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Close to the Ground: Lean in to Suffering

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The young woman sitting next to me looks to be in her late 20s. Given our proximity to the University of Oregon, she could be a graduate student, maybe, or a young professor. She is sipping a big bowl of café au lait, her head bent low. I try not to notice her weeping, but her sadness is so palpable I can feel my own tears forming. After a minute or two, I decide to move a couple of tables away to give her some privacy.But I can’t get her sadness out of my mind. At my age, I’ve experienced my fair share of suffering—lost relationships, near-fatal automobile accidents, losing four dear friends in the past few years. But the story that comes to mind as I think about sadness surprises me. It happened to a young student of mine, back in Detroit. Maybe it surfaces because she looked like this young women—lovely and full of life, with a rare intensity.M. worked as a high-end escort for businessmen visiting the city on weekends. The way I remember it, she had several regular clients and was saving up with a plan to get out of the business, when she got into another argument with her boyfriend about it while th …

The author of the book Close to the Ground: The Seven Factors of Enlightenment, Geri Larkin is spending spring replacing the plants she has lost with more drought-resistant varieties.


Geri Larkin is the founder and former head teacher of Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple, a Zen meditation center in the heart of inner-city Detroit. She is the author of many books including Stumbling Toward EnlightenmentBuilding a Business the Buddhist Way,Tap Dancing in ZenFirst You Shave Your Head, and The Still Point Dhammapada


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