I felt distinctly guilty—almost accused—when Joseph Goldstein said, “If Buddhism is more than just a hobby to you . . .” I don’t remember how he finished the sentence. I was one of a hundred or so students in the meditation hall. I’d never met the man, yet I felt like he was addressing me.
Is Buddhism just my hobby? I wondered.
My fear, of course, was that I was an amateur Buddhist, a dilettante, a poseur in a lotus t-shirt. Clearly I was not a professional. I never list Buddhism as my religion on a questionnaire. And though I’m all for enlightenment, it seems unlikely I’ll reach it in this lifetime. It’s not even on my to-do list.
In a good week, I meditate seven out of seven mornings. In a bad week, I may not sit at all. How often I sit is the sort of thing I sometimes discuss with other meditators, though it seems a lot like asking married friends how often they have sex. Everyone, I’m sure, imagines everyone else is doing it more than them.
When I got home from the retreat, I looked up hobby: “An activity or interest pursued outside of one’s regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure,” was the definition.
Hmmm. If you substitute sanity or well-being for pleasure, maybe I am a Buddhist hobbyist. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.