Zen teacher John Tarrant announces the theme for this issue of Inquiring Mind by eloquently evoking the tension between spirit and soul, between the realms of the absolute and relative, the dharma and the drama. Our interview with Tarrant is appropriately followed by excerpts from Stephen Mitchell’s novel Meetings with the Archangel, calling on an other-worldly being to point out the richness of our struggles in the human realm. A selection from Theravada teacher Ayya Khema’s Be An Island reminds us as well that dukkha can be our friend. Buddhist/environmental writer Stephanie Kaza guides us through the earthly realm—that of the animals, plants and the life of Gaia herself—that calls out so urgently to many souls in our time. Kaza offers Buddhist perspectives on the ecological crisis culled from many lineages and ages.
In a second section, focused on meditation and adolescents, we explore how the soul and spirit may cooperate in the task of transmitting our wisdom to the next generation. Soren Gordhamer describes teaching meditation in a juvenile detention center, and Michelle McDonald-Smith tells us about the Young Adults Retreat at the Insight Meditation Society. Writer Rick Fields’ touching essay and poem portray the illuminating wisdom shown by fifteen-year-old Gabe Catalfo as he lived with cancer.
On our poetry pages, we feature the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Lisel Mueller. In the “Sangha Speaks” column, Stephen Fulder searches his Jewish tradition for teachings that resonate with his dharma practice and understanding. On the “Practice Page,” Vipassana teacher Carol Wilson ask us, “Do we want to be comfortable, or do we want to be free?”
Cover illustration: Earth Angels by Bette Alexander.