“No sessions, no breaks.” This is a saying in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition that seems to be the theme for my spiritual journey. I remember talking to ‘God’ when I was three years old. This was the language I heard around me, echoing from all natural phenomena and relationships. I knew it was about [...]
At 19 I was finishing my second year of college. I was studying fine art photography. One of my professors was very scholarly and her class was very challenging. I was always looking to be challenged. Her subject was East Indian Art. My boyfriend at the time was graduating. He was/is Japanese American and had grown up always being a minority, and wanted to experience being in a place where he was in the majority. We couldn’t afford to travel in Japan, so he chose India. It was about 1980… I took the year off from school. We were serious budget travelers, 3rd class all the way….
In brief, I currently aspire to the Vajrayana path as laid out by the great masters of the Indian and Tibetan Buddhist lineages. Many have dedicated their entire lives to the preservation of their lineage which has been unbroken and thus is an intact living lineage, still “whispered” from teacher to student .
Joking in 1980 as I introduced myself to the workshop leader of a weeklong seminar entitled “Owning your Religious Past”, I described myself as a Zen-Baptist. It was an attempt at the time to show off my witty nature to the attractive teacher. She and I remain married.
i was first exposed to buddhism as a teenager and though this is definitely not for me - all that focus on suffering ! growing up in a catholic family suited my devotional /wild girl nature quite well.
I learned about meditation as a youngster, but it wasn’t until around 2004 that I started going to the Dharma Punx group on Friday nights in SF (the Back of the Bus) and hearing the dharma talks there in a language I could understand and with people that looked like me that I really felt exposed. It became my path when I learned to walk again as a sober man in 2014.
My first exposure to dharma was during my undergraduate studies majoring in Philosophy/Asian Studies. However, this didn’t translate to a personal practice until a few years later when I lost two friends to suicide in a six-month period. The bereavement related to their deaths was so overwhelming that it forced me to seek out additional community and support.
I was more connected to the teacher than the teaching at first. I had a vision of a teacher, in the way you generate a visualization of a deity during some Vajrayana practices, while the lines of “Crying to the Guru from afar” started playing in my head. I had only ever read the text once, so was quite surprised to learn that I had memorized it.
Growing up, my mother would take my brother and I to Chinese Buddhist Temples scattered around the Bay Area on a very sporadic basis. Usually, just a few times a hour, if that. I wouldn’t say that I was introduced to the dharma per se then, but it does have a place in the memories of my childhood as an introduction to traditions and ritual.
My first year of high school I attended an independent Episcopalian school that required us to take a course teaching “world history” and “world literature” as seen through the lens of the religious traditions of the world. The course was constructed explicitly as a rite of passage, and the challenges were so intense that every one of us was transformed by the experience.