PLOWE | As a Queer American Buddhist

I must reconcile my Buddhist identification with my other identities, such as my nationality, Jewish heritage and gender queerness. As a queer American Buddhist, I am a spiritual thinker before I am a religious follower. 

LEUNG | Letting Go of ‘I’

I felt like a cliché. The college grad who faces a crisis over her own personal fulfillment, so she wants to leave the country and start a life abroad — but is too scared of societal pressures and whatever conditioned ideas of success she has, so she stays. I’ve thought of these recurring thoughts and the idea that people don’t understand me, or no one knows how I feel. But the feelings of misunderstanding, isolation, longing and restlessness — they’re not new. People have felt these emotions over and over, by those who have lived hundreds of years before and those who will come after.

GOROKH | My Express Course in Enlightenment

At 4 a.m. I am woken by the harrowing sound of the gong. In a large hall separated into rooms with the use of ropes and curtains people reluctantly begin their movement. It’s 50 degrees in the room and even colder outside, and I wince at the thought of getting out. For the first time in seven days I give myself a break and stay in the warmth of my sleeping bag for another 20 minutes. Finally, I get out, put on a few layers of clothing and walk into the meditation hall, where 60 people are already sitting in complete silence with their eyes closed.