Albert reflects on the impact of the temple in his life, appreciating the growth it facilitated in meditation and a new way of thinking through the Dharma. The shift from a limited spiritual practice to embracing Buddhism allowed him to realize the power of controlling thoughts and words, influencing outcomes.

The Dharma teachings challenged Albert’s previous understanding of spirituality, encouraging him to question and embrace a broader range of emotions. He learned that the practice of Buddhism is not confined to a specific time but an ongoing, daily effort to control thoughts and welcome challenges.

Albert shares his struggle with depression and how Buddhism became his tool for combating it without medication. Through meditation and changing his mentality, he found the strength to face depression head-on, realizing the power of self-respect and the ability to change through the practice of breathing.

Daily challenges persist, but Albert has learned to change his perception of them. The combination of Dharma, Sangha, and his practice results in transformative moments, allowing him to love, respect, and smile. He emphasizes that the division between different forms of practice is a creation of the logical brain, while the spirit transcends labels. For Albert, Pure Land Buddhism is not just a religion; it’s his pathway to happiness and self-love.


Reflecting on her transformative journey with Buddhism and Dharma, Amber underscores the profound impact these philosophies have had on her interpersonal connections. She credits her understanding of compassion and interdependence for enabling her to cease blaming others and foster empathy for their struggles. Growing up in a culture of individualism, Amber found solace in the collaborative nature of Sangha, realizing that a solitary practice can coexist with collective energy.

Amber narrates her evolving perception of solitude and community, encountering monastics who live contentedly without romantic relationships. Exploring meditation techniques like tonglen, she highlights the practice of sending out positive energy and taking in suffering, emphasizing the interconnectedness with others. This shift in perspective allows her to find purpose in her own suffering and extend compassion to others.

The geographical change from Brooklyn to Woodstock, bringing her closer to the monastery, becomes a metaphor for her internal transformation. Nature, once distant, becomes a vital part of her practice, and she recognizes the importance of aligning her surroundings with her spiritual journey. The move signifies her understanding of karma as responsibility, not blame, and the ability to shape her environment.

Amber delves into the impact of chanting and Puja on her spiritual growth, initially struggling but eventually finding joy and connection in these practices. The communal aspect of chanting and making offerings becomes a source of profound connection, contrasting with her previous cultural experiences. Through Buddhism, she embraces a lens of responsibility, acknowledging her karma and utilizing it as fuel for devotion and practice.

Amber describes the profound connection she feels to the Sangha and the timeless practice of Buddhism, emphasizing the unbroken lineage of teachings passed down through generations. The act of making offerings becomes a transformative experience, fostering gratitude and shifting her mindset from scarcity to abundance.

As she reflects on her privileged upbringing, Amber recognizes her duty to give and serve, expressing a commitment to living with compassion and serving as an example. Chanting brings her a joy that was previously absent, making her appreciate the singular focus and purpose it provides. Her ongoing practice embodies a beginner’s mind, rooted in the joy of the practice itself, irrespective of the need for an external purpose. Amber hopes to preserve this perspective, maintaining a lifelong commitment to her spiritual journey.


Christopher reflects on the theme of resilience in the context of emerging from a nearly three-year pandemic. He highlights the transformative capacity to face challenges with less reactivity, showcasing a newfound ability to be present in difficult moments. Christopher emphasizes the subtle, daily awakenings experienced through his practice, recognizing moments of grace and cultivating equanimity.

The practice has led Christopher to a state of radical okayness, where even in challenging situations, he feels a calm and grounded sense of being okay. He shares his personal journey of overcoming addiction to the self-conception of being a martyr, realizing that this narrative was a story imposed by others. Embracing the teachings of the Buddha allowed him to let go of the martyr identity and find a groundedness in life that was previously absent.

Christopher explores the trap of “idiot compassion” within some Buddhist circles, acknowledging that becoming a Buddhist doesn’t mean relinquishing a rich emotional life or avoiding compassionate anger. He shares a poignant story about acknowledging and apologizing to maggots while washing them down the drain, illustrating a newfound connection to interdependence. Another story involves him rescuing worms after a heavy rain, reminiscent of the starfish story, demonstrating a deepened compassion that he attributes to his Buddhist practice.

Ultimately, Christopher expresses gratitude for the teachings of the Buddha and the Sangha, noting that his journey has allowed him to become more open to asking for help—a significant shift in his approach to life. He recognizes the freedom that comes with acknowledging one’s limitations and being receptive to the teachings of Buddhism.


Donovan reflects on his journey of recovery from substance abuse, highlighting the pivotal role of his encounters with Alejandro Trouble. Following inpatient treatment and outpatient care for various substance use disorders, Donovan embraced a medical-based approach rooted in complete abstinence and a 12-step program. However, he struggled to connect with these methods, feeling bound by fear and unable to find a safe space within himself.

Meeting Alejandro marked a turning point for Donovan. Engaging in one-on-one sessions, they explored spiritual practices that resonated with him on a deeper level than the 12-step program. Incorporating breathwork, sound, and visualization, Alejandro helped Donovan connect more profoundly with his inner self. This spiritual approach proved transformative, providing Donovan with a sense of peace and a safe space within.

Alejandro’s teachings on visualizing a safe space, accepting traumatic experiences, and integrating daily practices gradually enabled Donovan to release deep-seated anger and fear. Over time, Donovan found himself naturally incorporating these practices into his daily life, resulting in a profound transformation. His connection with the sangha, regular practices, and the integration of Buddhism became a fundamental aspect of his identity, influencing both personal and professional spheres. Today, Donovan credits this spiritual connection with saving his life and considers it a constant and positive presence that has permeated every aspect of his being.