Archived entries for Buddhism

is there a buddhist in the house?!?

“Would you like to have spiritual care?”

The question scared me. The nurse had been casually going through various pre-op necessities, taking my blood pressure and checking my pulse and asking if I were allergic to latex. My impending translaminar foraminectomy was classified as elective surgery. “Spiritual care” sounded like “last rites” to me. Had I missed something in the surgeon’s office?

I discovered that the Methodist Hospital of Houston simply and charitably provides any spiritual presence for any patient who wants it. After quickly confessing that I was a Buddhist and then blithely announcing that, nah, I didn’t need any help, a tangle of unthought thoughts hit my head like sticky spiritual cobwebs.

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the golden wow

I begged my most Christian collegiate compadre to buy me condoms. Oh, the things a fledgling proselytizer doesn’t imagine they’ll be called to do. But, after two shocked eyebrows and one sigh of resignation as I bolted out of her post-collegiate apartment door for a date — and an impending affair — that I hadn’t thought I’d be having, I did find a dainty box of Trojans under her guest bathroom sink late that night, exactly where I’d asked her to leave them. Ecumenical, indeed.

In 1989, my one goal in life was to be somewhere else than I presently was and, by obvious implication, someone else than I presently was. But, blessedly, my running was just beginning to be less about running away and more about running, jumping and playing. My seminal trip to the Himalaya two years before had shown me just how big the world really is and had converted me in ways that at that point I had no name for. I see now that I had been converted to Curious.

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no string attached

“I think it’s like a prayer.”

My then seven-year-old had answered her own question more exquisitely than I ever could have. I had managed to keep my didactic mouth shut and allow her to answer it for herself. Two quiet miracles in one quiet moment while a mother was at home with her child.

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dreamy buddhist woman seeks

“I meet the woman of my dreams and she’s a Buddhist?!?”

Happy Valentine’s Day indeed. The man who spoke these words to me five years ago was actually born on February 14th. We were on our first veryofficialnicerestaurant date. We were very drawn to each other. To say that we had chemistry is serious understatement. To say that I should have just punted when he said the above is serious rationality. But, that is like saying we should all live perfectly balanced lives, spiritually unfolding like elegant slow-motion blossoms drenched in dewy sunlight while mystical didgeridoo music envelops us. Meanwhile, back in my actual life…

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sit. stay. then walk the dogs

A request from the audience! To discuss meditation a bit more, particularly my comment about meditating while walking my dogs. A disclaimer! Meditation is not my forte, I am in no way a teacher of it, and let’s just say you get what you pay for here. A gift! From a dear friend this week, who opened my eyes to religious historian Mircea Eliade’s distinction between sacred and profane time, which will really help us here today.

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horizontal God

I lay next to God all day yesterday. Her name is actually Kyrie. Which does mean God, in Greek. She is my younger daughter. So, ok, yeah, not that God. Still, she is as much a spark of the divine fire, as much an illimitable moment of immanent God, as the rest of us.

She was sick. Very feverish. And already, at just twelve years old, she told me the night before, “I’m fine, really. I can go to school. I need to. I’ve got two tests!” Is all of this drive, this hustle, this pressure in our lives immanent in us as well?

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to each their l)a own

“Mom, what’s your favorite poem?” Larkin asked this question dutifully, though with a slight whiff of resignation as well. My daughter’s 6th grade English teacher had assigned them the task of asking their parents this, and of bringing it in. She knew, though her teacher did not, just how much she was getting into. I am into poetry the way her friends are into pop stars. Books of poetry litter nearly every surface in our home. I carry at least three poems in my wallet at any given time, where the “big” bills should go, because I consider poetry to be the most valuable of currency. But, the kid in front of me was only twelve. She had two tests to study for. I figured, “Go easy on the kid!” And, I was thrilled that only one poem was coming to mind anyway, a really really short one.

“Sure, Honey! It’s an E. E. Cummings poem, and it only has four words! Here, let me show you!” With endearing stoicism, she followed me to my office. I found the poem and printed it out in large font:

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feel the felt, uncool the cool

And sometimes enlightenment just shows up on our doorstep.

Usually small, often lumpy or a little misshapen, very sweet and invariably a bit uncool, and almost always soft because of its many iterations through many hands and many hearts. Think Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Or that new little soul on the block who reallyreallyreally wants to be friends. Or, in my case, a sacred splat of felt.

My dogs barked. A new friend, unheard by my unhearing ears, departed. And I stayed at my computer, because I am writingwritingwritingwriting about my spiritual path, which I am realizing is my diffident way of admitting that I am seeking enlightenment…. which just sounds so presumptuous, doesn’t it?

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cloudy with a chance of enlightenment

I had a dream I was in bed with the Dalai Lama. Not that kind of in bed. More like a cheerful slumber party, with a feeling of being very young, lighthearted and happy and just having fun together. We were giggling and bantering, playfully pulling fistfuls of a soft orange blanket up and under our chins. Then, I realized that his pet octopus was with us, languidly relaxing on my pillow just behind and over my head. It was starting to drape puckery tentacles over one ear, toward my face and around my neck. I stopped giggling.

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target moving or moving target

“But, why?” When you are doing something that just lights you up and a new employee of Morgan Stanley asks this question, be peaceful in the faith and conviction that you are moving in a good direction.

I was effusively showing my old college buddy recent graphic studies and sketches I had been making based upon the incredible mathematical ratio known as the Golden Section. It is also called the Divine Proportion, and my introduction to it in a somewhat dusty, pedantic and oh-so-British tome from 1914 entitled The Curves of Life was my first glimpse into God in All Things. One of those old Royal Society types, Theodore Andrea Cook, had spent twenty years documenting how this mystical proportion and its concomitant spiral growth patterns underlie every form in nature. Leaves spiral around branches at the exact same ratio as sunflower seeds whirling in their meditative circles. Our own hearts beat with a rhythm proportionally the same as the spiral of every shell and the branching of every tree. I had been happily going pretty much nuts over all of this, throwing curves with my old compass and protractor on voluminous scraps of paper and then throwing paint and other messy marks on top. Sure, I was trying to make beautiful things. But, I realize now that what I was really doing was learning to be reverent in the presence of beauty, and learning that beauty is everywhere. My good friend admitted that it was all sort of cool, but really just wanted to know, “What are you trying to accomplish with this?”

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