Hop, skip, jump
One thing I’ve come to believe over the years writing this column is that for an individual to progress in spiritual growth, he or she has to commit to a particular path. I mean, exploration is great—it’s been great for me and Hunter, at any rate—but it’s been awhile since I felt like I made any great advancement in understanding.
I have had a great time sojourning throughout the religious traditions in Northern Nevada, discovering the nuances among Christian sects, exploring religions I knew less than nothing about. (I say “less than nothing” because much of what I thought I knew was wrong.) More readers than I can count have told me they, too, have enjoyed the looks into unknown crannies. There are still some faiths I haven’t touched on yet. But, it’s time for a change: I want to open this column up to more people. I want other people to be able to tell the world about their beliefs, about their particular views of religious experience and faith, sort of like Zahida Mehirdel with her essay, “My hijab,” which was about the Muslim head scarf.
I realized this was the way to go as I was reviewing Shambhala Sun magazine for this column. It includes a lot of personal perspectives as it focuses on the Buddhist practice. It also applies the Buddhist teachings to current social thought and phenomena, like psychology, parenting evolution, environmentalism and aging.
Let me say from the outset, this magazine is just one step beyond general interest. There are particular words and their meanings that are beyond the novice, but if someone has some background in Buddhism and meditation, they’re going to learn from almost every story. The magazine is well-edited—despite including a few of my personal pet peeves—and the photography, illustrations and quality of writing are very good. The writers are knowledgeable in both things literary and the topics they’re writing about. Even the advertising was fun to look at and interesting.
I love that this magazine focuses so much on death and how to live it. One feature, “Dead Like Me” by Ira Sukrungruang, was a series of vignettes about death, not dwelling on it in any scary way, just a recognition that life and death are one. He breaks the topic apart through things like a reminiscence of an aging dog, an anecdote or two about Lord Buddha, the fears of a muscle-bound friend. But the death theme doesn’t end with this piece. Much of the magazine is devoted to people who’ve died, and through the examples and teachings of their lives, have taught others how to live.
At any rate, Shambhala Sun is published bimonthly, and it’s $6.99 on newsstands. I picked mine up at Borders. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s too shy to join a meditation group or see a Buddhist speaker. I think it would also be good for people who’ve been in the same practice for a while and who need a little variety to keep moving forward.
I hope a few pastors and spiritual leaders will have the courage to step up quickly. Otherwise, I predict this idea will die on the vine.
Finally, I’m not abdicating this column; I’m just looking for a way to give it more depth. I have every intention of continuing my sojourning.