Q:What is your favorite thing about Buddhism?
That’s a great question. To answer it, I need to tell a little story about myself.
When I found Buddhism, I was in a very dark period of my life. I was searching for meaning, searching for a reason why bad things seemed to keep happening to me. I had a very rough childhood. It seemed like every romantic relationship I tried was a disaster. I just couldn’t get my life together.
Then I met my teacher. She was hosting a meditation group at a local Universalist Unitarian church, so I thought I’d try it out. At first I just meditated once a week with the group, but pretty soon I had taken her advice and begun meditating a little every day.
Things got worse. I felt angry all the time. Depressed. Anxious. I went to her in desperation. “I think something is wrong,” I said, and explained how I was feeling. She said, “nothing is wrong. That’s how you were feeling the whole time. You just didn’t realize it.”
So I guess my favorite thing about Buddhism is that it keeps me honest. After several years of meditation, it’s much harder to lie to myself about how I’m feeling, about the condition my body and mind are in, etc.
It was terrible to get in touch with those emotions I’d been carrying around, don’t get me wrong, but feeling those feelings head-on for the first time in my life was an impetus to slowly begin to change things.
And now, many years later, I have a decent job, am engaged to a wonderful woman, and suffer much less than I once did, mostly because through Buddhism I was able to identify what Buddhists call the root of my suffering, which is an attachment to certain thoughts and ideas about the world. I was perpetuating my own suffering unconsciously and didn’t even realize it, and once I began to realize this, I was able to slowly untangle those aspects of my life which before had seemed so mysteriously painful.