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?


Cheryl Shainmark is a writer, editor, and certified hypnotherapist with a private practice in New York. A long time contributor of articles and book reviews, Cheryl is now a senior editor and a regular columnist at Merlian News. When she is not reading, reviewing, or dreaming about books she can be found playing with cats of all stripes at her quiet country retreat.

by Cheryl Shainmark