Sort of like Roger and Me, right? Only in the sense that I tried to talk to it and it wouldn’t play with me or let me film it asking it all my silly, annoying, questions.
I don’t remember when I first heard about Buddhism: probably in college. I bought a set of books on the world’s major religions from The Book of the Month Club, which I never read and eventually gave to some lucky thrift store during one of my numerous moves. You can tell
those books were dry and boring I felt really drawn to learn about religion, can’t you?
Anyway, a few years later I took a yoga class, and my teacher had us lie still at the end of every class and sometimes had us sit and meditate. A friend gave me a sweet book that I still have (Moon over Water: Meditation Made Clear for Beginners and Initiates, by Jessica Macbeth). He was seriously worried about me and felt I needed to calm down. A lot. Okay, more than a lot. I tried a bunch of her different meditation techniques and sometimes, on good days, I could stay still for ten minutes before I jumped up and ran around again like the proverbial feathered critter. In any case, that had little to do with Buddhism.
Eventually, I ended up at some summer workshops at Naropa Institute, where I got my first introduction to the real thing. I took a short intro class, tried Zen meditation in a big group, and read a couple of books on aspects of Buddhism. I learned a few years later that there is a lot more to this “not really a religion” than watching the breath and catching your mind when it wanders. A friend of mine became heavily involved in Buddhism (at least one flavor of it, don’t ask me which
). She is the one who helped save my life by recommending Pema Chrodron’s book, Start Where You Are: A Guild to Compassionate Living, which I promised in a previous post to say more about.
Instead, the whole point of this post is to tell you why I am not qualified to say much of anything about this book, although I will tell you that it is a way to awaken the heart. As I read it again, I realize how little I understand her philosophy, but somehow I pulled enough practical wisdom from it all those years ago to start turning my life around. I don’t even meditate any more, although that is the very first tiny step she recommends (meditation is wonderful, not sure why I stopped). I like a lot of what I read, though, like this quote above that is from Chapter 7, where she talks about learning from all that ugly stuff.