The Buddhist Soul in Me

I am many things, but I am not a Buddhist. Still, every so often the secret Buddhist in my soul demands to be fed: lighting a little incense, placing a flower in a bowl like an offering, sweeping a spider out the door (instead of squishing it), or taking a day trip to the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, NY.

As Yogi Bera famously said, “It’s like deja vu all over again.” I go to the Monastery and something in my heart sighs, “Ahhhhhh.” I feel like I have returned home and, despite the constant chaos of ongoing construction, it is as if the temple has been there a thousand years. My soul feels old in the most wonderful way, and I feel a connection to every Buddhist who has ever lived and to all my possible Buddhist past lives.

I meditate in the grand room with 10,000 Buddhas, I go through the gift shop and fortify myself with more incense for the months long drought til the next time I can visit, and I lament the lack of a vegetarian meal from the cafeteria that has never been open in all the times I’ve been there. Still, I am satisfied. I walk the muddy loop of pathway that has been incompletely paved for the last seven years, past the beautiful statue of Chuang Yen, and I breathe in the scent of flowers as I watch the birds fly over the pond. And the Buddhist in my soul knows it is perfect.

This article originally posted September 2018.

See also: Have You Seen the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas in Montana?


Are We There Yet?

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Ok, I have to say it: I’ve about had it with this whole pandemic thing. This week will mark five months since we went into lock down, and, for me at least, this whole “hunkering down” zeitgeist is getting old. Lately, it seems the extended sleep-over, roughing it at camp, take one for the team mood has gotten depressing. I miss the early lock down days, when we could distract ourselves with laying in dried beans, hoarding toilet paper, or judging our colleague’s home work space on Zoom conferences. Even the threat of murder hornets provided a good laugh, in a what next? sort of way.

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Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age

| by Cheryl Shainmark

In his new book Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age Feiler notes that the idea that we’ll have one job, one relationship, one source of happiness for most of our lives is outdated, and that we now live in a non-linear world that forces us to make transitions. While this trend has been occurring for some time, what is new right now is that the whole world is going through these transitions at once. How we face these life altering changes, and what tools we can use to help the process these events is at the core of this book.

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For the Common Good

| by Cheryl Shainmark

What is the common good? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy say that the common good “refers to those facilities—whether material, cultural or institutional—that the members of a community provide to all members in order to fulfill a relational obligation they all have to care for certain interests that they have in common.” Put more simply, it is whatever is for the benefit or interests of all.

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Tell Me A Story: Stirring Up Cellular Memories with Meditation

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I have been meditating for over twenty years now and find it an essential part of my life. Many have written about the substantial physical and emotional benefits, and while I’ve certainly found that to be the case, too, I’ve also noticed that there is a component of releasing “cellular memories” that is rarely addressed. People shy away from phenomena that are not so easily explained, but whether you call it “cellular memories,” “past lives,” or releasing “old patterns,” I have found that there is something extraordinary happening that also brings welcome relief to the body and the spirit.

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The Booming Market for Meat Alternatives

| by Cheryl Shainmark

White Castle and Fat Burger now feature Impossible Burgers, Del Taco has Beyond Meat on the menu, and Burger King is about to roll out a Beyond Meat Whopper. Hard Rock Cafes in Europe carry a veggie burger now, (though you’d have to skip the cheese to make it a vegan meal), and they expect to offer it in their US locations next year. As Phil Shainmark, our columnist for The Unlikely Vegan noted recently, “It’s quite possibly the best time to be a Vegan. There are so many amazing choices and places to go.” Even if you’re not a vegan or a fast food fan, the variety of meat alternatives is great news as many grocery stores and regular restaurants have also added plant based options to meet growing customer demand. According to Market Insider, the $14 billion dollar meat alternative industry is expected to grow to $140 billion over the next decade.

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A Different Kind of Earth Day by Cheryl Shainmark

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Stay at home, shelter in place, practice social distancing. Earth Day this year is Wednesday, April 22, and for the first time in 50 years, there will be no parades, no gatherings to plant trees, no groups picking up litter on the beach

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Shades of Love in the Time of Cholera

| by Cheryl Shainmark

These are strange times we are living in. In the last few weeks since Covid 19 has escalated from dominating the news cycle to directly impacting our lives, I keep hearing that phrase over and over. And while the news has focused on number of deaths, the lack of a cohesive Federal response, school closings, and potential loss of income, nobody seems to be focusing on the effect the Corona virus has had on love and dating.

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The Seeds of Our Dreams

| by Cheryl Shainmark

For the smallest month on the calendar, February looms large in my mind. It is, on the East Coast anyway, the deepest, darkest, bitterest part of winter. The Scandinavian side of me, wise to seasonal depression long before there was a named disorder for it, wants to stay in and drink glogg and distract myself from putting my head in the oven. I count down the days until pitchers and catchers report, so I can imagine them playing on warm green fields in spring training. I plan trips to deserts or beaches or anyplace more equatorial than New York…

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How to Help Australia Right Now

| by Cheryl Shainmark

If you’re like me, your heart has been breaking over the wave of images coming from fire stricken Australia: the burning homes, the loss of life, the destruction of habitat affecting millions of animals, and finally, the disturbing peril of the animals themselves. While the death toll for humans is 25 at this time,  estimates place the loss of animal life at over half a million victims. As reported on PBS, thousands of Australians are in need of assistance as massive wildfires continue to tear across the continent.

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