Indestructible Truth

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Barbara*, 1939-

“With insight meditation, all the stuff you ignored all your life, all of a sudden you realize what it is about. They call this meditation vipassana, which means insight, and you do get insight.”

I am a nun, I have lived in monasteries. I left the monastery, but still wear my robe every day. The definition of Buddhism as a nontheistic religion made me an instant believer. It spoke to me, and I pursued it to ordination. In the monastery I learned to meditate, and through it, understand my life. When you meditate, you get a little bit more insight about what this world is about. This is an amazing and complex realm that we are in, and we probably see very little of it. And I also learned about my own story through meditation. Many others, who don’t meditate, don’t even know their own story.

With insight meditation, all the stuff you ignored all your life, all of a sudden you realize, ‘oh, that’s what it is about!’ They call this meditation vipassana, which means insight, and you do get insights. The truth leaves evidence behind, details to put together. My mother’s life is a good example of this idea. It took me years to get it: mommy had a kid before she got married, probably in high school.

There is a Buddhist book called Indestructible Truth. What a title! If I write a book about my life, I’d want to call it The Truth Leaves Evidence.

Listen to interview snippets:


[* She asked to use a pseudonym, without photos]

 

Feng-Shui’d!

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Barbara*, 1939-

“Everything on that corner does not block energy, or bounces it back, or something!”

I’ll tell you a secret*, but do not tell anyone about this location, it may disappear my place. The corner of Elm St. and Shaler Lane used to be ordinary, all the other buildings are at a right angle. But one day they started working there, and a brand new corner emerged.

They rounded that corner, even the faceted glass is round now! That must have been excessively expensive to build it that way. It has since been my most successful corner. At first, I thought it was a coincidence, but no. You do make money on that corner! It’s just what that Chinese lady said, ‘They feng-shui’d the corner!’ It was the most boring looking corner, and I’m just raking it in. Everything on that corner does not block energy, or bounces it back, or something!

Listen to interview snippets:



[* She asked to use a pseudonym, without photos. Street names are also fictive, as promised.]

 

Ruined, not Spoiled

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Barbara*, 1939-

“My most blessed treasure is figuring out the difference between spoiled and ruined; it totally changed my life. . . I am not spoiled, I am ruined.”

“You are spoiled,” they would say. “That’s your problem, sss-poiled!

I was labeled by my family as spoiled. My most blessed treasure is figuring out the difference between spoiled and ruined; it totally changed my life. I was 50 years old before I figured it out. It took five months of meditation, day and night, two hours meditate, two hours off. It cast a shadow on my entire life, and you never quite get over this. I am not spoiled, I am ruined. What a realization! These are two very different identities, you know.

Growing up, I was a wreck. Mom did not have the courage to face the music, dad didn’t talk to me. I thought of myself as crazy, crazy and unlikable. That was the burden I was carrying. When something good happened, like getting a job, I thought I was faking it well. “They haven’t figured it out yet,” I’d tell myself. It has been a difficult life.

To this day, I still see myself as unlikeable. When you have lived with an idea for 50 years, you just can’t shed it easily. I led a life of being invisible, I strive to be invisible. But I survived, and feel that I am the luckiest of us three [siblings]. If I had to credit it to one event in my life, it would be the moment I understood the difference between spoiled and ruined.

Listen to interview snippets:


[* She asked to use a pseudonym, without photos]

 

Humor

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Barbara*, 1939-

“I remember praying one time to see the funny part of something before two years were out.”

I watched a funny sight the other day, a bird goofing up and tumbling onto the curb. I remember praying one time to see the funny part of something before two years were out. To close up that time gap. We see the humor, but often only after the pain is gone. I want to see the funny side a little sooner, if not immediately.

[* She asked to use a pseudonym, without photos]

Listen to snippets from the interview:

 

Mommy

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Barbara*, 1939-

“But to me growing up, she was mommy, I believed her stories; bought them hook, line, and sinker. ”

My mother was mentally ill. I don’t think she had a labeled disease, but she did not relate to things like a normal person. She had a difficult life herself, her father died before she was born. She came from a wealthy family, upper crust; dad was a German immigrant. That was a head-on collision. And that’s what I remember, their fights.

She told a lot of lies, and I don’t know what lies are about. Is it schizophrenia? But to me growing up, she was mommy, I believed her stories; bought them hook, line, and sinker. You don’t see through them, it took me years to understand. I remember one, she said that grandmother was dropped as a child. She said she was in direct line in the royal family. ‘She was!’ she insisted. But the drop caused her to have a hump on her back, and so they didn’t want her as queen. Even I could see through that one! she smiles

Adults were not as gullible when it came to her. They would take one look at her, and they would be polite, and say, ‘Thank you, Ms. Whatever.’ One time they called her to school, I must have not participated a lot. Right away, they realized my problems stemmed from a crazy mother. She was a good mother in many, many ways, but she did not realize you cannot raise a child on lies. Me? I try to excel at being honest. My brothers, on the other hand, both rich, but one is a compulsive liar; rich but floundering.

Positive memories of her? Oh yes, mommy! I mean, I loved her!

To listen to snippets from the interview:


[* She asked to use a pseudonym, without photos]