“How Sharon Salzberg Found Real Happiness” from Lion’s Roar


Sharon Salzberg knows suffering. At age nine, she was dressed in her Halloween ballerina costume, watching Nat King Cole on television, when something went horribly wrong. Her mother started bleeding violently and was whisked away amid the panic of flashing ambulance lights. That was the last time Salzberg saw her mother, who died two weeks later.

Salzberg was sent to live with her grandparents, and when she was eleven her estranged father appeared—a troubled, dishevelled stranger who told her, “You have to be tough to survive life.” Six weeks later, he overdosed on sleeping pills, and for the second time, Salzberg watched her parent being rushed away by ambulance. Her father was never to function outside of the mental health system again.

The adults in her life never talked about loss or grief, and Salzberg learned that silence meant safety. Little did Salzberg know that someday, plunging into the heart of her suffering would be her greatest teacher—and make her the renowned Buddhist teacher she is today.

— Lindsay Kyte in Lion’s Roar