My first contact was when I was about 10 years old. My parents brought home from Thailand a carved wooden Buddha image that I was just naturally drawn to. After my mother told me a little about the Buddha, mostly about compassion, I went and looked up the entry under Buddha in the 1953 edition of the encyclopaedia brittanica we had in our house. Even at that age, however much I could understand and glean from that dusty old tome resonated with me. Shortly afterwards I remember correcting my Christian Brother teacher who denigrated the Buddha by stating untruths about him.
Some years later my interest was reignited.
Sometime after my mother died, an older brother loaned me a copy of Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which probably had less to do with Zen than it had to do with Pirsig's obsessions. I then moved on to Alan Watt's 'This is It' and 'Cloud Hidden' when I was 15/16, and works by Suzuki Roshi.
At around the same time I invented my own meditation technique that, in retrospect, was very similar to what I've been doing these two and a bit decades. I didn't take refuge for another few years while I continued to rediscover Christianity and the Upanishads, with a short foray into the works of Madame Blavatsky.
It was on my 22nd birthday, and some say the full moon night of wesak, that I took refuge for the first time in 1985 under the guidance of assistant teachers to, my teacher, SN Goenka. That moment was like a home-coming to me.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725
(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •
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