For two years in a row the Sacred Experience Committee of the Heartland Pagan Festival hired me to give Buddhist teachings during their event. It’s an outdoor camping festival in the Midwest that has been going on for 30 years. I takes place on Memorial Day weekend.
I enjoyed the first year. There was something special about giving teaching out in the woods, where people were celebrating life.
Dancing around bonfires. Walking around naked in the sunshine, in front of strangers with no sense of shame. Cavorting. Reveling. Just enjoying life and being happy. Being wild and free. Such a rare opportunity in the modern world.
Pagan camp can really be a wonderful thing and I really valued having the chance to go give Buddhist teachings in a place where other Buddhist teachers seemed unlikely to go.
And the people were really receptive. They wanted to learn about the Dharma. They wanted to meditate in the woods with me. The organizers of the festival wanted people from various religions to come give teachings, but in the 30 years of it’s existence they had never had a Buddhist teacher come before.
So, last year when I was invited back I went again. Again I saw people who were wild and free. Again I delivered teachings to people who were unlikely to receive them otherwise.
But something else happened too.
My wife threw up in my tent. And she told me she didn’t really love me anymore. That’s the extent of what I have to say about the end of my marriage.
We are divorced now.
Now the Sacred Experience Committee has reached out to me once again.
I have a few months to decide, but I’m not sure if I’ll go. I probably won’t.
Bad memories weighing on my mind and all that.
And I’ve never camped alone.
But I do wonder if the people there really have a need for the teachings.