September 2, 2011

Editor’s Letter: Merrie Band of Misfits.

This is my weekly editor’s letter. To get our once-a-week email Best of The Week newsletter, free, join here.


I grew up in a Buddhist community. It was full of inspired, independent, very human (full of wonderful qualities and faults, both) ladies and gentlemen. It was real, and genuinely dedicated to the greater good.

I miss my community, and Trungpa Rinpoche, its founder, and his son, my teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche…just about every day. It’s a bit like I’m an ex-pat—loving living where I am, doing what I’m doing…but missing home. I miss the gold leaf and the sound of Shambhala Mountain at night and living in tents while attending a Seminary and the sound of a gong and the deep and fun connections one makes with fellow meditation practitioners. I miss the khaki and the flags one-hand-clapping against themselves in the wind(horse). I miss, most of all, the chance to meditate, with community, for hours and hours and hours at a time, for months on end.

Yah, it’s a funny thing to miss. But, still, I grew up in that world: called “Dharma Brats,” my generation did indeed inherit a lot. And the definition of a “brat,” you know, is a child who doesn’t appreciate what he’s been given, and who hasn’t learned to give back. And so I’m perfectly happy walking my path—my path is, for me, my service, my ultimate smile, my way of passing along the legacy of the present moment that is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

And the good news is…that, as the Dalai Lama never fails to point out, we Buddhists don’t have any patent on wisdom or compassion. That may sound obvious to you non-Buddhists, but remember how tempting it is for any wisdom tradition to regard itself as the pinnacle of human realization—ultimately, worth going to war for. So I’ve always liked how we Buddhists could give a care whether you, you or you convert to Buddhism or no. In fact, we’d prefer you keep your tradition—explore it, relish it, learn from it, celebrate it. We just care that you’re genuinely happy, fulfilled, sane—and that you see your life and all that you’ve been given as a vehicle for being of open-eyed benefit to a world in suffering and confusion.

So, the good news is…that as I’ve worked on this elephant project for more than 9 years, now, I’ve met so many gentle “warriors” out there—ladies and gentlemen who make we Buddhists look like lazy, selfish nutjobs. I’ve met sane, sweet, inspirational, open-hearted women and men who I regard as no less a sister or brother or mother or father than my own Buddhist clan. (Including, now, Joel Salatin, who my Walk the Talk Show interviewed Monday morning).

So, the good news is…is that we can all band together. Not by race, or creed, or age, or sex, or class, or politics, or what: but by decency, dignity, generosity, compassion and openness in a world that sometimes seems to be telling us to shut down, protect ourselves, think selfishly, play it safe. 

And so it is that I think again of Allie Bombach’s article, and the video in it, and I hug the already-fading memories that are the past 3.5 years since elephant turned from print magazine, online—hard years that have begun to pay off. We’ve grown 40% this month alone—and while we’re barely sustainable even without a single full-time staff member, we’ve got a corps of inspired volunteers who are helping make elephant less about me and more about community.

And for that, and the future vacation that seems to portend, I’m grateful. Sweet dreams—

Yours in the Vision of the Great Eastern Sun,

Waylon Lewis
editor-in-chief, host
elephantjournal.com, Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis

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