In September 1994 I was eighteen I went to Marine boot camp a week later I was sent home honorably discharged for medical issues. A few weeks later my grandmother had a stroke, she would be gone by Thanksgiving.
Before I left for boot camp my family threw a party for me because I wouldn’t be able to have Thanksgiving with them or my grandmother. My grandmother was someone that always told me I could do anything, even when she was lying in her hospital bed she told me this.
After her passing I was in bad shape, my world was torn apart, the woman that I idolized and respected above all others was gone and so too was my future. Looking back nearly twenty years later I know that I was sent home to watch my grandmother move on and to watch our family grieve.
At the time I was an angry eighteen year old pissed off at the world. I happened to be in the book store one day looking at books in the New Age and Eastern Philosophies section and picked up a book about Buddhism, now I don’t remember that book only the ones that came after. I sat in the book store and read at least two chapters of the book, one of them was on meditation.
That night I sat in my bed and tried to meditate. For someone that grew up in Utah and knew nothing of Eastern thought it felt weird. I listened to my breathing as the book said, and that was when I felt it, the warm glow. It was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life and every meditation session I feel it, some times it lasts longer than others.
I never told anyone about that first experience, until this post. There are times in our lives we need something. Something to help us find who we are. That one thing to help us understand ourselves.
Understanding yourself and who you are is the most important thing you can do for yourself. It took me until my late twenties to discover who I was and until my early thirties to truly begin to understand myself.
My early twenties I was lucky enough to find a book that changed the way I looked at who I was and who I could be. “Awakening the Buddha Within” by Lama Surya Das is the book that did this. I have never met Lama Surya Das but I’ve read most of his books and him along with the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh (Thây) are the ones I consider my teachers.
Finding the Way changed everything about who I am. I am less angry than I was before, my family will vouch for that. I no longer let people with negative energy in my life. I’m not perfect, and I’ll never claim to be. I will always claim to be human, with faults.
I know where my faults lie and I’m still working through them. I have forgiven those that are no longer in my life because there is no reason to hate.
I am not a pure Buddhist, I drink alcohol occasionally (something I’m trying to stop), I eat meat and there are times I judge people, I don’t meditate as often as I should but I’m getting better. My judging times are becoming fewer the older I get and the more I read of the Dharma.
I feel like my life truly began when I found my Way. I notice things about myself every day that are more Buddhist like, small things that make me smile and sometimes I like to think that where ever my grandmother was reborn she sees me every day and smiles, that would make me happiest.
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. – Buddha