Thursday, October 22, 2009
Several months back I started practicing the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I was spending some time in Los Angeles, trying to discover the golden answers, the magic bullet that would turn my burgeoning writing career into a stellar success. Here, somewhere between late breakfasts at The Brite Spot and even later nights at Insomnia, I was re-introduced to the buddhist practice of chanting the lotus sutra. I say reintroduced because my first real introduction to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was through a relationship I had been involved in many, many, many, many years earlier which had also commenced in southern California. I remember clearly, walking into my boyfriend's home and hearing some sort of monotonous, eerie yet mystical sound coming from another room. We walked into the kitchen and the sound grew louder, yet not really more distinct. I sat at the island, and watched him rifle through the refrigerator, but that sound didn't stop and I couldn't ignore it any longer. "What the hell is that?" I whispered to him when he turned around, jar in hand. "Kimchi. It's like cabbage and stuff. Fermented." He stuck chopsticks into the jar and showed me dangling cabbage. "No, not that...That! That sound!" "Oh, that's my mom." Unable to fathom that this vibrating, rhythmic sound could come from a person, I looked at him patiently and asked, maybe just the teensiest bit condescendingly, "What is she listening to?" He didn't look up from his Kimchi, which, apparently, was doing wonders satiating his kush-induced munchies, and somewhere between the sourness and the crunch, he replied, "She's not listening to anything, she's chanting." And so began my journey. Over the next thirteen years, in and out of relationships which, amazingly enough, deteriorated in quality, nam-yo (what I called it) sporadically accompanied me on airplanes and other scary situations, but that was the extent of my "practice". It wasn't until after a chapter meeting in a tiny, but pleasant apartment in Hollywood, after chanting with the most eclectic group of people I have ever sat in a living room with, after crying tears of god-knows what, after experiencing something that I could later identify only as genuine, that I realized I had come full-circle, and this was, in effect, going to be a new beginning.