confessions of a modern dharma bum

Buddhism & Meditation

The 3 Jewels Buddha Dharma SanghaI’m an American Buddhist in the Tibetan school. Gelugpa to be exact because I’m a follower of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I meditate, strive to adhere to The Five Precepts, and live as a simple householder. I’ve taken Refuge. I’m still Dad to my three sons, Lisa’s husband, LeBlanc CNE’s President & CEO, Carmel’s son, etc.

Being non-theistic sidesteps questions surrounding the nature of God. Yet it provides the same comforting constructs, moral and ethical backbone, and guide to the spiritual path as God-centric religions. One does end up with a religion without having to dance around an illogical creation myth.

I struggle like everyone else. I enjoy meditation but I can be as lazy as the next person. I enjoy reading books on Buddhism but not the western magazines about it. What I really love is attending teachings given by His Holiness around the country. Hey, some guys go to Vegas or NASCAR races. I study Buddhism with HHDL.

Buddhist sense of humorOne of the things I’m aware of is how Buddhism is being shaped by America at the same time as America being shaped by Buddhism. I’m drawn to the tradition, lineage, ritual, and conservatism of the Gelugpa school. Funny because most who know me wouldn’t call me staid, button-down, or formal. As old as it is I think Tibetan Buddhism is beginnig to see a fast evolution as it melds into the modern world. Listen to HHDL, read between the lines. To paraphrase Olsmobile, this is not your father’s Buddhism. Even His Holiness knows it.

Tibetan Buddhism has been male dominent. That ain’t gonna fly in the West. How about gays? The heirarchy isn’t a top down org chart nor is there a voting body to lobby. Something else bugs me: if incarnation is integral to continuing lineage, how about incarnating in Iowa or Argentina or my kids? Spread it around boys.

My mala

I studied and practiced acupuncture in Boston in the 80s. Traditional Chinese medicine changed the minite it hit our shores. Yes there’s yin and yang, and the five elements, and the twelve organs, the pulse, and all the points but man did it morph. The differences in frequency of treatment, the use of needles without herbs, acupuncutre being part of an integrated approach using different therapies and treatments. The same thing will happen to Buddist practices. Stop and ponder the implications of a Buddhist community that isn’t based on monasteries. Local dharma centers, DVDs and webcasts, and dare I say the Dalai Lama’s celebrity status are changing Buddhism and Buddhism spreads its influence internationally.

Elements of my practice are expressed in these pages. There are also links to others who are on a parallel track. Nothing here is meant to be flip or pop or irreverant. Contemporary Buddhists live in the modern world. The dharma is growing as we grow with the dharma.