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Excerpted from Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate by Brad Warner. Copyright © 2009 by Brad Warner. Excerpted by permission of New World Library, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Buddhist practice is difficult and takes a lot of time, effort, and energy."

  Brad Warner,
Zen Wrapped in Karma
Dipped in Chocolate
, Part 3

This woman happened to be going through some pretty heavy shit in her life at the time she went to the temple — something like a divorce or a lingering illness in the family, that kind of thing. Add to that the culture shock of just coming to Japan and the triple culture shock of living in a Zen temple and the quadruple culture shock of being a white woman in an all-male Japanese Zen temple, and you have a surefire recipe for a nervous breakdown.

And that's exactly what happened. The poor woman started cracking up under the stress. Only her teachers told her that this was a sign that she was about to experience enlightenment, if only she pushed a little harder. So she pushed harder for her big breakthrough. And boy, did she get it. She went completely wacko and finally had to be forcibly ejected from the temple. It took her years to get over it. God only knows what kind of things some of the victims of those instant-enlightenment seminars are going through now.

There's a truckload of extremely good reasons why you don't want to rip open the doors of your subconscious too quickly. If you're not fully prepared for what's behind those doors, they're better left shut tight until such time that you are. It's a dangerous game to fuck with people's heads.

In the furious-paced, get-it-done-yesterday world we live in, the idea of In-N-Out Enlightenment sounds pretty appealing. But do you really think someone who weasels you in with an appeal to your hunger for big experiences right away so you can move on to the next thing has anything of value to offer? It is this very hunger for big experiences that real Buddhist practice is intended to root out.

Buddhist practice is difficult and takes a lot of time, effort, and energy. I know no one likes hearing that. But tough titty if you don't. There are no shortcuts. There are no easy ways to circumvent the pain and difficulty of practice any more than there are ways to develop a hot bod without working out for years. But you know what? It's not really that painful or difficult. You just sit on a cushion and stay still for a little while every day. If you can't handle that much effort, I feel pretty bad for you.

As Buddhism becomes more widely accepted, guys trying to make a fast buck on people's misconceptions about it are going to keep crawling out of the manure. It's really a buyer-beware situation. If you think enlightenment is something someone can give you in a big hurry for $150, you deserve what you get. But if you're ready to face reality, the real practice is there, and the real teachers are more plentiful than you can imagine.

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