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  • Writer's picturejshannon727


Many years ago, I read an autobiographical novel by a young woman who spent several months studying Buddhism in a monastery with other like-minded people (and presumably some qualified monks). Sadly, I don’t remember the title or the writer’s name. It was a tiny book most likely picked up at a yard sale or from the discard table at the library. I can only dream that books I’ve written, but not yet published, will meet with a similar fate.

After her initiation, the young woman was given a mantra by her teacher. The mantra is typically a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation. Hers was, “I am empty and impermanent.”

Something about the simplicity of that statement stuck with me. It gave me a sense of calm. It steadied me. I embraced it as my own. Which I hope was the writer’s intention.

  • Winter riding breeches tighter around my middle than I remember – “I am empty and impermanent.”

  • Wind howling above the rafters of the indoor riding ring – “I am empty and impermanent.”

  • Horse darting away from an invisible and silent monster – “I am empty and impermanent.”

  • Unable to sit the sitting trot – “I am empty and impermanent.”

It was only recently that I learned that meditation teachers imply that the revelation of your personal mantra may have dire consequences. I wondered if the young woman was warned about this. After all, her book was published posthumously after she lost her life in a freak bus accident.

I’m grateful for her generosity. I’m indebted for her gift. And although I use the mantra as a safety net and not a meditation tool, I don’t think she would object.

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