I arrived in India aged 19, longing for the profound but with no idea where or how to look. In a dusty Delhi chai shop, someone handed me Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, and it opened a whole new world to explore: consciousness.

While its descriptions were somewhat fantastical, with anecdotes of saints and sages and their transcendent visions and powers, I also sensed a more prosaic, yet equally compelling invitation: I could train my mind, instead of being at its mercy! Explore the nature of consciousness, instead of just thinking about it! And maybe make peace with myself and the world.

I simultaneously read Buddhism by Christmas Humphreys, which was abstract by comparison. Inspired by both the buddhadharma delivered by an English academic and Yogananda’s kaleidoscopic, technicolor vision of the inner life, I enrolled for a ten-day Buddhist meditation course in Dharamsala and felt a profound homecoming. Finding dharma was like discovering water in the desert. A clear resolution arose: I’m going to give my life to this.

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