Friday, July 15, 2011

The day I knew Buddhism was right for me was…

I posed this question a few weeks back on Twitter and I got some great responses. He are some of them:

@MrsCapra: When I read the book “Buddhism is not what you think”

@Zenfant1969: When I saw what I already knew had been written down 2k yrs ago

@ZenDirtZenDust: The day the bottom fell out of my pail

@checkbak: The day I broke 20 years of resistance and walked into a meditation center

@ruralhybrid: When I saw Lama Yeshe say calmly on video, “check it out for yourself”

@bodhichittah: The day I lost everything around me but glimpsed (gained!) a new world within

@Bohicitta3000: When I knew I have to be the carrier of my own banner and not blindly follow one

@ShojinRJB: The day when I learned no discrimination on the zafu

@mindonly: I remember reading a little "basics" book & thinking 'wow, I've always thought that' & 'that makes perfect sense'.

I thought it would be an easy question for me to answer as well, but I found that I really struggled with defining a single day, a single moment or epiphany when I knew that Buddhism was right for me. I guess for me it was really a process that took approximately two years.

If I had to pick a single statement, however, I think I would go with @ZenDirtZenDust’s response: The day the bottom fell out of my pail.

Buddhism is a path, and like any other path, we decide to follow it because something about the path’s beginning appeals to us. Along the way we see and experience different things and at some point we make a decision, conscious or unconscious, that we chose the right path.

My first experience with Buddhism was going with a former boyfriend to a Buddha’s birthday celebration at a temple in the Lansing, Mich., area. During that visit, the monk’s Dhamma talk really struck home with me. It was welcoming, but also presented boundaries that made sense. A seed was planted. Because it was at least another 18 months before I found myself at that temple again, this time alone and feeling like I had lost control of everything, including myself.

The bottom had fallen out of my pail, and when it did, the first thing that came to mind was that evening Dhamma talk. Without hesitation, I got into my car and drove 90 minutes to the monastery where I began walking the path.

But when did I know, when did I become aware, that I had made the right decision? I’m not sure, but I know I did.


  1. The pail analogy was from a zen folk-story about the nun Chiyono. After studying for years she was unable to see any result from her meditation practice.

    One night she was carrying water in an old pail. The pail broke and the bottom fell and at that moment Chiyono was enlightened.

    She wrote a poem as recognition for this event:

    In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
    Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
    Until at last the bottom fell out.
    No more water in the pail!

    I found myself in a similar situation. Years of interest and study was nullified in one moment. One sudden change, a sudden realization. While I don't consider what I experience as an enlightenment moment, I do realize that it was a moment with the rubber of practice hit the road of life.

    A point of contact.

  2. Very cool! So interesting to see these comments. For me, it's a mixture. I think the defining moment was at the beginning, while reading "Savor" by THN, when I was introduced to the Four Noble Truths. I instantly realized that this is how I have been living and solving problems (I'm a professional problem solver) my whole life and I was astonished to find that this was fundamental to Buddhism. Then, over the last year, the more I learn (and I learn DAILY) the more certain I am that I made the right choice. At first I called myself "interested", then "Buddhish" and recently I've taken to considering myself a full on Buddhist. Thanks for this post!

  3. @Jack Daw, I remember the first time I heard you mention that phrase, it made total sense to me! I completely got the Gestalt!

    @Mondo Samu, I think I might have been primed by a different source, and that was "Reality Therapy" by William Glasser. That book made complete sense, and as I began to explore the Dhamma, I readily accepted it because it was verifiable. It's spiritual reality therapy :)

  4. hmm... I missed the boat on the original call for comments, but the moment I knew Buddhism was right for me was when I realized I could be still... and happy.

    It was at the end of a 2 day retreat. I was 20 and it changed everything for me.

  5. @Justin, it's never too late to share your own experience! And you know, I've never done a serious retreat.