Girl looking at her cell phone in shop full of Buddhas

Consume Less Buddhism

My New Year’s resolution is to consume less Buddhism in 2020. Rather than slashing calories or signing up for a spin class, my intention is to reduce my intake of all things Buddhist: to read fewer books, limit the number of podcasts I listen to, and, except for my simple timer, avoid meditation apps. For years I’ve gorged on all of the aforementioned. I’m a not a glutton in other areas of my life, in fact, I’m a skinny minimalist.

When I began studying Buddhism in the 1980s, gluttony wasn’t a problem, or even a possibility. The curious seeker had to scrounge around bookstores for the few available titles. In the 1990s, the first issues of Tricycle magazine offered a glimpse into the burgeoning Buddhist scene in America. Today, Buddhist products flood the marketplace. Meditation has become as mainstream as Starbucks and veggie burgers.

After years of nonstop consumption, I’ve had enough. Time to get up from the feast, go for a walk, allow some time and fresh air to digest the rich meal I’ve eaten.

By consume, I don’t mean practice. I’ll continue to meditate every day and spend time on retreat. But for the twelve months of 2020, I’ve put a personal moratorium on buying Buddhist books. Instead, I’ll reread the ones already on my shelves or see what the library has to offer. My intention is to study a few texts deeply, learn short passages by heart, live with them for a while, set them down and pick them up again. The year will about absorbing, rather than moving on to something new.

By consuming less Buddhism, I don’t mean none. I’m cutting back, not abstaining. I’ve learned a lot from books and talks and the teachers who offered them. Grateful as I am for all the instructions, stories, tips and lists, I’m overly full at the moment.

A line from the poet Seamus Heaney won’t stop bothering me: “You’ve listened long enough.”

Thank you, but no thank you. It’s all been delicious, but for the moment, I’m full.


Feature image courtesy of Tesum via Flickr