One of the best parts of doing what I do is getting letters from people who've been helped by the books and teachings. They always make me feel renewed gratitude to the teachers who've shared liberating knowledge with me, and to all the friends near and far who bring that knowledge to life by putting it into practice. Here are a few letters, in the hope that they'll encourage you on your path.
New letters are added from time to time. If you have experiences or reflections you'd like to share, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you …
'Your book was made for a guy like me.'
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the literary-enlightenment feast that is The Dharma Bum’s Guide to Western Literature. I am on my second reading of the book, this time culling “pointing-out” instructions of a deep and generous nature, which go down soulfully as they are interwoven with some of the sweetest literary appreciations I've ever read. As a student of the Dharma and a lifelong passionate lover of literature, your book was made for a guy like me.
Dare I point out favorite chapters? William Blake, Virginia Woolf, Thoreau and Emerson, Emily Dickinson, and two of my favorites: Samuel Beckett and J.D. Salinger. The literary illuminations (a better word than “appreciations” or analysis to describe how I experience this facet of your amazing book) are so rich in biographical vignettes, rendered with love and enlightened humor, while what I'll call the dharmic passages, taken as a whole, really constitute a set of instructions or beckonings to enter the stream of meditation practice. It all blends together so seamlessly, with a gentle beauty, till one realizes that one is standing in the infinite light, the book having served as a reliable portal to the luminous and numinous.
'How different my experience in high school English might have been ... '
'I'm 84 years old ... '
Thank you for writing The Zen Commandments. I have read, and own, many books on Buddhism and “spirituality” and I am indeed grateful to many writers of them — especially Eknath Easwaran and Pema Chodron and Byron Katie and Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Thoreau, Whitman, Rumi, Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hahn, etc. But your book stands out as being so human, warm, encouraging, interesting — it is a true jewel in the lotus! I am going to find your other books also. Thanks! Yours is a book I will be rereading many times. I’m 84 years old but not too old to begin to experience what it means to have a heart as well as a mind.
'Today is day one.'
I read The Zen Commandments years ago and re-read from time to time. Last summer I bought a copy for my wife and both of my adult children. I gave it to them for Christmas. My daughter, a wonderful elementary school teacher, suggested we do a father/daughter book club. Today is day one.
'I am really struggling with obsessive thoughts. '
'I'm a lifelong asthmatic … '
'My 16-year-old son was diagnosed with lymphoma … '
'I was able to start breathing better … '
Checking in since it has been a very long time. Just want to express my gratitude for your teaching.
I recently had surgery to remove a facial melanoma and was given way too much fentanyl. l was struggling to breathe in the recovery room, and my wife put the cell phone near me with your Meditation #1 from Fear Less. We have listened to this together many times. I was able start breathing better and get the hell out of there before anything else happened.
I think of you often, with great intentions to go to the Tuesday night sangha, but alas, the neuromuscular boogie-woogie continues and makes it hard to get around safely. ... Anyway, I'm grateful for having excellent medical care, and for your efforts to use the internet, including your YouTubes of the Tuesday sessions.
'I was meditating because our Twelve Step program says we should. But … '
'The impact has amazed me.'
I bought your book Fear Less after watching your Batgap interview (I’m on chapter 11).
I want to thank you for making available such a generous offering of resources on your website. I have listened to (and now purchased) Just Being, and also the Rest as Awareness album. That made me think how good it would be to be able to join you on a Tuesday night in Santa Monica. Then, exploring your website yesterday, I discovered you have started streaming your sessions. How wonderful to watch from where I live in central Spain!
I was deeply moved, so grateful to watch from start to end, sitting there in the silence with you all, feeling like I actually was a part of the group in your home. And the questions and answers resonated strongly with me. So I want to thank you from the depths of my heart for making it possible for me to be there, and would you please convey my grateful thanks also to the people attending, who are open to the filming of the sessions and the sharing online of their questions. It is a huge gift for me.
I have spent quite a few years now engaging in effortful meditation from different angles, with little satisfaction, although in recent months it had become less of an effort and more of a welcome space of peace. The impact of the Just Being tracks has amazed me. With your words and silence I do indeed drop into and rest in that welcome spaciousness. I don’t know why something so simple is easy to do with your accompaniment and seemingly not so easy without it.
So thank you again.
With warm regards and much appreciation …
'Your books have made it clear that any time is enough.'
I have read and enjoyed all of your books and can't put the latest one down. I just wanted to thank you for making something like meditation so accessible. As a father of four, I barely have time to meditate, but your books have made it clear that any time is enough.
I also appreciate that you have made all traditions accessible. Its easy to get married to one path but again you make it clear that freedom is the goal
Thanks so much …
'I recommended it to my ex … '
To be honest, my entire meditation journey is due to the fact that I had a very rough and tumultuous break-up. So, in many ways, you helped free me from that bind that I had with my ex and my own thoughts/suffering/what have you. I actually found such comfort in your book that I recommended it to my ex, and he said he bought it and he'll start reading it shortly. Sometimes things really change you for the better and you want to share them with the entire world — even with people who have hurt you.
You'll be pleased to know that I'm still loving meditation just as much as I loved it when I saw you last month.
My meditation sessions are still delicious. My anxiety has decreased substantially. And I just remind myself that everyone is doing their own thing, let tomorrow worry about itself, and just be cool.