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Lion's Roar July 2020

The Lion's Roar celebrates the spirit of wakefulness wherever it appears - in the arts, relationships, politics, livelihood, popular culture, and all the challenges of modern life. It offers a Buddhist view for people of all spiritual traditions who are open, inquisitive, passionate and committed.

Shambhala Sun Foundation
$5.29(Incl. tax)
$26.47(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

2 min
a message from the publisher

We are in the midst of an incredible moment for the world: shocking and painful, but also filled with examples of genuine compassion, selflessness, generosity, and courage. Many around the world are suffering acutely: those who are critically ill; those who have lost loved ones; those on the front-lines who take real risks to provide desperately needed care; all those who have lost their jobs or whose livelihood is at risk. We hold all these and many more in our hearts. The impacts of this pandemic are everywhere, and Lion’s Roar is no exception. With the economy faltering, vital sources of revenue for us have dropped precipitously. If you’re holding this magazine in your hands, you’re already a supporter—and you have our sincere thanks for that. But to make up for lost…

3 min
there’s always a light

My windows look out onto the back of six houses. Before dawn and after dusk, it’s usually just one of my neighbors who has a light on. I don’t know my neighbor, but for years now I’ve found that single glowing rectangle comforting, heartwarming. Each time I see that light, I’m spontaneously inspired to do an informal loving-kindness practice, wishing my neighbor happiness, health, safety, and ease. I don’t believe my well wishes have any direct, magical impact on him or her, but they make me feel better. They make me feel connected to all people and that in turn makes me more loving to the people I do encounter. As I write this, I am at home sheltering in place, so I’m not exchanging smiles or pleasantries with strangers, or even…

7 min
“hungry ghost, let go of this woman!”

I DOUBT THAT MANY PRIESTS, let alone chaplains, have had the opportunity to perform an exorcism. I did once, and the best thing was—it worked. A social worker called to ask me to help a young Japanese woman. She told me that the doctors were working on controlling the pain that came with the patient’s cancer, but the patient said that spirits had taken over her mind. That’s where the social worker thought I, as a hospice chaplain, might be able to help. I was glad that she trusted me, and I hurried to her office so we could talk about the case. She explained that sometimes the patient was silent, head tilted, listening as the spirits spoke to her, and at other times she shouted in Japanese, apparently becoming the spirits…

8 min
the healing power of the truth

ANDREA MILLER: How did you personally discover the liberating power of telling the story of the abuse and trauma you suffered? EVE ENSLER: From an early age, I was always writing. I felt like if I could write in my journal, I would be okay. I could create this alternative persona and I could tell that persona things. It somehow lifted off the pressure I was feeling. And I always loved the theater. People told stories out loud that were uncomfortable. They said things that weren’t supposed to be said. My childhood was spent living a lie. I was living in this upper-middle-class family with literally a white picket fence. Violence was going on inside, and everybody was pretending it wasn’t. That was driving me insane. So when I realized there might…

4 min
steadfast in the midst of turmoil

INSIDE BUDDHADHARMA EIHEI DOGEN, the thirteenth-century founder of Soto Zen in Japan, wrote in his evocative Kuge (“Flowers of Emptiness”) that “the time and place that the blue lotus flowers open and spread are in the midst of fire and in the time of fire” (Gudo Nishijima and Chodo Cross, Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo). Dogen lived in a time of political uncertainty, violent weather, and cultural change. Perhaps these difficulties inspired Dogen to take up the poetic image of a blue lotus—associated with practice–realization—blooming within the fire of samsara. We often think our practice requires leaving behind or transcending our difficulties. Yet the blue lotus blooming, representing a bodhisattva awakened, is dependent upon fire in order to flower. A blue lotus (Skt. utpala) symbolizes both wisdom (by association with Manjusri) and compassion (an…

3 min
what buddhist teaching or practice is helping you the most in this crisis?

Upon witnessing the death of the Buddha, senior monks observed, “All conditioned things are impermanent.” Plagues have tormented our ancestors since long before they descended from the trees. It was ever thus. In the vast, ancient lineage of humanity (and viruses), what hubris is it to think I’m somehow exempt? Old age, illness, and death are part and parcel of life. As a Mahayana Buddhist, I aspire to be a bodhisattva; well, here’s my opportunity. I was once told to regard my rakusu as a waiter’s apron and that a sincere “How may I help you?” fulfills all of my vows. Ultimately, the coronavirus doesn’t change my fundamental practice, which is to find a need and fill it. —Emmet Bondurant, Hayesville, North Carolina One thing that has helped with the stay at home…