I was going through the process of 12 step, got a sponsor, did those things that we're supposed to do. But I wasn't feeling it at all. I was just going through the motions and I was not it was not working. And so I asked someone at the treatment center when I was outpatient about how to what what I could do, like what are my options. And he gave me two names and I called both of them. And the first one to call me back was Alejandro Trouble. And that was the beginning of my of my path.
Tibetan Buddhism resonates so strongly with me firstly, because of karma. It is well known to me from past lives and now I am remembering. So it is very dear to me and has stirred deep emotion from my first exposure. I think it is probably this way with most practitioners, once it grabs a hold of you, it’s like welcoming a dear old friend back into your life after a long absence.
Those years were deeply involved with meditation in the path of Raja Yoga, studying the interface of psychology and spirituality, religious symbolism, and raising my fantastic children. In the 90’s, I met a remarkable Canadian born nun, Cecilia Kwiat, and began the ever unfolding process of study, contemplation, and meditation in Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism.
I faithfully, joyfully attended AA meetings for 5 years. During this time I searched for a teacher of meditation. In 1980 I met the 16th Karmapa as above and then Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and began the Tibetan Buddhist Path, though I have a PhD in world religions and psychology I got during this time.
And then at a certain point in around 30 years old, you know, I just was extremely unhappy and it seemed like I shouldn't be because I had, you know, done all the schooling and then gotten these good jobs and then was, you know, making money, which was supposed to be a really important thing, you know, in acquiring the assets. And and I was looking at my life and it just dawned on me that, Wow, you know what? I have all these things and I am actually very empty inside. I don't feel fulfilled.
In his reflections, Ben traces his journey of self-discovery and spiritual exploration. Raised in a Christian family, he found himself questioning traditional beliefs during his teenage years, particularly during confirmation. Drawn to the promise of a universal truth, Ben pursued science, studying material science and delving into quantum theory in graduate school. However, the complexity and lack of simplicity in scientific explanations left him unsatisfied. Amidst his intellectual quest, Ben encountered Buddhist philosophy, initially exploring connections between Buddhism and environmental science. A friend suggested he read Buddhist books, leading him to a profound connection with the teachings of the Buddha, especially through texts like "The Night on the Old Pathway." At around 23 or 24 years old, Ben officially identified as a Buddhist.
My first exposure to Buddhism wasn’t significant. In fact, it was a turn off. A man who claimed to be Buddhist visited our high school and basically told our class his goal was to become a heartless robot. Well, not entirely, but pretty much… There wasn’t any joy.
For Alex, the karmic approach resonated, particularly focusing on desire types—those motivated by what they like. He expressed a preference for a lifestyle seamlessly integrated into everyday life, avoiding a disconnect between meditation and regular activities. Alex embraced the concept of tantra, emphasizing the incorporation of spiritual practices into every moment. He discussed the importance of holding a high-level view after meditation, seeing everything as perfect, pure, and full of potential. To him, recognizing the inherent Buddha nature in beings and appreciating the positive aspects of people's lives were paramount.
As she reached the limits of her knowledge in Hinduism, Shinchok turned her attention to the Mahāmudrā, discovering that Buddhist teachings provided the answers she sought. Her desire for a genuine meditation master led her to a Buddhist center where she encountered the teachings of Je Tsongkhapa. Feeling a profound connection, she embraced Buddhism and its emphasis on devotion, recognizing it as a path to crack open her heart and discover her true self.