Several Educations on Introspection

After absorbing this dharma talk: Kim Allen, “Resolve”

It makes me sad that I never learned useful techniques for introspection until I encountered Buddhism. Where was my civilization when I needed it?

I’m getting to be a pretty religious Jewish person by now. That tradition teaches me where I’m coming from generation by generation. But I haven’t learned from it where I’m coming from moment by moment.

The secular school in which I grew up was remarkable, and it did at least teach emotional reflection. By now, for all I know, they teach meditation there. But they didn't in the '90s. Paideia taught me to see my feelings, but it didn't teach me to feel them.

When my teachers asked me to share how I felt, all I knew how to do was explain what I thought. I didn’t know my feelings arose inside my body or had sensations attached to them. I didn’t know that these inward states sang with information about my nature and could tell me whether I was aligned with it or not. I just felt things wildly and muddled through.

I encountered Buddhism at a Western university, and I’m endlessly grateful for that. But by then, I had 20 years of cobwebs to clear out. I’m 26 now, and I feel like I’m just learning to walk.

When I listen to Buddhist teachers, it’s like looking into a mirror for the first time in my life. When I sit, it’s like meeting myself. And on days like today, when I get up from sitting, I wonder, “Why have I never met myself before?”

I mourn for the moments of wholeness I’ve missed so far in my life. But I don’t regret missing them. The sadness of this missed opportunity strengthens my resolve to heal our civilization. That’s where I’m coming from.