Religion was all around me as a kid. Like ALL around. I grew up in the dead center of California, which is, contrary to what you might think, not at all glamorous or cultural (unless cows count as culture). I was positively bombarded by religion my whole life, from humiliating myself by clapping loudly in an otherwise silent Mormon sacrament meeting, to screaming the jubilant songs of the Southern Baptist (PRAISE THE LAWD), to taking the blood of Christ in a Catholic mass — no, like ALL of his blood. The Holy Grail of, you liars that's just grape juice. As I grew older, I abandoned all religion, but still felt some lacking. I adopted my Buddhist practices for a number of reasons, primarily because I hoped it would help chill me the hell out.
But honestly, I sort of suck at it. Sort of a lot.
1. The Four Noble HUH?
The Buddhist Philosophy includes: The Three Pancakes — I mean PRACTICES, The Four Noble Truths, The Five Precepts, and finally The Eightfold Path. That’s 20 things. I suspect I’m supposed to have committed those 20 things to memory, you know, since I’m supposed to be living them. Nope. Haven’t done it. Not even close to doing it. Probably never happening. I can’t even remember to drink 8 glasses of water for shit sake. I couldn’t even tell you one of the Eightfold Path. As far as I know, the Eightfold Path runs right next to the Yellow Brick Road and leads to the land of the Gum Drop Fairy. And also let me just point out that one of the Five Precepts is, “do not consume alcohol or drugs.” I mean, come on, seriously? Buddha, you’re really setting me up to fail here.
Meditation is a core concept in Buddhist practice. Ahem. Not so much for me.
Meditation: Expected vs. Actual results
1. Expected: Sit comfortably in lotus position.
Actual: Can’t even get anywhere in the neighborhood of lotus. Can’t even get in the zip code of lotus. Half lotus? Only if I want to break my ankle. WHO DECIDED THAT WAS COMFORTABLE? Lies.
2. Expected: Close your eyes (though some practices allow them to be open in a downward gaze).
Actual: Close eyes and . . . immediately fall asleep, slumping sideways, into a not anywhere near lotus position (let’s just call it savasana aka corpse pose aka I’m dead.)
3. Expected: Employ a mudra (these are the little hand finger shape-y things that look like gang signs — and are ostensibly “grounding”).
Actual: Who are we kidding here? I don’t even know what a mudra IS.
4. Expected: Spend anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 or more hours in silent contemplation (yogic breathing optional).
Actual: Does sleep count as quiet contemplation? No? WELL. I have got the breathing thing DOWN. Down... on the floor. Snoring. Two hour nap. CHECK.
Apparently true love is born from understanding. Blah blah, something about suffering and interconnectedness. Despite that I can’t seem to muster compassion for the guy who cut me off in the Target parking lot, and then flipped me off. Compassion? Confusion. Also Charles Manson, Jeffery Dahmer, The Night Stalker, you see where I'm going here. This one is going to take some work. And probably will require a spiritual advisor.
4. Ill-Will/No Harm
Since the first of The Five Precepts is: Do not kill (sometimes translated as "not harming" or an absence of violence), I am pretty much fucked. Why? Uh… because ANTS and FLIES and FLEAS. What would you have me do here? I tried to let the black ants happily co-exist in universally suffering solidarity, and they invaded my entire house. I’m all for live and let live, but not in my cereal. Just. No.
5. Vegetarian/Vegan (Subset of Do Not Kill. Because animals).
Bacon. The end.