“Someone asks you why you’re a Buddhist. What’s your elevator speech?” (An “elevator speech” being a summary that you could give while riding in an elevator, so: thirty-seconds or less.) We asked our readers just that. Here’s what they said.
“I live with chronic illness. Whether I am in remission or experiencing a relapse, I remember the words of the Buddha, ‘Everything arises and passes away. When you see this you are above sorrow. This is the shining way.’ Buddhism has shown me that my illness is my greatest teacher.”—Fran Henig, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
“I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at 13. Now, I would have to take multiple shots of insulin a day, regularly check my blood sugar, and calculate all the carbohydrates in my food. An intense mindfulness practice. In college, I stumbled upon some Buddhist literature. What I read changed my life. I no longer saw parts of my life as just painful. Instead, wasn’t the ‘difficulty’ actually the opportunity to awaken into compassion? I’ve been a Buddhist practitioner ever since.”—Monte Michener, Estes Park, Colorado
“Because dukkha is a universal truth and I learned how to deal with it from Buddha’s wisdom and words.”—Akira Otani, Silver Spring, Maryland
“It has given me tremendous mental freedom, unlearning layers of faulty mental habits. I cannot avoid delusion without it.”—Victoria Kulzan, Phoenix, Arizona
“If I define my Buddhist practice as a result of something, I will create the concept of its opposite, and so unintentionally promote the delusion of dualism I am aiming to dispel. To conclude, I am a Buddhist simply because . . . I am. 🙂 “—Michal George, Cape Town, South Africa
“The Buddhist path brings me peace, clarity, and happiness. And it is open to anyone, no matter your religious tradition.”—Sarah Vance, Fairfield, Iowa
“I don’t like to think of myself as Buddhist, as if it’s something I’ve picked up. I believe in the truth and it just so happens that Buddhism is based on the truth.”—Sasha White, South Africa
“Buddhism gives me the tools to dissipate my confusion and live in the present moment, responsible for my own actions. I reflect, I learn, and I awaken further.”—Laura Wofford, Albuquerque, New Mexico
“I’ve looked for fulfillment in my achievements and winning others’ approval; in stringing together as many pleasant moments as life allowed; in doing what I could to avoid the dark places. It almost never worked—and when it did, it was never enough. The dharma has helped me stop this futile chase. It has given me a taste, even if it is fleeting and not as frequent as I’d like, of what it really means to be happy.”—Lisa Zimmerman, Washington, DC.
“Buddhism saved me from shooting myself. After my father’s death and a couple bad romances in my twenties, I was ready to blow my brains out. Buddhism revealed to me that most of what was going on was just thinking.”—Mike Papas, Portland, Oregon
“‘Here, let me get that door for you….what floor?’ (Might come in a shade under 30 seconds.)”—Tom Eunsahn Citta Gartland, West Hatfield, Massachusetts
“For me, Buddhism is equal to liberation.”—Paul Zimmerman
“Because it makes me aware that my choices really count, and that happiness can be a choice even in light of the worst of circumstances.”—Valerie Ferrari