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I was twenty-two when I decided I was a Buddhist. This year is the thirtieth anniversary of that moment of epiphany. What have I got to show for it?
By some standard I’ve worked hard at being a Buddhist, as have so many of you who are reading this now. I’ve overturned my life several times because of Buddhism, at some pain to myself and others. I went to India and I have done a long solitary retreat. I’ve known a number of great teachers and I’ve had the good fortune for the last ten years to read dharma for a living. So after all this, why am I not discernibly different from people who aren’t Buddhists? Why am I so little changed from when I started thirty years ago?
I’m not putting on a hair shirt here. I think that I and the many practitioners I know are decent people, and maybe we have a different and deeper view of life. But do I find my Buddhist friends noticeably more decent, patient, kind and wise than my non-Buddhist friends? I don’t see a lot of difference. I like them all. Which is good. But what does that say about Buddhist practice?