December 5, 2002, Downtown Montreal:
We were lost. She pulled me into a bookstore, the first store I am actually a somewhat interested in entering. We did not have bookstores like this in Cornwall: ones that were somehow cool. A tiny book bearing the picture of the Dalai Lama caught my eye. I can actually finish this book, I thought. I wanted to know what he knew, smiling on the cover, the wisdom that made him so happy.
I brought the book to checkout and the dreadlocked cashier was practically elated. He invited me to come to a meditation class and explained all the other Buddhist stuff he was involved in. I just put my toe in the water and already someone wanted me to jump in. Not yet. I just want a little wisdom, and I would look stupid in dreadlocks anyhow. It was going to take some time for me to step foot in a Buddhist temple.
December 20, 2012, Ottawa:
It was hours before the end of the world, according to the Mayans. This might be my last chance to visit Joyful Land Buddhist Centre. Inside, it smelled like Glade, not incense; it was lit with halogen bulbs, not candles; they use a stereo, not a gong, and that nigh
t’s teacher was a dude in plaid, not a robe.
The rest of the world was still moving out on Somerset Street, as we strangers sat together meditating. This awkwardness was not sufficient to stop me from making the most beginner mistake of getting sleepy. The night’s topic was dreams and the nature of reality.
The meditation leader spoke: “Only a Buddha is fully awakened, but the rest of us live in a constant dream-like state filled with delusion.” This claim opened a discussion about the distinction between dreams and reality. This discussion flowed inevitably into the topic of the end of the world and the Mayan calendar.
When asked about this, the meditation leader paused, before giving his take: “The end of the world could be the end of a dream.” This explanation made me feel as though I might already be in a dream. I realized how weird things can get when you just stop for an hour. With this, my curiosity was piqued to take more “stops” at other Ottawa Buddhist centres.
Michael is a misplaced Trent Business Administration grad exploring Buddhism. He has recently traded in a career in accounting for a student card and a student budget. His other interests include: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Graphic Design. In this blog he will explore the bizarre and the profound at various Buddhist temples in Ottawa.