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Hey y’all, an excerpt of BROKEN has been posted in Killing the Buddha, a great blog I just heard about this summer. You can find it here.

heller-sweat-lodge

I’ve lifted this explanation of the blog from its own manifesto: Killing the Buddha is a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches, people embarrassed to be caught in the “spirituality” section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God. It is for people who somehow want to be religious, who want to know what it means to know the divine, but for good reasons are not and do not. If the religious have come to own religious discourse it is because they alone have had places where religious language could be spoken and understood. Now there is a forum for the supposedly non-religious to think and talk about what religion is, is not and might be. Killing the Buddha is it.

The idea of “killing the Buddha” comes from a famous Zen line, the context of which is easy to imagine: After years on his cushion, a monk has what he believes is a breakthrough: a glimpse of nirvana, the Buddhamind, the big pay-off. Reporting the experience to his master, however, he is informed that what has happened is par for the course, nothing special, maybe even damaging to his pursuit. And then the master gives the student dismaying advice: If you meet the Buddha, he says, kill him.

Why kill the Buddha? Because the Buddha you meet is not the true Buddha, but an expression of your longing. If this Buddha is not killed he will only stand in your way.

daniel-me-and-stan-in-lander-at-the-july-29-2009-reading2

Here’s a picture of Stanford’s son Daniel and me at a reading last week at the Lander (Wyoming) Public Library. Daniel is inspecting the April 27 issue of High Country News with a cover of him dressed in traditional Native dress at a pow wow.

It was great to to read from BROKEN in Stanford’s backyard (he lives about 20 miles from Lander.) The library was packed with, as a local pal of mine put it, “cowboys and Indians and Democrats,” plus a big-hearted sheriff’s deputy who has escorted some of the younger Addisons into and out of jail (and is an awesome cowboy poet.) I read Stanford’s life story and the beginnings of his spiritual life, in a effort to introduce the larger community to this amazing man. I often choke up after reading about the car crash that paralyzed him, and I did this time too, but due to poor acoustics I had to pretty much yell for the entire reading, and it felt really good to have to keep yelling the ups and downs of this remarkable tale to this very receptive audience.

When I was done and Stanford and co. joined me up front to answer questions, an older lady raised her hand and said, STAN, CAN YOU GET MY HORSE TO STOP WALKING INTO CATTLE GUARDS? Which gave me the giggles. Wyoming. The library reading was the second of the evening; we started with a smaller, more intimate reading a few blocks away at the Noble Hotel — headquarters of the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Then I spent a day at Stanford’s, ending with a sweat lodge so intense that I was sick for about 18 hours. But I started recovering during the drive home with my nice new friend Ciska and her three-year-old daughter Isela (who was like a cartoon princess, all braids and bouncing up to the horses at Stanford’s and shouting up at their noses ARE YOU HUNGRY???) which was lovely. We went from milkshake to milkshake all the way home as those were pretty much the only things I could swallow.

Stanford looked a little under the weather when we arrived, but after two readings, one sweat lodge, some protein and some vitamin powder my mom sent up with me with a stern and maternal note, he looked much better by the time we left. He’s going to be bedridden until his next doctor’s appointment in mid-August, and we’re all hoping he can come to the reading in Santa Fe, NM on Aug. 22 (plus Durango and Salida, CO on the days after. See the TOUR page of this blog for details.)

review by Susan Salter Reynolds

“Not only horses get broken around here,” writes Lisa Jones, a journalist who was almost devoured by a remarkable assignment on the West. In particular, she is writing of the Wind River Range in Wyoming where her subject, Stanford Addison, lives.

“Everything does, starting with the ground itself. Millions of years ago, a new mountain range broke through the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, leaving the original range’s broken remains leaning against the flanks of the Wind River Range.”

Jones, 42, was sent by Smithsonian magazine to profile Addison, “a quadriplegic Northern Arapaho reputed to be able to talk rank beginners through the process of breaking horses.” Addison, a “bad boy outlaw” into drugs and women and cars and horses, survived a violent accident when he was 20. The broken-down “res ride” he was in collided with horses on the road one night. His spinal cord was cut at neck level. Addison came to in a hospital surrounded by white people and a multitude of visions. His reputation as a spiritual healer grew. After finishing the article, Jones went back to spend five years researching this book. In Addison’s presence, she was broken, found some happiness, was often afraid and more often confused. Regardless of what you choose to believe about her story, doors were opened. Addison and his world, she writes, “were jewels, but dark ones, rich with the blood of people and horses and dogs that died for nothing, for carelessness or a flash of anger or too much drink or no reason at all.” Jones, the self-deprecating journalist (“Why couldn’t I shut up? Why did I get so nervous and yappy?”), locates herself beautifully in a story that is hers and not hers. This is her first book. We look forward to the next.

See LA Times

The Woman’s Day Reading List

“This memoir, by a journalist who went to Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation on assignment and stayed off/on for four years, revolves around Stanford Addison, a wheelchair-bound Native American spiritual healer and horse breaker. Mixed in with his tale are a brief history of the Northern Araphos tribe, the heartbreaking reality of modern reservation life and Lisa Jones’ own journey of personal and spiritual growth. But, more revealing than the author’s insights gained from sweat lodges and the nuggets of wisdom that Addison provides, is the honest range of emotions she is unafraid to acknowledge. From the guilt she feels as a white woman on a reservation to the lust she has for a man that is not her boyfriend, these sentiments she shares show the reader that we are all nothing but our feelings if we cannot understand, and eventually, control them.”– Meghan Ahearn

For their full list of recommended reads, click here.

I’m in the beautiful, misty, cool, confiding mountains of western North Carolina. Taking lots of walks, eating lots of pork, spending time with my lovely in-laws and my husband, the golf-crazed Buddhist. And here’s a terrific blog link by Molly Brown, which offers a nifty free drawing for my book.

Molly Brown blog

stan-and-co-on-stage2The event in Jackson was lots of fun — my friend and photographer Sarah Kariko (www.sarahkariko.com) started it all off with an exhibition of some great photos of Stan and his world, then Stan, his family and friends sang to open the entertainment on the stage. When it was my turn to read, it was slightly terrifying on
the big fancy stage with lights in my face, unable to see anyone or hear anyone laugh at the provocative parts of the book about my early discomfort at Stanford’s power, and my racial fears… I was poking fun at myself, but zounds it was scary because I heard no laughter or sympathetic murmurs or signs of life whatsoever. At bookstore readings you have eye contact with the audience… I thought all 300 people may have just gone home, disgusted. Stan SHONE onstage –really confident and accessible when he spoke (he did a long Q&A with the audience, which had many horse people in it). some people CRIED
during the songs he sang with family and friends. He had the crowd in
the palm of his hand… afterwards, people bought lots of books and
had apparently been really moved by what I read. The afterparty was pizza and people and cigarettes in Stan’s
motel room. So, YAY! The above picture is of the walk-through the day before the event. Stan is second from left, amid friends and family who came up from the Wind River Reservation.

woke up in a motel room in Jackson Hole. Tonight is the mother of all readings. Stan will speak, Sarah will show photos, 500 people are expected,including a few truckloads from the Wind River Reservation. Wowsers! ( Click for Info)

This youTube video features Lisa reading the book’s preface over slideshow of photos taken of Stanford, his family, horses and home. The photos were taken by Teresa Neptune and Sarah Kariko.

I have a reading in two and a half hours at the Boulder Bookstore. I also have a wicked headache and a sore throat and I sound like Leonard Cohen, who is, at least, the greatest folk singer and vocal artist and poet of the last century and maybe this one too. Be with me, Leonard. I don’t even have the wits about me to upload a picture of you. Sorry.

Here’s a pretty nifty review in the Boulder Daily Camera

http://www.dailycamera.com/news/2009/may/30/broken-arapaho/

AND

if you want to hear a streaming interview with me on KCFR’s Colorado Matters, click here.

AND
Stanford and Pinta
if you want to hear me read in person, come to the Boulder Bookstore at 7:30 p.m. on Monday (tomorrow) evening.

THERE IS ONE CORRECTION I WANT TO MAKE, SINCE IT HAS BEEN REPORTED TWICE NOW THAT I DON’T BELIEVE THAT STAN CAN CURE CANCER. THAT’S NOT THE WHOLE STORY. I KNOW SOME NORTHERN ARAPAHO PEOPLE ON THE RESERVATION WHO CREDIT HIM WITH HAVING CURED THEIR CANCER. I BELIEVE THEM. AND I HAVE A WHITE FRIEND WHO WENT TO THE RESERVATION FOR HEALING, AND SHE’S STILL GOT HER CANCER. THE DETAILS ARE HERE IN A Q&A I DID WITH CAROLINE LEAVITTVILLE FOR HER BLOG EARLY IN MAY:

I have to ask: while in a sweat lodge, you witnessed a cancer coming out of a woman’s body. How is that woman now?

This woman, a good friend of mine who happens to be white, was suffering from a particularly virulent strain of breast cancer that had spread to her bones. She was near the end of the year the white medical doctors had predicted she had left to live and arrived on the reservation gulping Oxycodone (a powerful narcotic pain reliever). After the sweat lodge I refer to in the book, Stanford said we’d gotten the cancer out, but if she continued with chemotherapy, she would die. She felt better than ever after the sweat (sweats, actually — she, me, and about a dozen friends made two trips to Stanford’s in which she did four sweat lodges each and a third trip where we did one sweat before we were stopped by torrential rains), and then went home to Kansas. Cultural conditioning being the unstoppable thing it is, she went back on chemo. Awhile later tumors were found in her brain. She is still on chemotherapy. Her sight is starting to go. But she has lived two years past her predicted survival date and is still dancing at parties and being generally delightful. And she’s not on Oxycodone — she makes do with a couple of Aleves a week. And her doctors think she’s a marvel.

What happens in Stanford’s sweat lodge is unknowable to me, but I do think the attitude of the person there for healing is very important. It’s not a magic wand he can wave over just anyone and BAM, heal them. But it’s a healing method friends of mine on the reservation take very seriously, and it works for them. I know that for me the sweat lodge is a hugely mentally healing process.

For my whole interview with Caroline, click here.

THANKS TO SARAH KARIKO (www.sarahkariko.com) for letting me use the above gorgeous photo of Stanford in the corral, with Pinta

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