So, recently one night, I had a quiet moment in my life and spent some time reflecting back on the last six months, starting with the last weeks at my old temple, my resignation, and subsequent efforts to find a new path, new projects, etc. It’s been a more difficult transition than I thought, and I was definitely burned out and exhausted going into the holidays, but now that a few months have passed I feel a lot better about my decision.
Years ago, I switched my job from a certain online company (starts with an “A”) where I had been for 9 years. That job was a huge part of my life, and I had been there so long, that even though it was a toxic, stressful environment¹ it was familiar and I was hesitant to leave. I wanted to make it still work somehow, but after 9 years, it was enough.
Changing my job to a new company (think talking mouse) was challenging at first. I was unfamiliar with the environment, I had to relearn a lot of things, and had to start over from the bottom. I felt really stupid sometimes. But after a couple years, I am so glad I changed. My stress is much less than before, and it’s rubbed off on my family who’s a lot happier.
In the same way, I feel that way about my path with Jodo Shinshu. I liked many things about the temple community I was a part of, and even now I miss a lot of people there, but I also had lingering personal misgivings about Jodo Shinshu teachings for a long time. However, since I had already invested so much though, and I really wanted to have an opportunity to teach Buddhism in person, I still tried to make it work for a long time. But all it did was stress me out further.
Now that I’ve finally made a break with that tradition, it’s taken a while to adjust to the change in my life. After my post about the primacy of practicing Buddhism, I decided that the best way to find my path was not to read about Buddhist schools, but to try them out. I started a 28-day practice where I did some kind of Buddhist practice (chanting, meditation, etc) for 10 minutes a day.² Each day I could choose whatever I wanted, but I had to do something. Within the first week, I quickly lost interest in certain practices and settled on a personal routine that worked well for me. I am now on day 23, and have stuck with it much longer than I thought I would.
So, in the end, a change in environment was probably the right thing for me.
Losing my community and friends was difficult, rebuilding my blog was painful too, but as the dust has settled I feel I have stepped into a brave new world, and am looking forward to many more years of blogging, exploring the many facets of Buddhism, and sharing with readers and viewers on Youtube. 🙂
P.S. Double-post today. Haven’t one of those in a while.
¹ The fact that I started having gastritis attacks almost monthly was a symptom of that. These days my attacks are much less frequent partly due to improved eating habits, but also probably due to decreased stress.
² My idea was based on Dogen’s advice that all other aspects of Buddhism (sutras, chanting, etc) should be guide to and support for your practice, not an end of themselves. How I wish I had read this years ago.