By Louis DeLauro
I haven’t written much lately. But just today I tried my best to write something for you. I know some of my friends and family are thinking, Lou, why the hell are you Buddhist? Are you weird or something?
My answer: Yes, I am weird or something, but no, that is not why I am Buddhist.
Maybe a conservative Christian or two is thinking, just for a brief second that Lou worships the Asian round belly guy who likes to meditate. That’s not going to get him into heaven.
Maybe a non-religious friend or two is thinking, just for a brief second that Lou likes to tell people he enjoys the teaching of the Buddha because he thinks it’s cool. But Lou’s not fooling anyone—Lou’s not cool. And as much as he likes those Buddhist teachings, he does a half-assed job of following them.
And maybe a non-judgmental friend or two is thinking, just for a brief second, Lou, I am interested in Buddhism, tell me something that makes me read about Buddhism. Tell me something that makes me yearn to learn more. Tell me something that I can hold onto.
Well, conservative Christian friend, I don’t worship Buddha. I don’t actually worship.
Buddha is just a teacher, or maybe just the representation of teachings that inspire me. Maybe Buddha never existed, but his teachings do. Way before mindfulness became part of the American vocabulary, I tried to find meaning in small moments.
I tried to be present. I tried to be Zen. I tried to accept suffering. I tried to meditate. I tried to find acceptance of my perceived failings as just learning experiences. I tried to observe my surroundings and to be one with this world. Wow, that sounds corny every time I write it or say it. It all sounds corny as hell, but I love it.
All of it.
Sure, I’ve failed at mindfulness time and time again. Sure I’ve failed at Buddhism. But I keep trying to succeed at mindfulness and Buddhism because I love trying. Will I go to heaven one day? Nah. Probably not. I don’t even know if heaven exists. But trying to be Buddhist every day feels like heaven to me.
Well, non-religious friend, you are right. I am a fraud, born in Brooklyn and raised in Jersey.
I don’t pretend that I was born to be Buddhist. When I was a kid I loved my Catholicism and all of the saints. And I still do. Catholic traditions and good deeds still appeal to me. For me, Christmas is a day to celebrate not Jesus’ birth, but to celebrate his teachings.
Jesus taught generosity; “It’s more generous to give than it is to receive.” And, you are right my non-religious, ultra-cool friend, I am not cool and I am often a fool. I write about Buddhism as if I know the way to goodness. The way to inner peace. The way to be. Do I know the way? Nope, I have been lost since the first day I was introduced to Buddhism. I am still completely lost. And I will never find Buddhism, but I will die trying. And trying to be Buddhist feels like heaven to me.
Well, non-judgemental friend, you want something to hold onto, right?
Hold my hand. And I will listen to you.
Hold your words. So you can listen to me.
Hold your breath, And appreciate the air entering and leaving you.
I want to thank you for holding your thoughts and not judging me.
Whatever you do, don’t be Buddhist, if you are uncomfortable with trying.
Because Buddhism is all about trying.
For my conservative Christian friends, my non-religious friends, non-judgmental friends, and others:
I want to give all of you something to hold onto.
So hold onto me. My hand. My words. My love.
And I will hold onto you.
And let’s try not to be judgmental.
Maybe life is all about trying.
Love always, Lou
Editor: Dana Gornall