Thursday, March 5, 2015

Just for Fun: Buddhism


Sure, people say that you shouldn't bring up politics or religion in mixed company. But I've written about my politics on LtaYL in the past and had not a jot of backlash, so I decided to tackle religion. Besides, just as my politics inform my librarianship, my religion is part of who I am and to be anything less than up front about it feels dishonest.

As you may have guessed from the title of the post, I'm a practicing Buddhist. I have been for about three years now, although I've only been comfortable labeling myself as such for the last two. I spent the first 40-ish years of my life in varying degrees of Judaism. My parents and I were somewhat desultory when it came to attending services regularly, but I was bas mitzvahed at 13 and we went to our synagogue on the high holy days. I even had a personal relationship with our rabbi and his wife. Judaism informed the person I am today, but it has been my culture instead of my identity for a long while now.

A series of things happened in my mid-late thirties, major life changes, that had me revisiting religion. I looked back at Judaism. Considered paganism. Then a friend introduced me to the work of Pema Chödrön, and something clicked. She's an American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun, and her books showed me a way to take the negative in my life and translate it into something positive. That's the basis of lojong, a series of tenets or aphorisms that are guideposts for taking our ingrained habits of negativity and using them for growth. The slogans give you practical ways to make mental room for the world as it is and not just as we see it through the filter of experience.

I may be light-hearted at times about it, but I do take my study of Buddhism very seriously - especially since I see it as something that informs my day-to-day. However, I was having a hard time keeping my studies on track, with all the other things in my life. I actually started another blog to help me keep up (crazy talk for someone who is as busy as I am, I know, but it made sense at the time). If you're interested, it's Lojong Ruminations: Musings of a Nascent Buddhist with Equal Parts Naiveté and Skepticism. I go through phases where I stick to a weekly schedule, but I sometimes go for weeks without writing. Each post considers one teaching/tenet/slogan. I share the research I did and the understanding I've gotten. Usually, since it is still me, I attach it to something popular culture oriented - such as the recent post where I pulled Bugs Bunny into the mix.

As I mentioned above, talking about my Buddhism has been a somewhat uncomfortably personal thing to discuss publicly. I've taken a lot of comfort from the fact that posts at Lojong Ruminations are left alone in relative obscurity, especially when compared to LtaYL. Most get 20-30 hits on average, and the most popular post only has seventy-something views. 

Like I said above, though, I thought it was time to bring Buddhism to my library blog. It's like when someone told me “you’re not fat” so I got angry and wrote a post about size acceptance. Recently, someone challenged my Buddhism and I find myself angry and feeling compelled to  go on the record on a topic of personal importance. It's just time to be more public about my Buddhism.



  1. That author sounds lovely. I am definitely going to check her out! Thanks!

  2. I'm a practicing pagan! Mix of Wicca and Astrau.

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