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Shambhala Sun | July 2014


Just Like That

Buddhists talk a lot about cause and effect (i.e., karma) and interconnection, but you don’t have to be a Buddhist to understand that everything you know, as you know it, could completely change. Just like that.

For Allan Lokos, the NYC-based meditation teacher I interviewed for this issue, that truth came down hard. A family vacation—intended to be just another positive episode in a fruitful and often comfortable existence—was turned upside down, just like that, when a routine flight turned into a disaster that nearly took Lokos’s life.

It’s a harrowing tale, but not really unique: loss and difficulty, just like birth and joy, are simply the stuff of life. Not that a near-fatal accident is the kind of thing anyone can be ready for. But we can, at least, be somewhat prepared.

What’s the difference? It’s subtle, but it has a lot to do with why Buddhists practice meditation the way they do.

This issue offers you the opportunity to explore the full variety of Buddhist meditation techniques. These not only help us develop a less agitated, more focused mind in the day-to-day, but also provoke us toward actionable clarity about what vexes us on a more existential “lifetime” level. Buddhist practices and teachings lead us to question and ultimately face the sources of our long-held passions and aversions, our morality, our mortality, what reality is and isn’t, and how we’re participating in it. (Or, aren’t).

As we come to terms with these things, we’re becoming more prepared: to enjoy life’s easier moments, yes, but also to be more present and at ease when things don’t happen as we want them to, when others are facing trouble, illness, and death, and when we are facing them ourselves. Again, the stuff of life.

It’s gratifying work, but—why sugarcoat it?—it can take a lot of effort, especially if you’re not feeling up to it. For an incalculable number of people, though, it’s felt to be quite worthwhile. I’m one of them, as are so many of the others behind the production of the Shambhala Sun. Now, I’m in no way saying that we’re all adepts—another thing we can’t sugarcoat—but we do share the conviction that Buddhist meditation has truly benefited our lives and those of the people around us.

We explore the whys and hows in this issue’s special section, “Your Guide to Buddhist Meditation.” After “The View,” a newly available teaching by our founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, about why Buddhists meditate, we then dive into the how. You’ll learn the basics (posture, breathing, and so on); how to develop goodwill and compassion for others and for yourself; to sit in Zen’s bare-bones “nothing extra” mode; to investigate the true nature of mind, and more. All of it comes by way of thoughtful, artful teachers of diverse ages, backgrounds, and voices. Which makes sense: there are so many kinds of Buddhist meditation because there are so many kinds of people, so many different needs. So why not try them all, see what fits for you, and what happens if you keep at it?

Perhaps, in the end, you’ll be enlightened. Perhaps not. But don’t be surprised to find yourself better prepared for whatever comes. It can happen bit by bit—or just like that.


—Rod Meade Sperry, Associate Editor


PS: For lots more meditation guidance, be sure to visit Also available is the new Shambhala Sun book, A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation, featuring teachings by Pema Chödrön, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and so many more.

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

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