taking refuge

it’s official: i’m a buddhist now!

Mom and the book she gave me for Christmas that made me a BuddhistI was raised an Espiscopalian but left the Church as a teen-ager. Several years ago I’ve become a Buddist. I’ve converted or as Ben says, now I’m a card carrying member.

Three years ago my Mom gave me a book/DVD set about meditation for Christmas. I lost the DVD before I had a chance to watch it but I did read the book. The timing was right, the message found fertile ground, and the journey began. To this day I tease my Mom for making me a Buddhist. She says she doesn’t remember where or why she picked that gift out.

A couple of books later, Lisa & I attended a public talk the Dalai Lama gave in Vancouver BC. The moment he walked into the room I burst into tears. His presence was proof that everything in the books was true. The theoretical was possible.

Lisa and I attended a teaching in San Francisco after that. Over the years I’ve heard public talks and attended teachings, rituals, & initiations. The public talks I call Buddhism Lite. The teachers are another kettle of fish altogether.

Teachings on sutras are given in Tibetan and translated for the rest of us. The Sangha (monks and nuns) are the intended audience. The rest of us are there for the ride. Don’t get me wrong. There are many devoted practicioners in attendance, Tibetan and otherwise. It’s just that the teachings are The Real Deal. Undiluted, the lineage being passed on, mouth to ear, the straight sh*t.

I Took Refuge with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bloomington IL in Oct 2007. Sorta snuck up on me at a teaching on Atisha’s “Light for the Path of Enlightenment”. On the last morning His Holiness goes on about how some of us might be looking for a teacher, let’s not make this a cult thing, and here we go...

When I left the auditorium the three people ahead of me were having the conversation among themselves that was going on in my head. “What just happened? Was that what I think it was? That was it, wasn’t it?” When I listen to the webcast now, I “hear” things other than I did back then. Must be that direct transmission thing, ehhh?

In Madison WI in Jul 2008, the Dalai Lama gave a teaching on Shantideva’s “Guide to a Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” and Kamalashila’s “Middle Stages of Meditation”. A long life ceremony (Tenshug) was performed for His Holiness and in the midst things I took Bodhisattva vows. Again, not exactly what I went there for but obviously it was why I was there.

My son Bryan and I attended a teaching on The Four Noble Truths given by the Dalai Lama in Long Beach CA Sep 2009 where I took refuge and Bodhisattva vows again, with my son as a witness.

Click here for more about taking vows (including hearing me recite them)...

I’m looking forward to the liberation of all sentient beings now and in future lives. I can’t get on The Mothership until everyone else does. I think of vajrayana as communalism. Works for me.

Q: What’s the most unique thing about me?
    a.) I’m a Cleveland ex-pat
    b.) I’m a Black man in high tech
    c.) I’m a Dharma bum
    d.) all of the above
A: all of the above

om mani padme hum     heart sutra     black buddhists     sand mandalas     eightfold noble path     endless knot     buddha machine