maezen Miller


Books in Brief 

This issue’s roundup features books on conflict resolution, yoga, stress reduction, ecology, and more.

About a Poem

Ruth Ozeki on Ono no Komachi

Shambhala Sun
, March 2014, Volume Twenty Two, Number 4.

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