I think everyone in my family would admit that I’m different than they are. I did things they wouldn’t do. I ran off to Europe by myself and hitchhiked around France. I got an apartment a few blocks from Wrigley Field. Just last fall, I drove by myself to North Carolina to stay on an organic farm, in a tent, and learn about Chinese herbs. I love these people, but they don’t totally get me.

Buddhism has a concept called sangha: a group of spiritual practitioners who are supposed to help and support one another and discuss things so they can learn. Truth is, this group can be as dysfunctional as any blood relations. But at this time (1990) I felt I had found a sort of family–or at least, people who “got” me. These were the days when we had regular visits from Rimpoche, who would teach the Lam Rim (Stages on the Path). I wrote:

“Last night was a wonderful night. I felt right at home in the circle of friends at Rochelle’s house. You could feel the energy change as the senior people came in. You could feel the energy get stronger. And then the voices got stronger. And then Rimpoche being there on the couch was like a great anchor, a great source of strength, over there to the side.

“To feel that you were on the same wavelength with everyone in the room, and not only that, but that people liked you and admired you and appreciated your work and your efforts–oh, that was wonderful. A warm green feeling.

“[My problems] were off in the background for a while, and they were now a manageable size. I am trying to flow with the world and make everything a single lowing process of meditation from one thing to another all moving together, all one great exchange, one great meditation, one great source of learning and wisdom, one great opportunity to help others and teach others and also to sing the praises of God or Buddha or whatever. All one flowing process. It is so wonderful how it has worked, and how I am beginning to realize consciously what I seem to have known all along intuitively.”

That last point is critical: I was able to live out things I had known all along. I wasn’t learning them for the first time. I have been here before. That’s what has kept me with this for so long.

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