I just finished reading The Accidental Buddhist; a funny, personal story how the author, Dinty Moore, became a Buddhist. The title of his last chapter “What Kind of Buddhist Am I” got me to thinking — what kind of Buddhist am I? Since I don’t like labels, I don’t actually call myself a Buddhist, but if someone asks (which hardly ever happens), I tell them I study Buddhism. Don’t ask me why I don’t like labels. I just don’t, but if you don’t like that answer— it’s because labels create judgment and that creates all sorts of problems.
Moore goes on to answer his own question, “A lousy one. Thank you.” And I can relate to that. I am no saint. I don’t live in a monastery. I don’t meditate in caves. I don’t even go on weekend retreats. The idea of sitting still all day in a room full of people I don’t know, doesn’t interest me in the least, although every weekend, my home becomes my retreat. I meditate several times a day throughout the weekend; listen to inspiring videos about Buddhism, consciousness, and relax to Zen music. My sangha is my husband (even though he doesn’t study Buddhism but is spiritual and mindful) and my pets. My cats are excellent teachers on how to chill out and live in the moment.
My world view is not black and white. When examining an issue, I attempt to look at all sides of an argument and take the middle ground. There is an exception though. I have zero tolerance for those who choose to abuse animals, children and adults who cannot defend themselves. I have no problem defending myself or another sentient being from someone harming them and that includes using violence. I believe in doing no harm BUT at the same time, taking no shit. Just because I want to live in peace doesn’t mean I am a doormat. I must include myself when it comes to compassion.
My language can be “colorful” at times. I like practical jokes. I am not politically correct. If you want to hang around me, you’ll need a thick skin. I’m not touchy feely to strangers, meaning I’m not a good person to “whine” about your problems to. I believe that all of us are responsible for our actions. Sometimes things do happen beyond our control but we have the ability to figure out how to make the best out of a bad situation. When I had cancer, the last thing I needed to hear was someone crying about my disease. If and when that happened, that person was banned from my life until they changed their behavior.
Yes, I get mad, fearful and sad but I don’t let them rule my life. Instead I process my feelings and move on. Whenever possible I turn what could be considered a bad thing in to a funny story.
My main focus daily is to follow the 5 precepts and if I screw up, acknowledge it and do better next time.
I just told you what kind of Buddhist I am, so what kind of Buddhist are you? Feel free to leave me a comment.