In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Stephen T. Butterfield, author of The Double Mirror: A Skeptical Journey into Buddhist Tantra (North Atlantic Books), is “sustained moment to moment by infinite compassion and beauty, often expressed as the kindness of friends.” He lives in Shrewsbury, Vermont.
Something was drastically wrong with my lungs: every night, they made sounds like a basketful of squealing kittens. I was always coughing, had pains under the sternum, and could not push a car or even run up a flight of stairs without gasping like an old melodeon full of holes.
He was a short man with glasses and a penetrating smile, and a high, almost falsetto voice. He was enamored of Oxford English and taught elocution, after his own comical fashion. (Elocution lessons were given at one o’clock in the morning, before an audience of 400 laughing spectators.)
As a Westerner turning Buddhist in 1982, I was concerned about abandoning my “Christian heritage” for a foreign culture. I had never felt completely at home with that heritage: church seemed like a sterile routine, and any form of dogma affected me like one more arrogant know-it-all telling me how I should live.