Buddhist Interview (Meghan Wiemer)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Trent Bates/UVU Review

Trent Bates/UVU Review

When did you start becoming interested in Buddhism?

I don’t know if I can pinpoint the exact person or thing that sparked my interest in Buddhism. Since a young age, I was drawn to Eastern thought. The more I read about Buddhism, the more sense it made to me.

How would you define spirituality?

Spirituality to me is concerned with ending suffering. I believe this can be achieved through meditation, mindfulness and the understanding of reality. To practice this kind of spirituality, you do not need to be a Buddhist. The ultimate goal is to end suffering and reach enlightenment. There are various paths to this goal and Buddhism is just one of those paths.

Is it difficult being a Buddhist in Utah?

It was at first just because I wanted to be surrounded by people that were “more like me.” But I have come to see that there are actually a lot of people just like me. In fact, everyone is so much alike that at times I can hardly distinguish one person from the other. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure, we are all different in certain ways, but we are still deeply interconnected – and not just with one another, but with the entire universe. Now let me give you (“you,” which is actually me since I am interviewing myself) another answer to that question that might be less wordy and “far out”: No, it is not difficult being a Buddhist in Utah.

Do you believe in God?

I am less concerned with the idea of a god than I am with the human condition. The Buddhist path is focused on coming to a place of acceptance with birth, sickness, old age and death. And as a side note, Buddhists do not think of Buddha as a god. They see him as a great teacher and a normal human being who achieved perfection by ending suffering. We are all already buddha. We just need to realize our buddha-nature.

How has Buddhism changed your view on life?

It has helped me to see things more clearly. I see the impermanence in things that beforehand I saw as unchanging. I try to practice mindfulness in all situations, which helps me to be more aware of my own feelings and the feelings of others.  Before studying Buddhism and practicing meditation, I would get caught up in various negative emotions quite easily.  Now I feel like I can handle such emotions in a calmer, less dualistic way.

Did you hear about the Dalai Lama recently fist-bumping the mayor of Memphis?

Yes, I did. He has a great sense of humor. I thought it was interesting that he said the fist-bump reminded him of violence. He is a very observant, mindful man who doesn’t take himself too seriously. I find these to be great qualities.