Leonard Cohen burns, and we burn with him (May 2013)
Shambhala Sun | May 2013
Leonard Cohen burns, and we burn with him
“God is a fire,”
said Nikos Kazantzakis. “He burns and we burn with Him.” Art, passion, and Zen are fires too—burning the self, leaving behind
only ashes and essence. They burn in Leonard Cohen’s heart, says his admirer PICO IYER, and light up the darkness for us.
his great book of changes and homemade koans, Silence, John
Cage defines the purpose of music. “Music is edifying,” the devoted student of
D.T. Suzuki wrote, “for from time to time it sets the soul in operation. The
soul is the gatherer-together of the disparate elements (Meister Eckhart), and
its work fills one with peace and love.” We have, of course, soul music, and
who can resist the transports of the Reverend Al Green or Aretha Franklin? But
we also have a more reserved and serene music that is of, for, and from the
soul. As Cage notes a little earlier in his book, a musician once wanted to give
up his art and become a full-time disciple of Swami Ramakrishna. “Remain a
musician,” his teacher said. “Music is a means of rapid transportation."
The music of Leonard
Cohen is not notably rapid. A friend recently told me that he mistakenly played
a Billy Joel record too slow, at sixteen rpm, and the result sounded uncannily
like Cohen. And Cohen’s music is not obviously transporting, in the way that U2
can be, with their building chords of imminence, or the otherworldly
post-verbal soundscapes of the Icelandic band Sigur Ros. Leonard Cohen takes
you in, not up. Some might even say his songs are not always music; my Japanese
wife runs out of the room whenever I put on late Cohen because to her it sounds
too much like the Buddhist chanting she grew up hearing through the hills of
Kyoto at dusk.
gatherings-together are unambiguously about the soul—its terrors, its
betrayals, its hesitations, its longing to give itself over. A casual listener
notices how often the singer uses the word “naked.” A fledgling Cohenite hears
him saying, “I need to see you naked in your body and your thought.” But the
person who lives with the songs realizes that what makes the writer special
is that he’s not rendering others naked, but himself.
After he met the Zen master
Joshu Sasaki Roshi—in 1969, just as he began his recording career—and started
sitting with him, Cohen’s commitment to silence and obedience grew so strong
that, by 1984, he was giving us his plangent, classic psalm, “If It Be Your
Will,” in which (like Ramakrishna’s disciple) he seemed ready to give up even
the speech and song by which he offered himself to the world if his master so
“Soul” is not a word
to use in Buddhist discourse, of course, but there’s no doubting that Cohen
would echo many of the sentiments of that other unsparing Zen student, Cage:
“People say sometimes, timidly: I know nothing about music but I know what I
like. But the important questions are answered by not liking only but disliking
and accepting equally what one likes and dislikes. Otherwise there is no access
to the dark night of the soul.
Or, as Cage also put
it: “I have nothing to say and I am saying it.”
It's one of the unexpected beauties of the age that
Leonard Cohen, rather suddenly, has begun to enjoy his fourth—or fifth—Indian
summer, to the point where everyone I run into, from Singapore to Melbourne and
Kyoto to New York, seems to be talking about him or attending to his messages
in the dark. For those who have begun to despair of our celebrity culture, this
is a typically Cohenesque instruction in the dismantling of celebrity and the
deeper meaning of culture. After he found out, in 2005, that his longtime
much-trusted manager seemed to have made off with nearly all his savings,
rendering him a poor man, he went on the road again, at the age of
seventy-three, and performed 250 three-hour concerts from Istanbul to Hanging
Rock, deep into his seventy-seventh year. The more he deferred to his accompa-
nying musicians onstage, the more audiences were moved and impressed with him
(a rock star who was offering humility and attentiveness?); the more he sang,
unflaggingly, about sickness, old age, and death, the more listeners started
taking him as a guide to life, the rare spiritual being who didn’t seem to be
peddling any creed or presenting himself as anything other than mortal.
In his mid-seventies,
Cohen’s old song “Hallelujah” took over the number one and number two spots in
the British charts, and a host of American Idol-style cover versions made it the
fastest- selling Internet download in European history. The record he made last
year, with the deliberately ungrabby title of Old Ideas, was number one in
seventeen countries and reached the top five in nine others. The result has
been incongruities as rich in irony and surprise as any of Cohen’s songs about
the future: amid the glittery singles bars and temples to conspicuous
consumption of the Los Angeles Live entertainment center, I walked not long ago
into a Starbucks and was greeted by the album being featured that week: the
work of an ordained Zen monk mumbling about how “None of us is deserving the
cruelty or the grace.”
When people learn
that I’ve been lucky enough to spend a little time with the man, they often
want to hear more. All I can say is: “Leonard Cohen is like one of those old
Eastern poets of whom he’s been writing for half a century or more—alone in his
simple hut on the top of a mountain, with a pen and paper and a bottle of wine
nearby. Perhaps also, in the case of this unorthodox hermit, a beautiful
of what fascinates so many about Cohen is the mixture of
intimacy and elusiveness: few writers render themselves so seemingly open and
unadorned on the page, and yet few offer so rich a sense of having no interest
in explaining anything away. It’s as if—like many of our deepest artists, from
Emily Dickinson to Melville—the more he sits still in a room, plumbing the
secrets of the interior, the more he sees how much externals are beyond his
grasp. If he’s always evinced a keen, tough-minded, unyielding interest in
control, it’s because he knows how much cannot be controlled, in love or faith
One of the beauties
of Sylvie Simmons’ new Cohen biography, I’m Your Man, which instantly becomes
the definitive sourcebook for all material on the man, is that she brings to
Cohen much of the discretion, perceptiveness, tight focus, and wit that he
brings to the world. The deeper strength is that she doesn’t just dig up
Cohen’s water-safety certificate in summer camp, or point out that he recorded
parts of his first album in the same converted Greek– Armenian Orthodox Church
where Miles Davis recorded Kind of Blue. She traveled everywhere to speak to
more than a hundred of the singer’s oldest associates. Nearly every one, whether
child- hood playmate or former lover, cousin, or record producer, independently presents us with a portrait of an uncommonly courtly, gracious, and
impeccable soul who’s never liked to be at the center of attention and who,
having grown up with great wealth and expectation, has always hungered for
“He’s humble, but
also fierce,” says Rebecca de Mornay, his onetime love. “He has this subtext of
‘Let’s get down to the truth here. Let’s not kid ourselves.’” Marianne Ihlen,
the Norwegian beauty who shared a simple room on the Greek island of Hydra with
him, says, “He was a gentleman, and he had that stoic thing about him and that
smile he will try to hide behind: ‘Am I serious now or is all this a joke?’” If
a man is known by the company he keeps, Cohen seems to have found—or helped
encourage—people who reflect back his elevation and determination to see
things on a larger canvas. And he has remained as unswervingly loyal to them as
they, in pretty much every case, have been to him.
was raised, as Simmons aptly points out,“in a house of suits.” His
father was the very proper owner of a high-end clothing business who became one
of the first Jewish commissioned officers in the Canadian Army, his mother a
Russian rabbi’s daughter who was warm, volatile, and occasionally subject to
depression. That mix of formality and emotionalism is what gave his work its
edge, its polish from the beginning; here was a passionate man in a fancy suit.
And his deep sense of connection to his priestly forebears—his grandfather was
president of a synagogue—seems to have left Cohen with an innate respect for
discipline and ceremony, steadfast Judaic roots that have allowed him to bring
Jesus and the Buddha and St. Paul into his songs of longing.
It’s hard not to
feel, in fact, that he was made for the Zen life from the outset, with his
devotion to ritual and order, his love of simple spaces, his concentration upon
essentials. Part of what makes him so hard to catch is that he’s always one
step ahead of you in his thinking (dismissing “charismatic holy men” just as
you’re about to accuse him of following—or even being—one), but what keeps him
so close to us, what allows us to feel he’s speaking to us, is the directness
with which he takes that very tendency to task.
The other force that
formed him, surely, is Canada, which grounded him in an ideal mix of Old World
and New or, in Simmons’ nice phrase, “archaic language...with contemporary
irony.” He’s always seemed to live at a distance from himself and been ready to
play with masks in a way that’s less familiar—more threatening, perhaps—to many
below the forty-ninth parallel.
Those who have
thrilled to his recent tours may be surprised to learn that both stage fright
and a genuine lack of confidence in his singing have often made live
performances an ordeal for him. Before his first tour, he had his oldest
friend, a sculptor, make a mask for him—a “live death mask,” in Simmons’
phrase—though in the end he never wore it, perhaps because he’d perfected a
persona that was distraction enough.
After his father
died, when Cohen was nine, he was left in a house of women—his sometimes
mercurial and, as he put it, “Chekhovian” mother and his elder sister. In his
yearbook at Westmount High School (where he was a cheerleader), he wrote:
“Ambition: World Famous Orator...Prototype: the little man who is always
there.” Not long thereafter, falling in with a group of raffish Montreal
writers, he established himself within a few years as the country’s leading young
poet and a wild Joycean novelist. He’s only been comfortable, it’s tempting to
think, when stuck in no set position, far from any fixed self. When recording
in Nashville, Cohen used a Jew’s harp on more than half the cuts he made;
touring with his backup group across Europe in 1979 and 1980, he would lead the
others in a monastic chant in Latin—Pauper Sum Ego (“I Am a Poor Man”)—while
Joshu Sasaki sat quietly reading in the back of the tour bus. The first time he
met Sasaki Roshi, the small Zen master, now 105 years old, who set up the first
Rinzai center in the U.S., Cohen was most impressed that the teacher spoke at a
friend’s wedding about the ten vows of Buddhism, one of which forbids drugs and
alcohol, and then devoted himself to drinking down one cup of sake after
another. Recently, however, that same tendency has brought Sasaki more and more
controversy and criticism as female students have came forward with stories
of longstanding sexual misconduct. Yet underneath all the surfaces and gambits
Cohen is someone rock solid at the core: after his then 18-year-old son, Adam,
was involved in a serious car crash in 1990, Cohen spent the better part of
four months at his boy’s bedside in a Montreal hospital, often reading aloud
from the Bible. He’s “developed the tenacity and character to sit still within
the suffering,” de Mornay says, and even though he’s never been shy of sex and
drugs—extending acid to one woman on the tip of his white handkerchief— he’s
never seemed to kid himself that running from the truth will solve anything.
His songs rarely give himself the benefit of the doubt, but also don’t spend
too much time wondering where the arrow in his side came from. Simmons has
worked heroically, for more than ten years, to unearth every detail and to evoke
every Cohen setting from the Chelsea Hotel to his monastic cabin. But perhaps
her greatest strength, as she clears the ground around Cohen, is to leave a
space in the middle as rich and enigmatic as an empty chair. More than
presuming to tell us who Cohen is, she often—and usefully—tells us who he
isn’t, how far he lives from our projections and myths.
He was never, for one
thing, a rebel, even though he’s always gone his own way; he ignores
revolutionaries as much as he ignores the status quo they’re reacting against.
He never felt at home amid the looseness of the Beats nor what he saw as the
naïveté of the hippies (he was more in his element, she suggests, amid the
urban experiments of Warhol’s Factory). He has never been a pacifist or vegan
or New Ager. Touring Europe in 1970, he named his supporting band the Army, and
three years later, he went to Israel the day after the Yom Kippur War broke
out. Hoping to enlist, he ended up performing up to eight concerts a day for
Israeli soldiers around the desert; he once—perhaps in part to provoke and
evade those who would pin an idea on him—confessed to a “deep interest in
At the same time,
he’s never been the dour or humorless soul some imagine from the songs;
everyone who knows him testifies to his being, as one backup singer says, “one
of the funniest people I’ve ever met.” And a large part of his magnetism comes
from his ability to efface himself. “He moves into leadership naturally,” a
friend since boyhood, Nancy Bacal, points out, “except that he remains
invisible at the same time. His intensity and power operate from below the
surface.” When asked to draw a portrait of his vital organs in a book in which
many others had done the same, he simply wrote, “Let me be the shy one in your
book.” Yet his songs strip him bare in public with a lack of shyness few other
artists would dare.
The confiding air, on
record, in person, draws you in, but that closeness is best enjoyed so long as
you remember the distances that remain. Women have always been the ones to
respond most intensely to Cohen’s seeming openness and vulnerability, and not
be distracted by his strategies and fine words. It was women who first gave his
songs prominence—Judy Collins, Nico, Buffy Sainte-Marie—and it’s Sharon
Robinson and Anjani Thomas who have cowritten many of his songs in recent
years. His sound engineer for almost four decades, unusually for the
profession, is a woman, Leanne Ungar. His gruff croak has always been
decorated— made musical—by the high sweet chime of female voices in the
More deeply, it is
women who have always been wisest to the competing demands of the singer and
the man, as he hungers for company and adventure even while needing to be
alone, longs for surrender even as (in Simmons’ fine formulation) he always
needs “freedom, control, and an escape hatch.” The biographer excavates some of
his searching letters (often to say good-bye) to Marianne, and tracks down the
Suzanne of his famous song (now living in a wooden caravan in Santa Monica and
writing her autobiography by hand). She extracts beautiful sentences from
Suzanne Elrod, the mother of Cohen’s son and daughter, and talks to his recent
partner, Anjani Thomas, in part about the difficulties of such a solitary
perfectionist being involved in such a collaborative exercise as music. From
all of them she seems to have picked up a spirit of wry devotion, of being
alert to his maneuvers and his needs and yet ready to forgive much, precisely
because he remains such an honorable and often selfless character.
As Joni Mitchell put
it, indelibly, in “A Case of You”:
I met a woman
a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
she said “Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed”
distinguishes Leonard Cohen from most is that he has
made a special art out of both his fallenness and his grasp of a higher
perspective. He’s given sorrowful and lasting voice to what happens when the
self dissolves, even as he’s never denied that his own self may still be
fractious and disobedient and ready to turn on its better side. When being in
the monastery got too much for him, he’d get into his car and slip off to a
McDonald’s down the mountain for a Filet-O-Fish before heading home to watch TV
(often The Jerry Springer Show), until the antsiness had been worked out of his
system. At the same time, one of the most charismatic and sought-after singers
in the world has spent decades driving his aged Zen teacher to doctors’
appointments and fetching him chicken soup.
The remarkable thing
about Cohen’s recent work is that he can hold a hundred thousand people captive
at a concert in Glastonbury, England, by singing of emptiness and the self as
nothing but smoke. More than many a Zen writer, from Gary Snyder to, in fact,
John Cage, he harks back to the classic Eastern tradition of devoting most of
his late work to death. Cage, for example, wrote beautifully about the clarity
that arises out of meditation and how “the acceptance of death is the source of
all life”; Cohen pushes even further, toward not just an accepting, but a
shrugging embrace of extinction. He employs the self to cut through the
self—writing so personally, he touches some impersonal core in us—and he voices
the truths of meditation while always acknowledging that he’s not in full
possession of them (he begins his most recent album by mocking any claims to
being a “sage” or “man of vision,” and admitting rather to being a “lazy
bastard living in a suit”). When people acclaim him as a wise man today, it’s
partly because he seems so alert to his follies; when they reach toward him for
his radiance and strength, it’s not least because he is so acutely aware of how
soon radiance and strength will give out.
Whenever I spend time
with Leonard Cohen, I’m spellbound by the droll gravitas, the warmth, the
constant solicitude, and the extraordinary gift with words. But when I come
away from the small house in a very rough part of Los Angeles that he shares
with his daughter and grandson, I realize I’ve been most moved by what you
don’t hear so much on the records: his deep commitment to his kids, the
seriousness and voraciousness of his reading, especially on matters of the
spirit, the depth of his silences. Many a visitor finds herself just sitting
with him in his small garden, saying nothing, enjoying a communion deeper than
personality or intention.
I look at him from
one angle and see the flawlessly cool and stylish heartthrob who made my wife
weak at the knees just by offering her a cigarette. I look at him from another
angle and see a very shy, bookish boy with a mischievous, rather sheepish grin.
The man who has everything has always longed, it seems, to be—to have—nothing.
In the end , of course, what matters—as Cohen himself would most eloquently stress—is the
work, not the man. And from the beginning, Cohen’s two themes have been
suffering and seeing things as they are, the latter a particularly urgent
concern for one who feels so strongly a hunger for romance. Some writers—Gary
Snyder, say, or Jim Harrison—have drawn upon their Zen practice to express a
wide-awake, embracing transcription of all that the natural world might offer
us, in its mixed beauty and capriciousness; others—such as Peter Matthiessen or
Cage— have gravitated more toward the austere elevation and cutting away of
illusions that Zen study fosters, as if to pare away at every excess until what
remains is what is, nothing more, nothing less.
Cohen, by nature and
background, clearly belongs with the latter group, and has never been
interested in “first thought, best thought.” He labors over songs for more than
a decade and will keep making changes and adding twenty-second thoughts till
the very last minute. More than eighty notebooks went into “Hallelujah.” What
he’s brought to the expression of the Zen tradition is an undistracted and
sophisticated psychological acuity. Insofar as Zen can try to break down our
attachments to theories and notions of the self, through hard labor and relent-
less discipline, Cohen has been as unwavering a student as any, finding in the
monastery a perfect way to be alone in company and to unearth a silence that’s
“communicative.” Yet he habitually refers to Zen as a “hospital for the broken-hearted,” and the words he uses again and again in his songs are “panic” and
He gives us a sense
of what Zen training leads toward, in other words, but he never glosses over
the anger and confusion that brought him to it and remain. That’s why, even
after thirty years of hanging out with Sasaki, he still felt the need to come
down from the mountain and amplify the teaching elsewhere. By early 1999, Cohen
had been a monk for five and a half years, and all he felt was a depression and
emptiness as deep as any, befit- ting one who’d “come to the end of the road.”
His rigor and his restlessness refuse to settle for easy answers and I was
impressed, talking to him in his monastery, when he told me that he had no real
interest in making music again, and that he’d given up smoking and would never
go to India because of its indiscipline and disorder. When I saw him four
months later, he had a synthesizer in his cabin and a cigarette in his hand
and, not many seasons on, he was spending five months at a stretch in India.
Some of the most
moving passages in Simmons’ book describe Cohen’s trips to Mumbai to sit every
morning at the feet of Romesh Balsekar, the late former bank president who used
to give informal talks on nondualism every morning in his apartment. The
wandering rock star stayed in an anonymous two-star hotel and occasionally took
friends to an unassuming tea stall; he declined every invitation from the rich
and famous, but at one point went to a taxi driver’s home in the slums. He
never went in for psychology, Simmons (herself British) points out, because
“his dignity and an almost British stiff upper lip” forbade it, but he put
himself through even more intense challenges in trying to break through
divisions in the self and in the world.
The other thing that
comes across, again and again, is his kindness. We read of his driving across
L.A. to help a receptionist he didn’t know well find her long-haired cat (and
then ministering to the cat close-up, chanting into its forehead, even as his
allergy to cats reduced him to sniffling and tears). He’s always tended to
others with a gentleness and thoroughness he hasn’t often extended to himself.
At the National Film Board of Canada, I once heard about a street person who’d
been suddenly admitted to hospital. When the doctors asked him how he’d pay for
his treatment, he kept on saying, blithely, “My friend Leonard will take care
of it.” The physicians took this as further proof of derangement—until the
checks started regularly arriving, signed, “Leonard Cohen."
In the realm of song,
it’s his unflinchingness, mingled with his polished depth and craft, that will
make him endure. Bob Dylan gives us riddles, often to throw us off his trail.
Leonard Cohen gives us riddles that take us deeper and deeper into the heart of
things, and the paradoxes he chooses to embody on our behalf: the fact that we
cannot always resolve our longing for love and the sensual world with the need
to find our own truth; the fact that we know the truth of impermanence but hide
from it at every other moment; the way we break every rule we’ve made for
ourselves and then pretend it’s somebody else’s fault. “Let me cry Help beside
you, Teacher,” he was writing way back in 1961.
What he’s done, as
man and artist, is to express his most anguished feelings in a formal frame
that gives them both precision and suggestiveness. And seem to take everything
seriously except himself (which means he can’t take seriously his taking of
everything seriously, either—another reason, perhaps, why he’s always been
highly popular in Europe, and fairly popular in Canada, but often failed to
find an audience in the U.S.).
The deeper you go
into the self—and its erasure—the more, I suspect, you will get from Cohen. The
name Sasaki gave him, “Jikan,” often mistranslated (not least by me), is
rendered by Simmons as “the silence between two thoughts.” When the singer
Ronee Blakley referred to the little black-robed Japanese man who sat in on
some Cohen recording sessions in 1977, she called him “the kind of man you
wanted to be around, funny, kind, and disciplined.” That sounds like an
unusually good description of Cohen, too.
If you really want to
know who the man is, though, and who he isn’t, the only place to turn is the
songs. Everything is provisional, they tell us, and in our suffering lies our
truth. “Earth has no escape from Heaven,” as Eckhart put it, and we can’t
expect to find holiness anywhere or expect not to find it either. Death is
round the corner, the jig is up, and that’s what enables us to see, to briefly
cherish the light. “You have to sit in the very bonfire of [your] distress,”
Cohen told a visitor to Mount Baldy, “and you sit there till you’re burned away
and it’s ashes and it’s gone.” Few artists have given us the burning and the
ashes and the going with such clarity. In his burning, Cohen lights the
Photo by Charla Jones
Americans in Paris (May 2013)
Shambhala Sun | May 2013
Americans in Paris
Though the climb was steep, the view was expansive. RACHEL NEUMANN on being hot, hungry, thirsty, and tired, but still having a
Perhaps you know what
it’s like loving someone so much and with such astonishment at their
complicated and fragile existence that you rashly promise them something you
have no hope of delivering, such as a trip to the moon or a visit to the top of
the Eiffel Tower at midnight. My eldest daughter, Luna, was three years old and
fascinated by pictures of the Eiffel Tower when I made such a promise.
“Someday,” I told
her, “we’ll go there together.”
“When?” she asked.
I should have said,
“When the right conditions manifest. Instead I said, “When you are seven.” By
then, I figured, she’d have forgotten all about it. She would be obsessed with
horses or soccer or something else more accessible.
I was wrong. Every
birthday, she reminded me that she was one year closer to our big trip. Every time
she saw the tower on a T-shirt, a bag, or a poster, she’d drag me over to
stare. Then, unfairly and without warning, she turned seven. We were still in
Oakland, our suitcases gathering dust in the basement. I had to explain that
there was going to be a slight delay; we would make it to Paris, I assured her,
but I couldn’t say exactly when. We would have to wait for the right conditions
Two and a half years
later, they did. It was the thirtieth-anniversary celebration of Plum Village,
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Zen monastery in southern France, and I was invited to
attend. We could stay in Paris for a couple of days, then take the train to
Plum Village. My seventy-two-year-old mother, a student of Vipassana meditation
with four years of high school French, was available to come and help with the
kids. I had enough reward miles to get at least one of us a plane ticket. Plum,
my youngest daughter, was old enough to lug her own suitcase around without
help. It was time to go.
We borrowed a flat in
Montparnasse and slept on thin mattresses on the floor. The Eiffel Tower was
in our sight lines, but there were still hurdles. One of the elevators to the
top of the tower was broken. Advance tickets had sold out months before. There
was a two-and-a-half-hour wait to get into the tower’s middle floor, then
another long line to the one elevator to the top. We were all jet-lagged, and
both kids were developing colds. We went anyway.
We arrived at 7:30
p.m. with a backpack full of water, sweat- shirts, and the last of our
carefully hoarded pretzels from the plane. We settled into the back of a line
that spanned the plaza and spilled down the sidewalk. I heard snippets of
Japanese, French, English, Spanish, German, and other languages I couldn’t
In less than thirty
minutes, we were restless. Luna needed to pee. Plum was thirsty. My mother, who
had been trooping all around Paris, wasn’t feeling well and needed to sit down.
I glanced longingly at the grass nearby. My mom could rest and I could go with
the girls to take care of their needs, but we’d lose our much-coveted place in
what was now a three-hour line.
Then I noticed the
person waiting in front of us. He was a solidly built man in his mid-seventies,
with pale skin and a balding crew cut. He wore khakis, mirrored aviator
sunglasses, a button- down shirt, a silver fighter-jet pin, and a slight frown.
American, I guessed, but a culturally different kind of American than we were.
I doubted that we had much in common.
Still, needing a
little help, I said hello. It turned out his name was Jim and he worked at an
Air Force base only a few hours from where we live in California. He was in
Paris on his honey- moon and was waiting for his wife. He offered to keep our
place in line for as long as we needed, and we rushed to the bathroom while my
mom made a grateful beeline for the grass.
When we came back,
Jim’s wife, Linda, had joined him. She had a warm smile and short gray hair and
cheerfully told us that the whole honeymoon trip had been a big surprise. She
hadn’t even known where they were traveling until they got to the airport. But
when she looked up at the Eiffel Tower, Linda’s smile disappeared. She was
terrified of heights, she admitted, and didn’t even like going to the second
floor of most buildings.
By the time we had
got near the front of the line, we had become one group with our line mates.
When I took Plum to find some water and the guard didn’t want to let us back in
the line, Jim and Linda protested. When we finally got to the front and they
tried to put us in two separate groups, we linked arms, refusing to be
As soon as we were
packed into the elevator, all of Luna’s excitement evaporated. She has a fear
of elevators and hadn’t quite understood that traveling in one was a required
part of reaching the top of the tower. But while Luna was a little scared,
Linda was petrified. As the closed metal box began to rise, she shut her eyes
tight and held Luna close. When we got to the middle floor of the tower and the
elevator opened, Linda tumbled out, taking deep breaths of the fresh cool air.
Soon she and her husband were lost in the crowd and we threaded our way to the
guardrail, where we could look down from our great height at the city below.
Paris in the last of the evening light.
Brightly lit boats
made their way down the Seine, and I could make out the gargoyles guarding the
top of Notre Dame. At that moment, the yellow lights of the tower itself
started flashing, and Luna and Plum’s gasps of amazement could be heard even
over the clicks of the hundreds of cameras.
I looked at the
lengthy line still ahead of us, which snaked all along the platform toward the
next ticket line and elevator that would take us to the top. We’d started our
journey at the bottom over four hours ago. Now we’d run out of water and snacks
and we were hot and grimy—our clothes were sticking to our skin. Though no one
had voiced a single complaint, Plum’s eyelids were sagging and Luna was
starting to list to one side. The kids were both sneezing regularly. “Anyone
want to go home?” I asked hopefully. “No way,” they chorused without a second’s
hesitation. My mom remained silent. She had the grim look in her eyes of a
mountain climber who had nowhere to go but up.
We got into the next
line, settling into another hour wait. The middle floor of the tower wasn’t
large, and we were corralled between two narrow metal railings that zigzagged
back and forth, as if we were in line for a popular ride at an amusement park.
We were also sandwiched in the middle of a large group of chain-smoking French
teenagers who continuously jostled and bumped each other in the hopes of
getting as much “accidental” physical contact as possible. I sagged against the
metal railing and considered taking a nap on the dirty concrete floor. As I
looked for an escape route or a place to lie down, I saw Linda and her husband
walk past. Linda’s head was down, her gaze focused anywhere but out, and she
stuck close to Jim, so that the whole side of his body shielded her view of the
edge. Linda’s face was rosy and shiny with sweat and Jim’s broad shoulders
slumped, but when we waved them over to say hello they told us that they too
were determined to reach the top.
“Join us,” I called,
and it wasn’t just a polite gesture. Somehow over the course of our epic
waiting, we’d started to need each other for moral support. But our new friends
were stuck on the other side of the metal railing. To get to us, they would
need to duck and swing under the hip-high metal bar. Somewhere behind us, a
baby, up way past bedtime, started to wail. Jim bent down and with a hunched
shuffle crossed under the railing but Linda stood there frozen, torn between
her fear of heights and the desire to be with our group. The French teenagers
began a raucous version of the French national anthem. The baby’s piercing
wails quieted to indignant whimpers. Linda took a deep breath, threw her purse
and her jacket to her new husband, then in one graceful move swung under the
bar like a fearless child on the playground. We reached out and caught her,
pulling her toward us.
Exhausted and parched
but all together and smiling, we arrived at the top of the tower at half-past
midnight. Paris, cool and lovely in the dark gray night, sparkled below us. In
between yawns, we oohed and aahed and took pictures. We peered down at the
plaza, now nearly empty, the ticket booth and snack bar shuttered for the
night. Luna took a last picture of herself and Linda, arms raised in triumph,
just a couple of feet from the edge. And then we said good-bye to our new
friends, exchanging numbers, heartfelt hugs, and sincere wishes for each
other’s health and happiness. The triumph of our successful ascent gave Luna
and Plum a last injection of energy, and they skipped and sang the whole long
way back down to the ground.
I am often tempted to
offer my kids the comfort of illusions—the lightness and sparkle of a Parisian
tower, the reassurance that if they want, they can become astronauts and travel
to the moon. But the tower is made of cold solid metal and takes hours to
climb. The surface of the moon is pocked and airless and their astronaut
selection unlikely. Instead, I can offer them the reminder that while life is
difficult and lines are long, we are buoyed by openness to other human beings.
There is a gift in the unexpected gracefulness of a former stranger turned
friend, an older woman acknowledging her fear and swinging with abandon into
our waiting arms.
It was past 1:30 in the morning when we finally returned to
our French flat and collapsed on our little mattresses. “What did you think,
Luna?” I whispered to her, as I gratefully turned toward sleep. “It was
perfect,” she said.
Rachel Neumann is the editorial director of Parallax Press, the publishing arm of
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s community, and the author of Not Quite Nirvana: A
Skeptic’s Journey to Mindfulness. She lives in the Bay Area and writes
regularly on the intersections of mindfulness, parenting, politics, and the
mess of daily life. Her work appears in The Village Voice, AlterNet, and other publications.
Photo by Serge Melki / flickr.com
It Starts from Zero (May 2013)
Shambhala Sun | May 2013
It Starts from Zero
Emptiness and interdependence—they’re more than concepts;
they’re key to realizing real-world benefits in our lives. HIS HOLINESS THE KARMAPA helps us put our wisdom into practice.
How do you relate to this infinite ground of possibility that your life is built on?
How can you create a meaningful life within whatever shifting circumstances you
devotes a great deal of attention to these questions. The view that life holds
infinite possibility is explored using the concepts of “interdependence” and
“emptiness.” When you first hear the term “emptiness,” you might think this
suggests nothingness or a void, but actually “emptiness” here should remind us
that nothing exists in a vacuum. Everything is embedded within a context—a
complex set of circumstances. Those contexts themselves are endlessly shifting.
When we say that things are “empty,” we mean they lack any independent existence
outside of those changing contexts. Because everything and everyone is “empty”
in this sense, they are capable of endless adaptation. We ourselves have the
basic flexibility to adapt to anything, and to become anything.
Because of this, we
should not mistake emptiness for nothingness. On the contrary, emptiness is
full of potency. Understood correctly, emptiness inspires optimism, rather than
pessimism, because it reminds us of the boundless range of possibilities of who
we can become and how we can live.
emptiness show us that there are no fixed starting points. We can start from
nothing. Whatever we have, wherever we are—that is the place we can start from.
Many people have the idea that they lack what they need in order to start working
toward their dreams. They feel they do not have enough power, or they do not
have enough money. But they should know that any point is the right starting
point. This is the perspective that emptiness opens up. We can start from zero.
In fact, emptiness
can be compared to the concept and function of zero. Zero may seem like
nothing, but as we all know, everything starts from it. Without zero, our
computers would collapse. Without zero, we could not start counting from one up
to infinity. In the same way, from emptiness, anything and every- thing can
Anything can come
into being because there is no fixed way for things to be. It all depends on
the conditions that come together. But this fact that anything is possible does
not imply that life is random or haphazard. We can make anything happen, but we
can only do so by bringing together the necessary conditions. This is where the
concepts of “emptiness” and “interdependence” come together.
Every person, place,
and thing is entirely dependent on others—other people and other things—as a
necessary condition for its existence. For example, we are alive right now
because we are enjoying the right conditions for our survival. We are alive
because of the countless meals we have eaten during our life. Because the sun
shines on the earth and the clouds bring rain, crops can grow. Someone tends to
the crops and harvests them, someone else brings them to market, and yet
another person makes a meal from them that we can eat. Each time this process is
repeated, the interdependence of our lives links us with more and more people,
and with more and more rays of sun and drops of rain.
Ultimately, there is
nothing and no one with whom we are not connected. The Buddha coined the term
“interdependence” to describe this state of profound connectedness.
Interdependence is the nature of reality. It is the nature of human life, of
all things and of all situations. We are all linked, and we all serve as conditions
affecting each other.
Amid all the conditions that affect us, in fact, the choices
we ourselves make and the steps we take are among the most important conditions
that affect what arises from our actions. If we act constructively, what comes
into being is constructive. If we act destructively, what results is
destructive and harmful. Everything is possible, but also everything we do
matters, because the effects of our actions reach far beyond ourselves. For
that reason, living in a world of interdependence has very specific
implications for us. It means our actions affect others. It makes us all
responsible for one another.
Living this Reality
I realize this
presentation might initially seem abstract, but emptiness and interdependence
are not abstract principles. They are very practical, and have direct relevance
when you are thinking about how to create a meaningful life.
You can see interdependence at work by looking at how your
own life is sustained. Is it only through your own exertions? Do you
manufacture all your own resources? Or do they come from others? When you
contemplate these questions, you will see very quickly that you are able to
exist only because of others. The clothes you wear and the food you eat all
come from somewhere else. Consider the books you read, the cars you ride in,
the movies you watch, and the tools you use. Not one of us single-handedly
makes any of these things for ourselves. We all rely on outside conditions,
including the air we breathe. Our continued presence here in the world is an
opportunity made possible entirely by others.
we are continually interacting with the world around us. This interaction works
both ways—it is a mutual exchange. We are receiving, but also giving. Just as
our presence on this planet is made possible by many factors, our presence here
affects others in turn—other individuals, other communities, and the planet
Over the past
century, we humans have developed very dangerous capabilities. We have created
machines endowed with tremendous power. With the technology available now, we
could cut down all the trees on the planet. But if we did so, we could not
expect life to go on as before, except without trees. Because of our
fundamental interdependence, we would all experience the consequences of such
actions very quickly. Without any trees, there would not be enough oxygen in
our atmosphere to sustain human life.
You may wonder what
this has to do with the choices we make and how we live our life. That is
simple: We all need to take interdependence into account because it
influences our life directly and profoundly. In order to have a happy life, we
must take an active interest in the sources of our happiness.
Our environment and
the people we share it with are the main sources of our sustenance and
well-being. In order to ensure our own happiness, we have to respect and care
about the happiness of others. We can see this in something as simple as the
way we treat the people who prepare our food. When we treat them well and look
after their needs, only then can we reasonably expect them to take pains to
prepare something healthy and tasty for us to eat.
When we have respect for others and take an interest in
their flourishing, we ourselves flourish. This can be seen in business as well.
When customers have more money to spend, businesses do better. If we wish to
flourish individually and together as a society, it is not enough for us to
simply acknowledge the obvious interdependence of the world we live in. We must
consider its implications, and reflect on the conditions for our own welfare.
Where do our oxygen and food and material goods come from, and how are they
produced? Are these sources sustainable?
Relating to Reality
Looking at your
experience from the perspectives of emptiness and interdependence might entail
a significant shift in how you understand your life. My hope is that this shift
can benefit you in practical terms. Gaining a new understanding of the forces
at work in your life can be a first step toward relating positively to them.
My purpose in raising
these issues is certainly not to terrify you by confronting you with harsh
reality. For example, I have noticed that some people are uncomfortable when
they are told that change is a fundamental part of life, or that nothing lasts
forever. Yet impermanence is just a basic fact of our existence—it is neither
good nor bad in itself. There is certainly nothing to gain by denying it. In
fact, when we face impermanence wisely, we have an opportunity to cultivate a
more constructive way of relating to that reality. If we do so, we can actually
learn to feel at ease in the face of unexpected change, and work comfort- ably
with whatever new situations might occur. We can become more skillful in how we
relate to the reality of change.
The same is true of
interdependence. Seeing life from this perspective can help us develop skills
to relate more constructively to reality—but just knowing that we are
interdependent does not guarantee that we will feel good about being so. Some
people may initially find it uncomfortable to reflect that they depend on
They might think this
means they are helpless or trapped, as if they were boxed in by those
dependencies. Yet when we think about being interdependent, we do not need to
feel it is like being stuck in a job working for a boss that we did not choose
but have to deal with, like it or not. That is not helpful. We should not feel
reluctant or pressured by the reality of our interdependence. Such an attitude
prevents us from having a sense of contentment and well-being within our own
life. It does not give us a basis for positive relationships.
Interdependence is our reality, whether we accept it or not.
In order to live productively within such a reality, it is better to
acknowledge and work with interdependence, wholeheartedly and without
resistance. This is where love and compassion come in. It is love that leads us
to embrace our connectedness to others, and to participate willingly in the
relations created by our interdependence. Love can melt away our defenses and our
painful sense of separation. The warmth of friendship and love makes it easy
for us to accept that our happiness is intimately linked to that of others. The
more widely we are able to love others, the happier and more content we can
feel within the relations of interdependence that are a natural part of our
From The Heart is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside
Out, by the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, © 2013 by Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc.
In 1999, at the age of
fourteen, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, made a dramatic escape from
Tibet. As leader of the
Kagyu school of Vajrayana Buddhism, he is
unafraid to talk about
the environment, vegetarianism, and the role
of women—and how
can align themselves
more with the modern
world on these issues.
Since his escape, the
Karmapa has made two
trips to the West. Gyuto
Tantric University in
Dharamsala, India, is
his home base.
Home Cooking (May 2013)
Shambhala Sun | May 2013
At New York’s Reciprocity Foundation, homeless youth receive
nourishment for body and mind alike. Founder TAZ TAGORE explains the program’s recipe for success.
Living in New York
City, there is no shortage of joy or suffering. They’re all around
you, on a daily basis. As a practicing Buddhist, I strive to see it all
clearly, but when I arrive at work, that can get very difficult.
I cofounded a
nonprofit called the Reciprocity Foundation, which operates a holistic center
for homeless teenagers on the West Side. Some days, the problems that appear in
front of us loom so large that it’s hard to really take them in.
youth are generally open to change. Some of our students reconnect with their
will to live through yoga classes and meditation retreats. Others awaken their
hearts while making a film, listening to a guest speaker, or simply talking
quietly with a caring adult. Homeless youth are a wonderful population. They
shoulder the consequences of our worst social problems—poverty, drug addiction,
bullying, sexual abuse—and are still willing to open their hearts after as
little as one pro- found interaction with a loving adult.
For the past seven
years we have offered services—both conventional and contemplative—to help
homeless youth realize their potential. Because before they can put effort into
selecting a vocation, a college program, or a career path, they must first wake
up to their own potential. Too many are pushed into school or work before they
feel ready, and that’s risky. When disconnected youth are pushed too far, they
can disengage further, setting off a vicious cycle of isolation.
But for a long time
there was one service we did not offer: meals. Our reasoning was that youth
shelters had it covered, providing three meals a day for residents, and soup
kitchens distributed brown-bag lunches. We
can’t do everything, we told ourselves. We’ll
focus on personal transformation and let other agencies focus on food.
But in 2012, it
seemed that more students than ever were complaining of hunger. How can that
be? We asked them, and the answers were hard to swallow. The food served at
shelters was heavily processed and meager in nutritional value. Sometimes the
food didn’t arrive at all, and when it did, it was often cold or late. Some of
our students developed rashes or digestive problems after a few months on the
“shelter diet.” Others complained of headaches, dizziness, and low energy.
Still, I didn’t think Reciprocity should create a meal program—until I met a
homeless young girl named Jada.
Jada always wore a
scarf around her neck and refused to take off her coat. One day, she told me
she had read Eat, Pray, Love by
Elizabeth Gilbert three times, and wished she could eat what the author ate in
Italy because the food would make her happy. “When I eat,” she explained, “I
usually feel sick or break out in a rash.” She unwrapped her scarf and showed
me the large swath of red pimples that covered her neck. “I have these all over
my body, and now I’m scared to eat at the shelter.”
I needed no further convincing:
it was time to start a healthy vegetarian meal program. We bought a large slow
cooker and began serving homemade vegetarian chilis, soups, and curries to our
homeless students. The meals coincided with our evening programs, so students
were offered sustenance for body and mind alike.
Jada was a bit
suspicious of our vegan concoctions at first. She would ask for a small
portion, take one bite, and then find a reason to rush off to check email.
“This food won’t hurt your body. I promise,” I’d tell her. It was a few weeks
before she would eat a full dinner. “This is good,” she teased, “but I bet the
food is even better in Italy.”
As our vegetarian
meal program began to pick up steam, our students began to “wake up” during
mealtimes. Those who were prone to drift off or send texts during workshops
began to gather around the slow cooker to find out what was in it and how it
was being prepared. Students asked questions about vegetarianism, cooking
techniques, and the varieties of vegetables and spices in the pot.
We invited students
to contemplate their relationship with food. We asked them, How does your body feel when you eat at the
shelter? What do you wish for most at mealtimes? “A home-cooked meal” was
the answer we expected, but what they actually said was much more powerful.
Some students admitted that mealtimes at the shelter provoked “intense
loneliness.” One student said she longed “to eat slowly, rather than wolf down
my food and run into my room.” A group of youths said they wanted to “talk—you
know, really talk” to someone during mealtimes. Jada suggested that we recreate
the Thanksgiving meal in Eat, Pray, Love by giving thanks in turn—even when it
wasn’t a holiday. Homeless youth, we learned, are starved for both meaning and
This fall, we
expanded our food program. Reciprocity now offers the largest vegetarian meal
program for homeless teenagers and young adults in the country. We are
determined to serve food and inspiration, in equal parts, to youth in crisis.
To address the inner hunger our students feel, we designed a ritual inspired by
Jada’s obsession with Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir: After taking a seat at the
Reciprocity farmhouse table, our students reflect on something for which they
are grateful. That might mean giving thanks for a cot at an emergency shelter,
or even expressing gratitude for the profound experience of being homeless.
In my line of work,
compassion can feel like a strong ache. I hear about a homeless youth’s pain
and I want to do something to make it better, so the ache will go away. But the
Buddha taught that compassion should be more than a fleeting impulse. We have
to keep returning to the well of suffering and drink deeply from it. A year
ago, my work at Reciprocity was about trying to fix tiny bits of suffering. Now
I am learning to uncover suffering layer by layer and remain open-hearted, even
as I see that suffering has no end. Sitting with my students’ hunger, I have
learned that it was more vast and complex than I had imagined. But instead of feeling
depressed and overwhelmed, I tried to use this view to inspire a more expansive
Now mealtimes at the Reciprocity Foundation have become
opportunities to nourish and rejuvenate homeless youths’ distracted minds and
broken hearts. Last week, I listened to Jada giving thanks—not because she’d
accomplished her dream of gorging herself in Italy but for her life right here,
in a New York City shelter. After giving thanks, she turned to another student,
and they began to talk openly and honestly about their lives. Their eyes
glistened with hope. At that point, even if the food were to run out, I knew
that it would be okay. Our students would still leave our center feeling full.
Taz Tagore is cofounder of the Reciprocity Foundation and has spent nearly
twenty years volunteering at youth shelters and working with homeless youth in
the U.S., Canada, and India. She lives in New York City, where she tries hard
to practice meditation amid the sound of jackhammers, her homeless students’
phones ringing, and her five-year-old daughter’s endless stream of knock-knock
Photo: Selassie Samuel
Are We Basically Good? (May 2013)
Shambhala Sun | May 2013
Are We Basically
The question of human nature is the most important global
issue that we face today, says SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE. If we conclude that humanity is not basically good— that we do not
possess inherent wisdom—what hope does the future hold?
It has been fifty
years since my father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, came to the West to
introduce his vision of how to create a good human society. On this
anniversary, I have been reflecting on the meaning and purpose of his
intention, particularly since my life has been integrally mixed with the
development of the Shambhala vision.
has led me to write The Shambhala
Principle: Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure. The book is a
first-person narrative revolving around questions I asked my father when I was
a child. Whether his responses were direct, poetic, whimsical, or mystical, he
continuously returned to the topics of basic goodness and enlightened society.
This book highlights
the question Do we, as humans, believe and trust in the basic goodness of
humanity, as well as of society? It identifies the question of human nature as
the most important global issue that we face today.
Humanity has come to
a crossroads—we can either destroy the world or we can create a good future. At
this time, there is tremendous doubt regarding the inherent goodness and
worthiness of our species. If we draw the conclusion that humanity is not
inherently good—that we do not possess inherent wisdom—what hope can the future
possibly hold? In that case, it seems inevitable that the forces of fear and
doubt will escalate, creating an internal environment that is detrimental to
the human mind and heart, as well as to the external environment.
In these challenging
times, it is tempting to collapse into our own personal existence, hoping the
world’s woes will not affect us too harshly. However, it is difficult for any
of us to escape the social and climatic changes that color this particular
crossroads. Whether intentionally or not, we are all forced to contemplate the
nature of our existence, and more importantly, the nature of humanity. The
conclusions we draw will affect our global future.
The Shambhala Principle presents the
dialogue I had with my father regarding how basic goodness relates to society,
economics, and politics, as well as to health and the environment. Trungpa
Rinpoche did not approach basic goodness from a naïve point of view. Before
bringing this perspective to the modern world, he had experienced tremendous
savagery and degradation while losing his culture and country. But instead of
despair and a sense of doom, he saw that human existence does not have to be
mired in aggression, selfishness, and deceit. As humans, we have the worthiness
to exist on planet Earth. We communicate this by creating good society,
expressing genuineness and bravery.
The Shambhala vision
teaches that all aspects of life can be approached with appreciation, virtue,
strength, and sacredness. This is the principle of warriorship: overwhelming
odds do not daunt us. In fact, as more challenges arise, the courage and vigor
of the warrior increase. So with the proper training, we are able to see the
confusion of this dark age as an opportunity to sharpen our weapons of
gentleness, fearlessness, and precision.
Because of my own contemplation of basic goodness, The Shambhala Principle is written as a
personal journey. The story opens one morning at a poignant moment in my development,
when my father called me into his bedroom. There he gave me a hug and declared
that I would be the next Sakyong, a Tibetan term meaning “Earth Protector.” The
book describes my coming to terms with this great responsibility—from that
pivotal morning to the present. Can I take my father’s instructions and ground
my heart and mind in the principle of humanity’s goodness? Can I inspire others
to do the same by reflecting on this theme? I examine these challenges.
However, this book is not a memoir, nor even a message. Rather, it is an
invitation for all of us to reflect on our own basic goodness and the basic
goodness of society. Can we rouse our energy and confidence to create a good
world that is founded on this principle?
My father taught that
the way to effect genuine transformation is not by telling others what to do
but by manifesting these principles. Although at times we may feel deficient in
our ability to embody basic goodness, even glimpsing such a possibility can
have an immediate and profound effect on us, both personally and societally.
Even without a full understanding of enlightened society, simply discussing the
possibility broadens our horizons.
It is my hope that in
such a complicated time, the simplicity of basic goodness can become a true
source of guidance. One of the book’s core messages is that how we feel about
ourselves has a direct effect on society. Acknowledging our own basic goodness
is the grounds for creating a culture. A culture is a community that shares
similar values and principles. It is a powerful demonstration of a group’s
principles. At the same time, it greatly influences the personal principles of
the individuals in the group.
It is clear that in
our modern era, the foundations of older cultures are dissolving, even as new
ones arise. These intangible shifts are based on the changing values and
principles within our global community. Yet even as cultural shifts occur, the
nature of humanity remains the same. What leads to a climate of
unpredictability is not knowing our intangible nature. It is time for humanity
to connect with this universal principle, the basis for all human culture, so
that basic goodness can become a healthy and grounding element.
In that light, The
Shambhala Principle explores basic goodness not only in Eastern thought but
also in Western philosophy and culture, acknowledging that basic goodness has
no borders. It has genuine potential to benefit the multicultural nature of our
modern geopolitical landscape because it is dynamic, alive, and energetic—the
nature of life altogether. With this understanding, basic goodness is not
simply a concept to be explored but an immediate and tangible experience that
we encounter every time we breathe, smell, touch, or look. Because it is
instinctual, it is not a premeditated decision but the essence of our humanity.
When we personally
lose contact with what makes us human, we naturally lose touch with the fabric
of society, and society devolves into an individualistic struggle where people
are disconnected from themselves and others. This leads to a lack of care
toward nature and the environment. In contrast, basic goodness is an expression
of the natural harmony that exists when humanity connects with its own internal
environment. This leads us to connect with the external environment. This is
what my father meant by “enlightened society.” In discovering basic goodness,
we have a great opportunity to influence how the world moves toward the future.
We can use our understanding to create enlightened society.
The Shambhala Principle invites the reader
to share my journey by reflecting on these core principles. This journey leads
beyond personal transformation, to the understanding that basic goodness is a
socially viable principle that could stabilize and transform our world. I hope
it will inspire the reader to reflect and to gain courage, exploring the real
possibility of effecting social transformation by demonstrating the principle
of basic goodness at home, at work, and in society.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the spiritual
leader of Shambhala, an international network of meditation and retreat
centers. His new book, The Shambhala Principle: Discovering Humanity’s Hidden
Treasure, will be published in May by Harmony.
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