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  • In the mountains near San Diego, in a town called Escondido, recognized more for its motor homes and beer can filled yards than spirituality, there is a Buddhist monastery that sits on acres of gorgeous, peaceful, quiet land. I went there for a week 2 autumns ago. I went expecting camp or a resort or a spa or something it wasn't. I expected to go there and figure out my problems and life's direction in a week's time. But the point of the Buddhist life is to quiet your mind, not to engage it. And I learned quickly, amongst the monastics--teams of soft-spoken, joyous, Vietnamese, monks and nuns with shaved heads and brown robes--that I walked too quickly, I talked too quickly, my mind had so much stillness it needed to explore.

    On my last morning at the monastery, a nun whom I admired for the peace about her and her intelligence and whom I respected, no doubt, because she had been a doctor before she'd chosen this life and that secular worldliness validated her monastic vows for me--proved to me that if she had studied science and opted still for a celibate, serious, simple life, then perhaps there was something to it. She found me walking--too quickly as usual--and she put her hand on my shoulder. And we walked together--at her pace. And she told me that I was her sister and I would be welcome back, always. And I am not certain why, but I cried.

    "People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar." - Thich-Nhat-Hanh
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