There must have been a time when I wanted to be a Buddhist. I say this with some assurance and yet cannot remember when it was or what it was like. I infer it from other adventures in which I was once an enthusiastic beginner and, well, you know, wanted to be counted as part of the club or membership or clan or whatever.
At that time, I imagine, I thought that the acknowledgment of others, whether personal or by way of some ritualized stepping stones, would do the trick. I needed to accumulate the requisite stamps of approval and then at last I would be -- and could be assured that I was -- a Buddhist. Up until that time, I was sort of a Buddhist in waiting -- doing what I could, but still lacking some seal of approval.
But as time passed, it became clearer: Being a Buddhist was not entirely based on what you did and it was certainly not based entirely on what you said. You could believe your socks off, crank up the compassion voltage, or collect paradoxes without end and ... and that wasn't quite it ... so what the hell was it?
Now, of course, I don't really have an answer for all this. But I don't like playing the sloppy-seconds card that declines a label because, well, you know, labels are uh-oh. Labels are as useful or useless as no-labels, so we can let that one slide.
Even if there were an answer for all of this, I doubt that it would improve a cup of coffee. The best I can come up with is that I am a Buddhist if that's what you'd like me to be ... but sometimes not, as well.
Knowing you're a Buddhist....
Not knowing if you're a Buddhist....