When I was in grade school, the disctrict initiated a [then-] unusual program: beginning to teach fourth-grade kids a foreign language. Our class was in French.
For some reason, I picked up on it easily. And kept at it through high school. But in the least decade, I’ve come to realize that If You Don’t Use It (Enough), You Lose It.
Four years ago, my partner and I spent 3 weeks in Paris. I was in heaven. It was like I had come home. Like I was born there, almost.
But I’d like to feel absolutely fluent. Completely.
At first glance, that seems to be a highly undefined goal.
Practically, it would look like this:
- I read enough, speak with knowledgeable people, and absorb enough to feel like I understand the basic tenets and practices
- take certain vows to which I resolve to adhere
- establish ongoing daily meditation practice
- establish an ongoing involvement for myself with my local Dharma Center
How much simpler do I want an intro to Buddhism to be, anyway?
My partner of 13 years has been Buddhist for about 18 months now, and he tells me this book is just about the most concise, direct, comfortable read on Buddhism how-to.
I think I balk a little internally because I grew up in an extremely strict Christian family in northern Illinois. Religion wasn’t thrust upon me; that would have been easy to deal with. No, I was marinated in it.
I hated going to church. Loathed sitting there, having to endure sermons that were worthless to me, having ideologies I found ludicrous foisted on me weekly.
Buddhism isn’t that. At all. It’s three things, as I understand it: developing a definite, austere, and worthwhile morality; living by an ethical code that comes from inside yourself; doing what you can do to help others and erase suffering (more literally, “unsatisfactory-ness”) from the world.
I need to delve into this. And not react to a stifling religious upbringing. I guess I’m saying I don’t want to bring my baggage into Buddhism.