In the end, I know the teachings of Buddha go beyond Buddha, beyond the shape of things as they appear. There is no way to point to Buddhism and say, "There it is." Yet I find myself cuddling up to a sense of it just when the roar of life seems too loud.
For these reasons, I decided to offer this book to those who want to learn something about Buddhism. By no means have I covered the vastness of Buddha's teachings here. A myriad of books by numerous teachers, both Eastern and Western, offer a more thorough explanation of the teachings. It is important to say here that I am at the beginning of my journey as Zen priest, and I am referred to as a novice in our lineage. Therefore, what I share in this book derives from my direct experience of the practice as a student and as a dharma sister for more than twenty years. With the assistance of several dharma-transmitted Zen teachers, I created this offering to help clarify some aspects of Buddhism.
First, I would like to say that Buddha's teachings are similar to all other ancient teachings. His core teachings were much like those of Jesus, Mohammed, Sojourner Truth, White Buffalo Woman (who brought the Chanupa, or sacred pipe, to the Lakota), many unnamed indigenous medicine people, and other sages of old. They are similar in the sense that they address our connection to each other and ways to mend that connection when we cannot remember the relationship of all things.
Many ask, "What is Buddhism?" before they ask, "Who is Buddha?" The word Buddhism is only a name conjured up-centuries after Buddha's life-to capture all that Buddha taught. So though people ask, "What is Buddhism?" they might get a more accurate response if they asked, "Who was Buddha and what did Buddha teach?"