Schnell, a financial lender and investor, authored The Initiation, a memoir of his encounter in India with Babaji, the legendary deathless guru. Initiated as a swami in India in 1997, Schnell also coauthored Fitonics for Life with his wife, Marilyn Diamond (coauthor of Fit for Life), which offers a comprehensive program for total wellness. Donald can be reached at


Margaret’s death hit us hard. Buddha said that the world was suffering, sorrow, and illusion, and that anything we cling to in the world, including our physical body, is going to pass. If we cling to it and attach to it, we’re going to suffer. But we couldn’t ignore Margaret’s death by saying, “Hey, we’re all Zen Buddhists, and it’s all an illusion.” Someone who we loved and cared about, who had two young children, had died. We were all novices and didn’t know how to process that. By her powerful example, Margaret showed us how the transcendence of suffering lies within each of us. She showed us how to maintain one foot in compassion and one foot in total clarity.

Author DONALD SCHNELL receives a poignant lesson in courage from a young single mother in the Zen meditation group he formed within his military unit.

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