Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

Hidden Spring - Praise

A Buddhist Woman Confronts Cancer

“In her memoir, Sandy Boucher shares the story of her yearlong struggle with cancer. We travel with her on a journey across an ocean of physical suffering and emotional dislocation. Yet Boucher survives, both physically and spiritually, offering an excellent example of how the practice of the Buddha’s dharma can prepare one to meet the extremities of suffering. Hidden Spring illustrates clearly some of the ways that feminist spirituality and Buddhist practice intersect, and also offer a great resource for anyone coping with (or anticipating that they might someday have to cope with) a life-threatening or debilitating illness.”—Feminist Collections

“Riveting.... And while the subject of this book is terrible to behold, the message is refreshing. Through this examination of her personal crisis, the author illustrates that anything and everything can be material for practice, that practice is unfailingly available to us in all things, at all times. Sandy Boucher weaves several stories with together with simplicity and grace. [She] has done us a service... This moving record of her journey lights a path on which many of us may one day find ourselves.”—Turning Wheel

“A fiercely honest, richly contemplative, deeply moving account of... Boucher’s struggle with cancer and how her long-established practice of Buddhist meditation—and the loving support of others—helped her cope.”—Yoga Journal

“An intimate, wise, and inspiring book.”—Joan Halifax Roshi, Upaya Institute

“An unflinching, poignant, inspiring account...anyone who has been touched by a serious illness or a death in the family will identify with Boucher’s touching story, and admire the author for her courage and perseverance in bringing this very personal tale to public attention. It will surely leave you in tears.”—Booklist

“An excellent resource not only for cancer patients but also for anyone facing serious illness.”—Library Journal

“This book, with its rare and beautiful courage, stuns me with gratitude. The presence of heart that Sandy Boucher discovers in her journey through hell shakes my life with joy. In Hidden Spring, her most important book, Sandy is the spunky and inspiring spiritual companion we all deserve.”—Joanna Macy, author of Widening Circles

“This is the story of a woman’s boundless courage in the face of illness, the life-sustaining nature of her spiritual practice, and the tremendous importance of friends. Sandy Boucher sends lovingkindness to us, her readers, through her graceful, poignant writing and her wisdom. Her story can be savored by everyone, not just those who are confronting cancer.”—Anne Webster, Ph.D, Director of the Mind/Body Cancer Program, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Hidden Spring is well written, practical and useful. Sandy Boucher describes in fine, accurate, particular language the details of how to apply Buddhist meditations to the experience of suffering, in the realms of both the heart and the body, and especially in the context of cancer treatments, hospitals, and surgeries, and the anxiety of friends. She illuminates the possibilities for realizing ease and joy under challenging circumstances. I found the book accessible, heart warming and down to earth. I hope many people with life threatening illnesses who are facing medical procedures will read Hidden Spring.”—Yvonne Rand, Senior Teacher, Redwood Creek Dharma Center, Muir Beach, California

“... those dealing with cancer will find Hidden Spring a hopeful reality check and guide. Boucher’s description of the dissolution of her relationship was a good reminder for me as a clinician that caner hits right in the middle of it all, not necessarily at a tidy time.”—Karen Wilbur, Ph.D., Fenway Community Health Center

Hidden Spring is an offering to all of us. We never know how deep our practice is until something difficult or terrible happens... This is a manual on how to receive help in whatever form it comes. Step by step we are brought along with Sandy in her struggles, and we come to understand how we might face with fearless compassion our own illness and those of our family and friends.”—Linda Ruth Cutts, Abbess, San Francisco Zen Center, Green Gulch Farm

“Heart-affecting... Hidden Spring is a convincing and inspiring memoir.”—Spirituality & Health website

“A landmark in bringing Buddhist perspectives to the universal experiences of illness and death. Brutally honest... Boucher does a tremendous service not only to the dying, but also to the living. She offers ideas and insights that most of us, left to our own devices, would never get around to until we reached a critical state. The book therefore forces us to confront the tenuous nature of life and to view it as a magnanimous gift.”—Second Opinion

“Diagnosed with colon cancer in 1995, Boucher writes and open and emotional journal of her illness. ...The immediacy of the struggle is appealingly forthright. ...she excels at rendering moments of the process. As her mentor Ruth Denison had taught her, the essence is to be with the pain.’ And that is perhaps the greatest message in writings like this one: a re-conception of the disease as friend, not evil enemy. ...a story of awakening from which we all can learn.”—Parabola

Hidden Spring is an intimate narrative that describes how Boucher’s life experience and Buddhist practice informed her year of uncertainty... In the end, she is saved by her ability to see her mortality with honesty, to laugh and cry, and to live in the temporary setbacks and triumphs of each day.”—Shambhala Sun

“To an outsider, Buddhist meditation can appear self-indulgent, time frittered away buttressing an intransigent ego. To an insider, such as Sandy Boucher, the dividends of meditation can come at unforeseen times, under extreme circumstances, such as facing down malignant cancer. Boucher, a counterculture patchwork of pursuits and causes, sews together a memoir of suffering to rival any proof of the Buddha’s first noble truth. Although her surgery is a success, like so many other cancer victims Boucher’s battle with chemotherapy causes the most damage. Having lost her home, her lover, and her health, Boucher collapses into the spiritual arms of her longtime meditation teacher Ruth Denison. Parallel to the drama of the cancer, we are treated to a minibiography of Denison, who proves to be an oasis of sanity in the desert of Boucher's life. Honest, occasionally compelling, and often unusual, Boucher’s story contains glimmers of Buddhism’s light amid many shadows of human frailty.”—Amazon.com

“This heart-affecting memoir charts her experiences during a one-year battle against cancer and the lessons she learned from it. The one ‘still point’ in this crisis was the Buddhist practice she had cultivated for twenty years... Hidden Spring is a convincing and inspiring memoir.”—Spirituality & Health

“A well-known author (Opening the Lotus: A Woman’s Guide to Buddhism), and Buddhist practitioner/teacher, Boucher draws on Buddhist principles— awareness, compassion, engagement, and acceptance, among others— during her ordeal (she was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer). She provides a basic understanding of key Buddhist principles but places them in the context of her own belief and struggle. As in much of Buddhist practice, Boucher presents her cancer approach as a model and an inspiration, even through the difficulties of pain, despair, and loss of personal relationships. Although the focus of the book is very specific, the themes are not. Hidden Spring is an excellent resource not only for cancer patients but also for anyone facing serious illness.”—Library Journal

“An unflinching, poignant, inspiring account... anyone who has been touched by a serious illness or a death in the family will identify with Boucher’s touching story, and admire the author for her courage and perseverance in bringing this very personal tale to public attention. It will surely leave you in tears.”—Booklist

“Boucher records with total honesty how she remained connected to ‘the work at hand’ of meeting the mental and physical challenges of her illness. Her words resound with the courage she found to make her own journey. Through mindfulness and great compassion, Boucher forges a way through fire to the ‘hidden spring.—NAPRA ReVIEW

“When we think of ‘meditation,’ we think of quiet contemplation, of visualizing sunsets of misty, soft rains. We do not often think of colon cancer, chemotherapy, or unremitting pain. When Sandy Boucher, a Buddhist writer and teacher, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1995 she found that everything she had learned about meditation and about her faith was put to the test. 'It's all very well to meditate in a lovely place, in comfort, but how do you do it in a place of physical disaster?' she asked during a recent visit to Madison. Boucher was here to speak at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church and to stay with her friend, the Rec. Maureen Lewis, rector of the church. She detailed her struggles in Hidden Spring: A Buddhist Woman Confronts Cancer. Boucher’s distress went beyond physical pain. ‘I didn't have health insurance, so I was treated at a county hospital that was overcrowded, chaotic, and, at times, dangerous. On the other hand, it was a teaching hospital and no decision is ever made by one doctor alone, so I received good care.’ Did her 15 years of training in Buddhist meditation ease her burden? Yes. Did it remove the burden? No. What was important, Boucher suggested, was that she didn't have to start from scratch. The years of experience kicked in. ‘One thing meditation did was to help with anxiety,’ she said. ‘The ability to go inward and be still...was a tremendous help.’ Interestingly enough, meditation also helped her deal with well-meaning friends. ‘A lot of people try to make it your fault that you have cancer. They suggest you didn't eat right, or that you smoked. You tend to start looking backward at what you might have done. ‘Well, I'm not giving into that. I'm staying in the right here and now.—Wisconsin State Journal

“Sandy Boucher was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 1995. Pulling no punches, she tells her story in down-to-earth, unflinching fashion in Hidden Spring: A Buddhist Woman Confronts Cancer. She shows how faith and spiritual practice helped her realize joy and healing.”—Arkansas Democrat Gazette

“When diagnosed with stage III colon cancer, Sandy Boucher found herself faced with many choices as she was sucked into a dizzying vortex of change and uncertainty. Her book shares the ongoing reflections of a woman with cancer and the practices that helped her cope with the ordeal of a life-threatening disease. Boucher explores the difficult decisions and debilitating treatment, the dissolution of a relationship, the plight of the uninsured, and the blessings of support groups and friendships. Her Buddhist practice becomes the touchstone that supports and prepares her to meet the mental and physical challenges of her illness. She offers her book as ‘a tiny map of the territory, to help the next woman or man... make the journey.”—NAPRA ReVIEW

“Sandy skillfully demonstrates how her Buddhist practice lights her path of suffering and points to her embracing rather than resisting the consequences. If you ever wanted to know about surviving an illness, and the real value of spiritual teachings at a time like that, read Hidden Spring.”—Center Voice