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Harvard psychologist Jack Engler reflects on his study of Buddhist practice in the special section “Enlightenment in this Lifetime”. He says, “Though I’ve written a lot about practice, and about Buddhist and Western psychology, I’ve never published the personal interviews from doctoral research I did many years ago with enlightened Vipassana practitioners in India, including my two main teachers, Dipa Ma and Anagarika Munindraji. Munindraji’s recent passing has lent poignancy to publishing this interview with Dipa Ma. He was her teacher long before he was mine, and she was by far his most adept student. It seems fitting to remember them together.”
Geri Larkin is the guiding teacher of Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple in Detroit. Her essay on the First Hindrance, desire, appears in the On Practice section of this issue. She writes, “Desire can be a spunky form of greed, long rooted and tough to unravel. It surfaces as a dharma talk topic pretty regularly. I also get a kick out of seeing where it pops up in my own life.”
John Kain recounts his experience with Naikan practice, a structured method of reflecting on one’s relationships, on page 58. “The great thing about Naikan,” Kain tells us, “is its insistence on the simple act of seeing. It asks us to plainly admit our lives—to see the river-shape our actions have cut in the world. This is sobering to say the least, and often painful. Even after two retreats and writing this article, I still cannot tell you exactly how the process works.”
Caroline Abels’ column is on teacherless sanghas. She became interested in the subject after sitting with Stillpoint, a community in Pittsburgh. “At Stillpoint, the sitting was very strong, but issues often arose about leadership and what kind of guidance to provide beginners. I wanted to see how other sanghas adapted to this increasingly common situation.” Abels currently lives in Tucson, Arizona. Her mother, Sensei Janet Jiryu Abels of New York City’s Still Mind Zendo, recently became her long-distance teacher.
Image 1: © Rick Colson