With enthusiasm for the Dharma, Madhurima from India reached out to offer her skills to the Abbey. We asked her to share her story. Volunteers play a vital, often invisible, role helping Sravasti Abbey to fulfill our mission, and we welcome their support. Write the office if you’d like to volunteer, or join us in person for Offering Service Saturday on May 11.
Greetings to all my newly found friends at the Abbey!
My name is Madhurima Chowdhury. I live in Kolkata, India. By profession I am a writer who writes blogs and web content. I lost my father in 2008. Now my mom and younger sister live with me. I am married to Leonard, and we have a lovely pet named Buzo.
A little about my background
I was born and brought up as a Hindu. My parents never forced me or my younger sister to engage in deity worship like people do on a daily basis. They encouraged me to discover what I connect with myself. Since, from childhood, I was never forced into a particular philosophy, my mind has been open. I always respect that each of the people around me follows their own spiritual path. Personally, I never set up a deity at home. I never felt it in my heart to do so.
I did my schooling here in Kolkata and graduated in Commerce (business). I also learned graphic design and worked as a project head in a software development company for six long years. It was harsh. But I always tried to be positive, because I truly realised from my childhood that everything is in the mind.
In 2015 I quit the fulltime job and began freelance writing to make my living. I slowed down and felt peace inside me.
I explored Buddhism out of curiosity. I have used YouTube and listened to the Hindu holy book,The Gita. I have also listened online to the Bible. I am embarrassed to share that I am not attracted. Although those books teach great concepts, I still could not agree to many things they said. I am just 36 years old. I thought maybe my mind is not matured enough to understand them.
But, when I read about Gautama Buddha—his life, his monastic life, the four noble truths, and enlightenment—I was immediately enticed.
I liked the fact that no one is talking about a specific deity and no one is asking you to sit and do some mantras which you do not even understand. It made me feel light inside.
How I found the Abbey
I was exploring the web to know more about the life of the Buddha. Soon I began reading and listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Along with that I explored a treasury of YouTube videos of Buddhist teachings.
Every day as I sit to work ,before I begin, I put the on the headphones and listen to a teaching. If I am troubled inside by something specific I search more to find answers. Then I reflect about the things said all day. I love this ritual I do.
With this approach I heard Venerable Chodron. It is an unforgettable experience.
Soon I explored Sravasti Abbey—who they are, what work they do, the life of the Buddhist monastic, the teachings, in what ways I can give back, etc.
Why I explored Buddhism?
I wanted to find the meaning of peace and happiness. I have so many questions inside me.
Some are as follows:
- Why I suffer if my any family member does something wrong. I cannot change them. I cannot change any situation. In my heart I suffer. When I suffer I can’t work. I don’t know whether to still love them or hate them?
- When your boss accuses you for something, an instant anger comes. An instant defensive behaviour. How to tame the mind? Why should I be angry just because someone said me something?
- Why do I feel empty although life is so beautiful?
Those were just a few. I have many more questions. With the videos of Venerable Chodron and various other Buddhists I am slowly finding sense. I know how to pause now and wait before I react.
I confess that I was many times sad inside my heart as I grew up. I have made decisions in life, or have nurtured thoughts which now—post mortem using the precious Buddhist teachings —I can see were wrong. I am looking at things in a different way now.
The teachings are helping me a lot. However I am failing a lot too. Random events or people in life trigger a reaction.Soon I forget the teaching and start acting the usual old way. But now I know how to take time to then regret it and make another promise to act differently the next time.
I am a big work in progress at present.
I am here to find balance in life. I wish to learn and in some way help others benefit in the way I have.
With this hope, I am currently in week two of the Sravasti Abbey Friends Education (SAFE) distance learning course. A million thanks to the teachers at the Abbey and the staff and all students.
by Madhurima Chowdary