Sometimes I think that Buddhism is like walking through a door in the desert or a door on the beach. On this side of the door there are endless miles of hot sand or blue waters. On that side of the door are endless miles of hot sand or blue waters. Buddhism is the door to the same panorama that existed before anyone mentioned something called "Buddhism."
And yet the willingness to walk through the door changes everything. Nothing changes, but everything is changed.
This morning I had one of those out-of-the-blue emails from a woman testing the door handle. There were sea changes in her life, she said, and she was interested in the possibilities that Buddhism might offer. Where and how should she, could she, begin?
I wrote back the usual stuff ... read some books, go to some lectures, and ask lots and lots of questions. Find out if any of it speaks to the situation that currently exists. Snoop the terrain. Examine the door as best anyone might. And then, if any of it seems plausible or useful, open the door and walk through. Give it a try.
How hard things may seem after opening the door. Gawd! On this side, things may be confusing and full of regret or uncertainty. On the other side, at least at first, everything seems to get worse since now the confusions and uncertainties are tinted by an additional something called "Buddhism." The discipline swirls and natters like a hoard of bees. Yes, there are consoling nostrums to ingest or try to digest, but the particulars seem endless and ... well, when will things get better, for Christ's sake?!
Through the door that leads from here to here and back again... it takes some nerve, it takes some patience, it takes some diligence, it takes, perhaps, a dollop of insanity.
How god-awful hard. And yet without walking through some door, some "entrance" that is marked "exit" on the other side, how can the uncertainties and regrets be stilled?
For a door that goes no where, it sure is a sticky wicket.
I don't recommend it, but it sure is the best way I know.