Through the Looking Glass, the book
Through the Looking-Glass: An American Buddhist Life, Bhikkhu Cintita Dinsmore, 2014, pp. 350, available in hardcopy, pdf.
One begins life with a certain innate personality, what Buddhists have interpreted as residual karma from a previous life, a lump of clay already exhibiting certain surprisingly distinctive qualities. As a boy and then a man grows, he makes life decisions and takes on certain behaviors under the influence of the world in which he lives, he slowly but continually, aware of it or not, shapes and reshapes that lump into different forms, which are typically at each stage not an improvement. To commit to Buddhist practice is to undertake to shape that lump of clay into something astonishingly beautiful, something imbued with virtue, serenity and wisdom, in sharp contrast world in which that life is lived. To take up monastic practice is to recognize the preposterous quality of conventional life that threatens at each stage to choke off this beauty. It is to pass through the Looking Glass to live on the other side according to the way things really are rather than how they appear. This is the story of my attempt to live the promise of the monastic path.
Download text here (uploaded 12/22/2014)