Thursday, January 10, 2019


The rain is raining all around. This time of year, the lake below my house is visible through the trees, which are bare of leaves.

I've received an application for some Buddhist training which is quite daunting. It's asking for the story of my life (!) which, at this age, is rather full. What do I include? What do I leave out? The divorces? (not relevant) the suicides (also not relevant except that my brother's death propelled me into deeper practice)

They are looking for reliable folk who will stay the course and offer substance to their local community. All well and good. But. I'm old. And white. So there's that. They've warned me that they will be reading many more applications than they can accommodate so the whole thing  may be moot. And I'm not sure where I stand right now with all of it.

After this past year of turmoil in one of my Dharma communities arounds sexual misconduct and the larger Me Too movement, I am suspicious of old forms. Including the 'sage on the stage' model of teaching Buddhism. this isn't to say that I revere and love my teachers, all cut from that model, but I'm looking for something different, something that brings everyone into the room with their own wisdom. Call me impatient and I know just getting the hang of meditating is an important first step, but I oppose the hierarchy that is modeled in Dharma centers. Oppose it. And I believe when we put someone on a throne, abuse of power happens. There are plentiful examples.

Perhaps a Dharma teacher can set me straight but I've long felt uncomfortable with the structure. Almost all religions have a similar structure-the 'expert' who doles out advice and spiritual teachings, and the audience, who presumably doesn't have access to those same teachings. The Buddha did it by himself, he taught himself the path to liberation from suffering and his many teachings all point to that. But he didn't say, worship me and all will be well. He said, try it for yourself and see if it works. So I literally follow that.

Sure I have Buddhas and Quan Yins all over my house. But don't mistake that. They are reminders that we (WE) have the answers in our own heart-minds. The Buddhas or Gods or whatever you wanna call it are all WITHIN US, not in some external place or person.

Noticing I'm hyperventilating. Sorry.

Enough of this rant. Feel free to argue with me, or agree, it's all good. I"m just trying to figure it out. For as long as I have more time to be alive, I will be investigating the truth of the end of suffering, for the benefit of all beings.

Love and kisses,



Ms. Moon said...

Buddhism is so far beyond my ken. It just isn't in my DNA. Nor is any religion although I understand that Buddhism isn't really, technically, a religion at all. I do know that there are parts of it which I could adopt which would in fact help me in this path of life.
And I completely understand your feelings about the "sage on the stage" as you put it so well. I, too, hate that. It seems like eventually there are ALWAYS abuses because power just leads to that with human beings and when we hold someone as a keeper of the knowledge we seek, that leads to them having a sort of power over us. I LOVE your desire to be in a space where everyone comes with their own wisdom because everyone has their own wisdom.
It's too complex for me to sort out but I think you should fill out the application. Why not? Noting ventured, nothing gained, etc.
And do NOT categorize yourself as "old" and "white". You are so much more than those things and also, you're not old. White, maybe. But the wisdom that you would bring is immense and I would think that anyone could recognize that.

37paddington said...

I love this post. Why don't you write your story as a stream of consciousness, allowing whatever finds its way in to be what it is, and apply with complete non-attachment, and see what comes, and see what you choose to do.

beth coyote said...

Love you guys, both of you.


Sabine said...

I admire your dedication and commitment and how you tell it.

Always loved the idea of following something, I am still, maybe more than ever, yearning for some higher power, sacred ritual, ancient wisdom that will explain and guide me through this chaos here.
I tried a lot but I am foolish and impatient. Also, I figured out in my teens that the gurus are just acting out their own desire. As for Buddhism, I am confused, there are too many to choose from, I spent time with Thai boy monks and a Tibetan getse and mindful Thich Nhat Than teachers and silent Japanese and all the hippies back from retreats I am no wiser.

So I stick with the philosophers, esp. Adorno who said:

"I have a particular conception of objective happiness and objective despair, and I would say that, for as long as people have problems taken away from them, for as long as they are not expected to take on full responsibility and self-determination, their welfare and happiness in this world will merely be an illusion. And will be an illusion that will one day burst. And when it bursts, it will have dreadful consequences."

beth coyote said...

Thanks, Sabine, for your thoughts.

It IS confusing, as you say. And I am closer, I feel, in spite of the year we've been through, to some sort of personal 'truth'. I have returned to my feminist roots and the inspiration for my working (and spiritual) life. Without sounding too grandiose, I believe that we all have inherent dignity and worth. We are lovable regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, beliefs, etc etc. And as Rumi has said, "Out beyond our ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. I'll meet you there."

I want to be able to meet myself and others with equanimity and kindness. And if I can achieve that a little bit each day, how i get there is less important. I'm sure I could sit in a cave for years and come out none the wiser. What if we reject the forms, the leaders, the concepts and follow our own hearts?

Illusion is one of the three poisons, as they say. Illusion/delusion-very tricky and hard to discern when we are caught up in that particular snare...

Elizabeth said...

I've always had a problem with authority, so I get it. And I agree.