Article I: My husband has a smile like a sunrise, dimples to die for, and blue eyes so clear a gal could drown in them. He is tall, with shoulders broad enough to carry all my worries. And his arms? Well, let’s just say that when we met, I entered his name in my cell as “Trent Great Arms”. I love him with all my heart, and I still can’t believe he picked me to spend his life with. (I promise this is pertinent information to my Buddhist Experience).
Meditation conversation in my mind:
You could have brushed your hair this morning you know–or at least your teeth! But I was in a rush! I didn’t want to be late! See, this is what you get for being lazy.You deserve to feel uncomfortable there on your meditaion mat, wondering if Mr. Hotness can smell you from a foot away. You should have showered!Well. I never considered the .000001% possibility that one of the hottest guys I’ve ever seen would sit on the cushion next to me! Well!You should have!!!
It was a fall Sunday morning, and I was attending the “Introduction to Buddhism” class at my local Buddhist temple. [I know, I know. I was supposed to be meditating, but all my resolve flew out the (small) window when Mr. Hotness (MH) strode in and chose to sit on the cushion right next to me, and I became distracted by my state of being which can only be aptly described as SWAMP THING. ]
This was my first time in a Buddhist temple, and the first Thirty by Thirty experience that required me to remove my shoes. (It would not be the last!) It was also the first time I had visited a non-Christian place of worship and, though I consciously enjoyed the use of color, flags and the distinctly Eastern temple decor, I think I was subconsciously looking for a cross and, instead, seeing a Buddha. (Disconcerting for a former Evangelical Poster Child raised to believe people of other religions were worshiping idols…and quite possibly the devil himself.In my past, Buddhist were clearly confused and most definitely going to hell. Apparently in a hand basket lined with meditation cushions.)
So. Barefoot and sitting atop a purple cushion in a small room off the main (sanctuary? meditation room?), I was already feeling vulnerable and out of place…even before MH’s arrival. He simply served as a further distraction from my meditation and attention to the wizened yota-man instructing our class. ( I’d like to refer now to Article I of this post re: My Hot Husband. I have discussed this encounter with him and he agrees that a hot girl would distract him from meditation, if he were so inclined to meditate. Which he is not.)
Seated behind what looked like a pulpit with the legs cut off, an old teacher was perched on a sort of slanted stool that enabled him to be near to the ground without having to bend his (elderly) knees too much. His cane rested next to the mini-pulpit, and I found myself envisioning the many ways he could break a hip getting in and out of teaching posture.
Pay attention,self! How many opportunities do you have to learn about Tibetan Buddhism from a life-long devotee? Stop wondering about the staus of his joints and (for Buddha’s sake!) quit contemplating your lack of beauty and hygiene! You are HAPPILY MARRIED! Who cares if MH thinks you smell?
[For the record, I must not have actually smelled, because MH later hit on me during the post-meditation tea service. More on that later. Still, I had reason to be insecure. I could have at least worn chapstick...or decent clothes! At this point I'd like to offer my husband's wisdom on the subject: Maybe the Buddhists use hot guys to lure girls like you into conversion.]
Back to the lesson: a brief primer of the study and practice of Buddhism. The temple’s name means “Place of the Buddha’s Teachings of the Three Vehicles in the Karma Kagyu Tradition,” and they study teachings and practice meditation from all three vehicles of the Buddhist dharma. Their three main practices are Quiet Sitting Meditation (called “Shinay” in Tibetan); Compassion Meditation (“Tong-len”) and Mantra and Visualization Meditation (Sadhana Practice, with Chenrezig, the Compassion Bodhisattva). One begins by practicing Shinay, followed by a daily practice of Tong-len which helps develop the altruistic motivation of the “bodhisattva,” or Buddha-in-training and helps uproot negative habits of mind.***
The lesson was followed by twenty minutes of Shinay, during which I silently warred with myself to keep my mind off topics such as: my aforementioned state of Ugliness and its impact on MH’s opinion of me, various issues at work, the grocery list, Oxley’s house-training, whether we should paint the porch next summer, if our deck would ever be finished and why does that darn fly have to be buzzing around and bumping into the window. Die already! Ooops…so my for my compassion and earlier Zen commitment to bring no harm to any sentient being. Wait, is a fly sentient? Also during this time, I briefly considered the secret ingredient of my grandmother’s macaroni before moving on to what I planned to eat for lunch. Ooooh I should totally get Vietnamese! With extra bean sprouts! Maybe Erin will come with me.I need to call her. And, oh yeah, send Liz a birthday card.
Second problem: my ability to remain motionless while sitting cross-legged on the floor rivals that of a class of kindergartners with ADD. Class, Remain Seated! I mean it…sit down and don’t move!
This was all in the first thirty seconds.
Tibetan Buddhist Meditation=epic fail.
Finally, thankfully, the gong sounded to end the meditation session. I could finally get up…or could I?
To be continued in Part 2: Buddhists Have Bake Sales Too!
***Some verbiage from the temple’s website