"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

08 December 2011


Rohatso is supposedly when the Buddha had his ah-ha! moment in the shade of the bodhi tree. I noted the passing of the holiday with a belly full of bar-b-que. Then again, I am a heretic. A fact I not only readily admit to, but sometimes all but brag about.

It was ten years ago to the day I took my refuge vows, the Buddhist equivalent of baptism someone once told me. My sangha was a lovely British woman who looked Sinead O'Conner in saffron robes. It was fantastic. Even and especially when she broke it down in Sanskrit. I found myself getting both theologically and linguistically erect when that happened.

I started calling myself a Buddhist when I was twenty-two, just before my daughter was born, but didn't take the vows for another seven years. That Rohatso, Jezebel asked me what it was like to be a real Buddhist. With a shrug, I told her it wasn't any different than the prior seven years. That night I went out drinking with some punk-rock friends.

Being a heretic, I've never been under any obligation to be a good Buddhist...


  1. Man, being a Buddhist sounds pretty damn sweet.

  2. I suppose so. For me, it's at least interesting.

    Thanx for following.

  3. One oddly enjoyable aspect of Buddhist--for me at least--is when you tell someone you are. What conversations I've had over the years..!!

    I think in the West the belief is that a Buddhist is bald, lives on a mountain, only eats rice while wearing long colorful robes and ringing prayer bells. A woman once said to me, "I thought only men could be Buddhists." I enlightened her. (Sorry. Couldn't resist that one).

    As a semi-functioning, usually failing, practitioner of awareness, several years ago, on Bodhi Day, I got a small 2" Buddha tattoo on my left innner forearm. He sits cross-legged, smiling, and floating in the air. Every day I am reminded to be in the moment and try harder.

    That's the beauty of Buddhism: it doesn't matter that you fail, it only matters that you try.

  4. I can empathize about the conversations and the kooky western perception. My best story for that involved someone who told me it was ethnically incorrect for me to be a Buddhist. Seriously.

    Most of the tattoos on my left half-sleeve are Buddhist in nature. The exception being my first, which is a yin-yang suspended within flames and a chaos star, but that's another story.

    At it's heart, Buddhism is a philosophy, that's pretty well how I see it. The religious trappings are what was picked up over the centuries of evolution as the philosophy spread. Perhaps it seems hokey, but I think it's one that works.

  5. I agree on the philosophy aspect, most definitely over the religious. Buddhism, for me, isn't about religion or beliefs or doctrine, it's about freeing the mind; seeing; being awake.

    One of my most favorite stories about the Buddha...
    After his enlightenment a man asked him if he was a god. The Buddha said no. The man asked if he was a sorcerer? A wizard? The Buddha said no. The man asked if he was an angel. Again the Buddha said no.
    "Well then, what are you?" asked the man.
    The Buddha replied, "I am awake."

  6. I think that's my favorite tale too.

  7. One of my sons is studying Buddha. I think he'd be a better Buddhist than I am a Christian. I like to argue with The Lord. (good times)

  8. I have many fine books if needs be. If the PTL scandal, back when I lived in North Carolina didn't prove I wasn't a Christian, than it was when my father had his first heart attack; I called the Christian god a dick and double-dog dared him to strike me down...I was, twenty-one and impetus at the time.