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What to Do With the Stories That Haunt You…

For Reasons You Don't Understand

Practice
Colorful painting of trees and birds

Illustration Credit: Trees and Stars by Natalie Goldberg

I am at a meditation retreat at Vallecitos Mountain Refuge in northern New Mexico with a Zen teacher from Boston I have been working with. I’m on the board of this remote enclave deep in the national forest. Tired of flying across the country, I’ve arranged for him to teach here. I’ve driven him in on the 12-mile dirt road past aspen groves and an old, abandoned original settler’s log cabin, through green meadows and along sheer cliffs. We’re in my sturdy 1978 Land Cruiser, an old hippopotamus of a truck with thick tires, rattling doors, and a fierce engine replete with a choke to get it going on cold mornings.I want to impress this teacher in the hope he’ll want to return. He’s smart and astute, and I’m taken with his teachings. I’ve already studied with a Japanese teacher for 12 years and then a Vietnamese teacher for six. He’s American, and we come from the same cultural context—for once, at the very least, I can clearly understand the language.The first day, he tells a story about seeing the hairs around a horse’s mouth when he spent a year in silence in the woods of Maine. I settle into deep, still …

From The Great Spring, by Natalie Goldberg, © 2016 by Natalie Goldberg. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.shambhala.com


This entry is tagged with:
RetreatsZenPersonal EssayReflection

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