17 October 2007


For an A-type personality to take on Buddhism, it borders on ludicrous. Opinion and judgment forming are as natural to me as drawing breath. It’s effortless and happens often without conscious thought. The opinion just — poof! — pops into my head and then generally flies right out of my mouth without passing Go or collecting $200...leading me directly to jail for tactlessness. This isn’t catty action. I’m not walking around comparing myself to others all day. I couldn’t imagine anything more tiresome. Could you? Exactly. I’m much more fascinated by how people behave, use or ignore logic, or carry about their lives without much introspection. These are the attributes of a bored and narrow-thinking philosopher, not a Buddha.

Being one who momentarily minored in Religious Philosophy (it gave me a chance to argue — I mean, “debate” — for a grade) before going off to film school, I’ve had the opportunity to study the major religions and their dogmas. Remove the politics and egos from them, and all religions are basically the same. Hate to break it to those who think theirs is “the only way”...they are all the way. We simply need to find our own road, whether you believe in a deity, higher power or simply yourself.

Buddhism has always rung truest to me. And the neat-o thing about Buddhism is that you aren’t supposed to believe it on someone else’s word. You are to believe it if and when it works for you. I find that to be a bit ballsy, and totally appealing.

For a long time now, I’ve been told to meditate. “It will do wonders for you,” they said when I would double over from ulcer pain. Yet, the only thing more ludicrous than an A-typer not forming an opinion on something is to sit in silence. Quieting this mind isn’t going to happen. I’ve tried silent meditation many times, and one of two things happens: 1) I fall asleep, or 2) I keep repeating to my brain, “Shut up. Will you please just shut up?!?” Realizing that wasn’t the kind of mantra one should have, I looked for another. Ohm was just too predictable. I harkened back to What’s Love Got To Do With It and went the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo route. It worked for Tina. And, yes, Courtney and I have chanted together. Chanting for me is relaxing and centering, and it does help me let go. Although, second nature does creep in from time to time. After all, I’m A-type down to my blood type.

Buddhism is pretty direct. Karma isn’t complicated; it’s merely cause and effect. What you put out, you get back. What you fail to learn will hit you upside the head at some point, or will certainly bite you in the ass. This is not to say one should walk around in a panic. It means we are meant to be aware of and take responsibility for our thoughts and actions. It really is that simple. It’s Buddhism, not rocket science. It ain’t Mormonism, either.

Recently, when I mentioned having wine at a study group, I was given the down-the-nose-and-over-the-glasses look by one of the senior members. Let me be clear; I wasn’t suggesting getting liquored up before chanting. Even I’m not that sacrilegious. I thought it would be nice for after. Another member suggested that my affinity for grabbing some Buddhies and going to happy hour after our weekly meeting might not be proper practice. Excuse me?

Let me just tell you that the last person I’m going to be judged by is a Buddhist. Come on. That’s like Shakyamuni 101.

But, if judgment is on the table...let’s talk about those who keep their cell phones on during meetings. Make noise during the silent prayers. Interrupt when others are speaking and fail to pay for their share of the appetizers at happy hour. Buddhist or not, that’s simply rude. And the A-type in me can’t turn a blind eye to that. Although, she is learning to bite her tongue.

Buddhists are human and flawed — but at least we are aware of that. Ann Coulter wouldn’t like us because we aren’t looking for perfection, or bothering to force the world into becoming what we are. Which is groovy. No. Like I said, each person needs to find his or her own road. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is the one I’ve chosen. It works for me. I know I’ve racked up some karma, both good and bad, and I own it. Perhaps one day, through this practice, I will have indestructible inner peace and complete acceptance of all things. Oh, wouldn’t that be nice. If not, I just hope to be around for the day that Coulter’s karma comes a calling. It will be worth coming back as a dung beetle just to watch that happen, with popcorn and champers, and TiVo replays. Like I said, human and flawed, with a wicked sense of humor and justice for all.

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