Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

a belief in lists ~

Buddhism is a system of lists: the three jewels, the four noble truths, the eightfold path. And there are many more. As an inveterate list-maker, this appeals to me. It makes spiritual achievement seem, well, do-able. As if even this waffly seeker can figure it out.

I love lists. When I began to keep a journal, so many years ago my 1st son hadn’t been born yet, I called it my ‘book of lists.’ It seemed to me then, before I had made my living writing, less pretentious than saying I kept a ‘journal.’ Somehow a journal was what ‘real’ writers did…


Now? I call it whatever I’m doing in it at the moment. Drafting a poem? A writer’s working journal. Grocery list? A book of lists. Clippings of the weather where I’m traveling? A traveler’s journal. Cartoons and notes and the ephemera of my hectic life? A kind of visual journal that helps me collect, reflect on, and make sense of my life.

What the lists in Buddhism do is similar, on a grander (and much more significant!) scale. They lay out goals — things we mortals can aspire to. What a business-admin-savvy friend of mine calls a ‘stretching objective.’ They remind us of our priorities: Buddha, dharma, sangha. The Buddha, his teachings, the community. They record for us our inevitable sufferings ~ the four noble truths.

This comforts me enormously. As if the Buddha, his followers, and all the Buddhists since were aware how lists ground and sustain me. It’s kind of like a  Buddhism journal, if you think about it. With Tibetan sand mandalas for illustrations…


Previous Posts

thinking of lost boys
When I hear of the serial murder sprees -- all done w/ guns -- that plague America, I think of my sons. Not always first, but always. Probably too ...

posted 4:48:57pm Oct. 04, 2015 | read full post »

pebbles, lobsters, and priorities
I went to brunch with my beloved yesterday, to celebrate our zillionth (happy!) anniversary. It was beyond heavenly: all kinds of food I ...

posted 3:33:14pm Sep. 28, 2015 | read full post »

the souls of the others
I don't normally do book reviews, much less book raves. And yet... I just finished a book that captured me completely, Sy Montgomery's The Soul of an ...

posted 3:11:31pm Sep. 20, 2015 | read full post »

the gift of friends
I am blessed with friends far better than I deserve. Colleagues; former students; girlfriends & guy friends; family who have long since blurred that ...

posted 4:35:30pm Sep. 18, 2015 | read full post »

a bowl of weeks
Remember how I told you last week that I was trying to be more mindful of time passing? And about reading in Lewis Richmond's Aging as a Spiritual ...

posted 1:41:33pm Sep. 14, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.