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Idol Chatter

The New York Times Home section runs every Thursday and occasionally they run a “Living Together” column. This week’s is more of a human (and spiritual) interest story than a story about interior design. In “Making Their Own Limits in a Spiritual Partnership,” Leslie Kaufman explores the living arrangements of “Michael Roach and Christie McNally, Buddhist teachers with a growing following in the United States and abroad,” who “took vows never to separate, night or day.”
Which means: they live together in a yurt, a 22 foot, canvas-covered domicile in the Arizona desert, sharing a bed, never moving more than 15 feet (!!) apart from each other, while…drumroll please….remaining celibate. Kaufman writes:


“By “never part,” they did not mean only their hearts or spirits. They meant their bodies as well. And they gave themselves a range of about 15 feet. If they cannot be seated near each other on a plane, they do not get on. When she uses an airport restroom, he stands outside the door. And when they are here at home in their yurt in the Arizona desert, which has neither running water nor electricity, and he is inspired by an idea in the middle of the night, she rises from their bed and follows him to their office 100 yards down the road, so he can work. Their partnership, they say, is celibate. It is, as they describe it, a high level of Buddhist practice that involves confronting their own imperfections and thereby learning to better serve the world.”
This partnership has made waves among Buddhist practitioners, with many, including the Dalai Lama, who disapprove of both their living arrangements and relationship–which, to say the least, sounds far more intense than most marriages.
“If they have renounced sex, they have replaced it with a level of communion that few other people could understand, much less tolerate. They eat the same foods from the same plate and often read the same book, waiting until one or the other finishes the page before continuing. Both, they say, are practices of learning to submit one’s will to that of another. They also do yoga together, breath for breath. “We are always inhaling at the same moment and we are always exhaling at the same moment,” Ms. McNally said. “It is very intimate, but it is not the kind of intimacy people are used to.”
Click here to read the whole story. It’s fascinating.

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