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megan rose

My Buddhist Introduction

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megan rose

I’m putting my first post here in the Buddhism forum, where I feel most at home.    For I felt the torment of spirit even more strongly than my human torments and Buddhism became entwined in my life even more strongly than my gender.

I found Buddhism in high school, long after rejecting my culture’s expectations of Christianity.   It was a breath of fresh air, but, like many other things in a small town, a forbidden interest.   It became a part of my secret self nonetheless…

Perhaps 7 years later, after becoming an engineer moving to New York, I found a Zen community.   It was Rinzai Zen, which teaught fierce denial of self and pursuit of enlightenment.   The idea of non-self was something that stuck with me:  Whether I fit in my body, whether I fit in society, whether any of that made sense, really did not matter.   Nothing mattered, certainly not my inconsequential, problematic self.   The more I dropped into depression, the harder I practiced, hoping that great Enlightenment would free me from all suffering.

After several years of hard practice and near suicide, I was given a book, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”.  Written by a Soto Zen master in San Francisco, it was seemingly opposite to the Rinzai approach, far less focused on Enlightenment as it was focused on being at peace with our surroundings.  

So, in the mid 70’s, I gave up my engineering job, piled my belongings in my van and moved to San Francisco.   I spent a year in and out of the monasteries of the SF Zen Center.   Outside of Zen Center, it dawned on me that all of my acquaintances were gay.   I was an introverted and immature, and the gay community was warm and welcoming.   I did think I’d found the missing parts to my personal puzzle.   But not.   A year later, I met my wife to be, and my practice of Zen along with my personal problems became secondary.   We lost ourselves in the hippy fog of the times.

Although I hadn’t formally practiced Zen for many years, I kept Suzuki’s book and Zen practice in mind, doing my best to adhere to it, but also living an easy path.   Perhaps too well “medicated” to be enlightened.   I can’t remember much from those times…

Around 15 years ago, I felt the stirrings again…  Perhaps approaching mortality has that effect.   I found a Tibetan Buddhist community.   Their teachings are different from Zen, but similar enough.   I was once again trying to find peace with my karma.   And, like peeling back an onion, I finally arrived at that barrier again:   I was in profound torture with the state of my body.   Whose was it?   Why was it?   I couldn’t make peace, even after 30 years.   I realized that I belonged in Zen, and found a Zen center in a Korean lineage.    

And ten years ago, I discovered Laura’s Playground.   It was a late discovery to me:  The nameless dread for the first time had a name.  And I transitioned over the next few years. I did take a break from Zen for a time.   Health issues resulting in a couple of surgeries were the primary reason.   Maybe not:   The dichotomy of the nonself of Zen, and the very selfish act of transition were unresolved.   It became my personal koan:  who is this who transitioned?   I continued my practice again, this time at a Soto lineage sangha.   But life takes its turns.   Today, I have no sangha or practice, though I remain close to many with whom I’ve practiced, and even my most recent Zen master.  

Nowadays, I’ve found myself working far more than I would like, taking care of my mate with her health issues, and not able to travel to the Zen Centers to practice.   I’ve relished the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and the wisdom of Dogen, Suzuki Roshi, and many others.

It was Dogen Zenji, who said “My life is a continuous mistake.”   I am that.   It was Thich Nhat Hanh who taught, “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them."  I find that wisdom to go to the core of my own Koan.   I’ve not concerned myself with my self-opinion, and gone about my living.   My first real Zen Master, Suzuki Roshi – who said, “let your thoughts come in the front door, and pass out the back, but don’t serve them tea.”   So, here we are.  After all of those profound thoughts, one is left in the very moment not serving them tea.

I’ve spent many years looking for perfection, or for enlightenment, or simply freedom from torment.  And most of the time now, I realize that perfection exists always, within the very thread each moment.   I’ve transitioned, and it hasn’t changed much, really.   It gives me a sense of ease to interact with the world, no longer in male disguise.   And in the joy of living each moment…

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Cyndee

Hi Megan Rose and thanks for your intro post dear. I find this statement from above beautiful and compelling " I realize that perfection exists always, within the very thread each moment".

 

Hugs and welcome

 

Cyndee -

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Charlize

Welcome back Megan.  It was lovely to read your post.  Thank you for sharing a path that i have walked at times.  I sat Zen in the late 60's but then became active in a marriage, family and slowly an addiction to alcohol.  With sobriety and with a view of my end i've reopened to experiencing life with peaceful acceptance.  I certainly often serve tea (or coffee)to my thoughts  but i feel i'm on the path again.  Perhaps the honesty i found in sobriety and transition is helping me make each step.  Fear, guilt and dishonesty clouded my eyes too long.  I enjoy this quote from Chao-chou:  " The Way is not difficult; only there must be no wanting or not wanting".   

 

Hugs,

 

Charlize 

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Jani

Hello Megan and welcome back.  Thank you for sharing your times with us.  

 

Jani

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tracy_j

Welcome back Megan ❤️

 

Tracy

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