I am forever in debt to the handful of teachers, writers, and thinkers who introduced me to Buddhist practice, provide constant inspiration, and continue to shape my knowledge of this path.

Actually, I’m just forever in debt.

Every time I get in my 12-year-old car and rattle away to the nearest retreat center, I’m reminded that I’m a poor white trash Buddhist. It’s a good thing none of those luminaries will ever try to collect, since I can’t even afford the practice as it is. That’s a shame, because the dharma saved my life.

Once a miserable creature, I was crushed by depression and pursuing self-destruction with a level of dedication that would have made even Fight Club’s Tyler Durden cringe. When I came across a little book on Buddhism, I scoffed. It wasn’t an ordinary scoff, either. It was the abrasive, well-practiced derision of the outspoken skeptic. I bought the book because I was skeptical of even my own mockery.

Just a few chapters in, I understood that I’d always been a Buddhist. After the briefest descriptions ofanicca, dukkha, and anatta, I felt their truths ring in my bones. These teachings didn’t just make sense; they described an innate philosophy I’d always possessed but couldn’t articulate.

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