Here’s a guest post from Bonsai Doug about this messy process of working out our own salvation.
The term “footedness” refers to a preference to put one’s left or right foot forward in the various board-sports like surfing, or skateboarding – a “regular stance” if you will. The opposite of this regular stance is often referred to as “goofy-foot.”
I often feel I’m traveling my personal Buddhist path a bit goofy-footed. Let me try to explain.
I live in a small, rural area of western New York. There is no temple or sangha to help me on my path. So, I rely heavily on my library (I devour books!) and my online community to be my sangha. While this sometimes makes for a bumpy path, it also makes for one rich in all the varied and wonderful traditions of Buddhism.
I have two bodhi seed malas which I love. But I know I’m not using them quite as intended. Meditation (no secret here) is challenging. So when concentrating on breaths, I often use a mala to count those breaths, and to keep my mind as focused as possible. The result is that I do not sit quite as “still” as recommended, but it seems to work for me. It has made meditation something I very much look forward to. I know the mala is used in the counting of mantra and prostrations, so I guess my approach here too is a bit goofy-footed. Or perhaps I should coin a new phrase… “goofy-handed?”
My goofy-footed approach, however, has resulted in many great stops along the way. Friends made while in Korea. Gary Gach, the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Buddhism.” Lunch with the monks of Wat Mongkolratanaram. A personal tour of the Byodo-In temple in Hawaii. Being present when the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace arrived at the Minh Dang Quang Temple in Florida. And of course, discovering “Wake Up and Laugh.”
I sincerely hope my goofy-footed approach proves fruitful. I do know I am the better for it. I’ve never been happier and more at peace with myself and those around me. I am far more caring, loving and compassionate than ever before. Walking my path, albeit goofy-footed, is providing for a wonderful journey.
And whenever I become a bit discouraged with my goofy-footed journey, I remind myself of a quote from His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
We all travel our own path to enlightenment.
And just because someone is not following on our path, it does not mean they are lost.
Namaste, and be well!
5 thoughts on “The Goofy-footed Buddhist”
I appreciate the honesty and clarity of this post. Each of us has our condition and situation. These are neither good nor bad in themselves – they’re just life itself. And we can only work with what we have. Better to do that than get tangled up in wanting different conditions and situations.
Great to see such a wonderful first post from you here Doug! Thank you!
As an aside, I once tried counting breaths with my mala but I also set my timer for fifteen minutes (as I usually do) too. Imagine my surprise when I got to the last (of 108) beads at the EXACT same time as the bell sounded! I almost jumped out of my skin!
That aside, I did find it really helped with concentrating on each breath and, after reading your post, I’m inspired to give it another try some time again.
Marcus – a member of my cyber-sangha recently introduced me to Tonglen meditation. I find, even though the action remains the same (breath counting), my concentration is held much more focused on Tonglen when using my mala.
As an aside… I’ve yet to find a timer that hasn’t “shocked” me out of meditation. ॐ
Hi Bonsai Doug! This was a great post for me because I feel a bit the same! I am much more goofy-footed myself – and my sanga is my online peeps as well. You might like to join us at the Online Meditation Crew? It’s international (maybe you are already in the group?) and I have found myself more connected with people in other countries than I could have imagined! http://onlinemeditationcrew.blogspot.com/
I found a good timer that you can download as an mp3 – which is good for me because sometimes I am on the train and want to meditate. You can get it here: http://www.treeleaf.org/ It has nice gong sounds rather than an alarm, which I like.
Anyway I was genuinely pleased to read your post and to hear from a fellow traveller! I hope we hear from you again!
Thanks for the great post, Doug!
And , by the way, I love the little om!
I never would have thought about finding that~