The new car effect / the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon / Buddha is everywhere

A draped Buddha at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

A draped Buddha at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I equate what is happening in my life right now to the ‘new car effect’. You know, you buy a new car, and suddenly it seems like everyone is driving it. Some call it the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or refer to it as synchronicity, but I only noticed it after I got my car. And now, it’s happening again…with the monks!

Let’s go back to the start:  when I was in Cambodia this summer, I stayed at the Siem Reap Hostel – a truly great place to stay! Every morning I would wake up to chanting and bells because the hostel backed on to this Buddhist temple.  It was the near perfect way to wake up. Even after I left Cambodia that was one of my best memories.

Buddhist temple in Siem Reap

The Buddhist temple that my room overlooked in Siem Reap

When I got back to Toronto, every book I picked up seemed to refer to Buddhism: a monk here (A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki); a lotus flower there. Then I noticed that there is a massive Dharma Centre right around the corner from my house. And yesterday, I was taking the subway home, reading Anne Donovan’s Buddha Da, and when I got off the train I nearly collided with not one but TWO Buddhist monks.

IT’S A SIGN!

Or maybe it isn’t, but Buddhism keeps making an appearance in my daily life. So, should I take it as a sign? See, I know very little about Buddhism; in fact, I know very little about organized religion on any level. Still, the more I read and learn and talk to people (especially people from other cultures and places) I’m starting to think that maybe I need to invest more effort into creating a spiritual existence for myself. Is that a sign of age? An awareness of my own mortality?

I don’t know, but it’s a scary thought – not death, but choosing something. Whenever you announce yourself as a follower of any ism, people get freaked out. Suddenly you’re not invited for drinks, or no one ‘understands’ you any more. I mean, that’s exactly what happens to Jimmy in Buddha Da. His whole family begins to wonder WHO the meditative freak is that took their real da (Scottish version of dad) hostage. Even he knows he’s different. And I have the terrible suspicion that he will never be able to reconcile the old him and the new one. And that seems to be a steep price to pay for enlightenment.

Here is the letter (what you're reading now) for Buddha Da.

Here is the letter (what you’re reading now) for Buddha Da.

But alas, fiction is not the real world, and maybe there is a place for me in Buddhism. Where do you start? For me, it’s always the library.

If you have any recommendations of good books about Buddhism, I’d love to hear!

Libby

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