So my dharma sis Jomon recently blogged about why she blogs.  This is a powerful question.  Well, as powerful as any rhetorical question can be.  It is, however, powerful enough that I too will take a crack at it.

When I started this blog a few years ago, it was mostly a place of personal (not that it's not still, but anyway) reflections.  It was a place for me to do what most writerly types do best; blather on incessantly about their own thought processes as if the world at large gave two shits and a dime.  At that time, I was a group list manager for a (in)famous soft-porn website, managing a number of discussion groups, including those on Medical Marijuana and Buddhism.  When I decided to leave that site (mostly due to boredom, but also out of mindful adherence to the precepts), a few dozen people went "Where will I be able to read your stuff at?  Whaaaa!!"  That was very flattering, and as a writer, I'm all about being flattered.  So I decided to start concentrating on writing here again.

Well, I quickly found out that the world--in point of fact--didn't really give any number or manner of defecations, stools, or bowel utterances of any kind, let alone cold hard cash! (I wish!  Talk about mad skillz!)  Anyway, a few old friends kept looking in on me (shout out to Nix & Tommy.  Peace, mates) but for the most part, I was writing to myself.  This really could be done with a spiral notebook and a biro, and as life was at that time really hitting a patch of snot, the whole thing went cold for a while.

But the snot was rather persistent.  It didn't get washed away very quickly, and I found myself very alone and very adrift in my life.  My marriage was ending.  I was having to let go of nearly everything I'd grown accustomed to and "loved"; people, places, things.  It was really hard, and very scary.

You'd think I'd have started writing about it.

I started writing about my practice.

I am not a lawyer.  I am not a doctor.  I do no play either on TV.

At roughly this time last year, I was in such a jam that I really didn't know what in the hell to do.  I was broker than broke (no real change there), needing to strike out on my own for really the first time in my life, while at the same time try and help my daughter get clean and sober from a horrid addiction.  I had vastly more obligations than resources, vastly less ability than fear, and a complete and utter need to get the job done.  To say that it was sink-or-swim does not bring enough gravity to the feelings that I had about the circumstance.

So I came up with the idea that I'd pitch it all and go live at the monastery.  Pursue zen full-time.  Maybe work towards ordination.  The rent was cheap and the food was good.  I put in my paperwork and was being considered.  Keep in mind that at this point in time, I was seriously considering living in my truck camper.

Well, my roshi took me aside and expressed some concerns over my brilliant plan.  I was a bit put off by this (and still sort-of am, but that's another blog entirely), but after going on retreat in March of 2009, I came back knowing that I wasn't--in fact--ready for a life of blue jumpers and 5am zazen.


So I started writing about it instead.

That's not wholly accurate.

I started trying to live it here instead.

And I write about it here as I do.

More people seem interested now.

And so here's the nut.

There are piles of blogs and websites just like this.  All sorts of us Western folks trudging through this Buddhism stuff, trying to make heads or tails of this amorphous weird blob that is "existence" and all the metaphysical ramifications thereof.  It is deeply personal, and very very hard to communicate to those people who aren't doing it as well.

So why spend time writing about it, of all things?  If it's so inherently unexplainable and inexpressible, then why try?

Well, for me, there's a sort-of cohort aspect to it.  There's a new generation of folks coming to Buddhism now.  The X'ers and Y'ers are here, and they own these-here 'tubes.  Not that there aren't many in generations before ours that don't have their digital say (word to the Dalai Grandma!) but by-and-large, it's a time of newness and growth in world Buddhist consciousness, and even moreso for Buddhism in America.  It's encouraging and exciting, and I'm pleased and honored to be surfing this wave with so many folx.

But I think the thing most important to me about why I spend time blogging my tales of the inexpressible--and reading those of others--is that it feels good and helpful to attempt to share how this practice makes me feel, and what it is manifesting in my life.  Admittedly, this is like trying to express why a poem moves you, or a melody sticks in your head.  But those two examples get their share.  I guess my Buddhist blather should be right up there as well.

Just like a weight-loss blog, a recovery journal on-line or a gardening forum, people find it helpful to hear news from those going through it as well.  It's a way to feel less alone in a struggle, more connected to a group, and less isolated in your own head.  I value this a great deal.  I may love and rest in the Dharma, but it's a right-royal beeatch of a slog at times.

Now, with regards to those who find it useful to read such things, and the criticism that it really only interests other practitioners...

Well, duh.

Buddhist geeks are a thousand rupie a dozen.  We tend to gravitate to each-other like all good geeks do.  We just geek about something that's really hard to express (which too, is a mark of a geek or geekly thing), but like that Justice Potter Stewart oldie-but-goodie;

"I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["good Dharma blogs" -ed]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..."

— Justice Potter Stewart, concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964) Emp. Add

It's sorta like the first day of high-school when you're trying to find a lunch-table to sit at.  You don't really do so with your eyes.  You do it by listening to conversations, and sitting close enough to be able to interject some little tidbit into the discussion to establish affiliation and credibility.  But more than anything, you do it because you feel compelled to discuss this geeky thing you feel so passionate about.

Being passionate about a Buddhist practice sounds a bit antithetical, and on a few levels it is, I suppose.  But I know that I am a happier person because of my practice.  I know that I handle life much differently than I did a year ago, or two years ago, and that's only for the good.  I know that the way I interact with people, including my family and loved-ones, has changed a great deal because of this "practice", again for the good.  What's funny is that, on the one hand, I could give two shits and a dime (again with that, wth?) about what anybody thinks about my practice or my life, but on the other hand, I feel a responsibility to talk about these things.  It finally occurred to me why that may be.

I have taken a vow (a number of times, actually, and will again many times) to aid everyone who needs help, in any way asked of me.  Having the ability to help, or even the volition to attempt to help, put an onus on me to do so, or else I would be willingly withholding aid.  If all I really have at this point in my life is the willingness to ramble on about this practice of mine, and the energy to do it, then not doing so is inherently wrong action.  I look at this as part of my whole practice, and no part is more or less important than any other part.  And just as pursuing this practice with as much energy and attention as I can muster is important to the overall health and well-being of the Dharma, so too are my weak and impotent attempts at communicating back what I find.
Beings are numberless: I vow to talk to them.
Illusions are inexhaustible: I vow to pooh-pooh them.
Dharma gates are boundless: I vow to post pix on Facebook.
The Buddha way is unsurpassable: I vow to blog about it.

We are Buddhist geeks, and we are not alone.

P.S., give Buddhist Geeks some of your rupees plz.  KTHXBI.