Hello Everyone,

I live in a small rural college town in Kentucky, US. I am an accounting clerk at a state university.

I was brought up in a small conservative Evanglical church. In my early teens, I was a born-again fervent Jesus freak (back when Jesus freaks weren't cool). But, I soon after took up reading about other other religions in the world and books on popular science. This made literal interpretation of the Bible soon untenable. The world is simply too large and complex to be defined by the Bible or any other book. In short, I left my teen years as an existential atheist.

I started reading about Zen in my early 20's with Alan Watt's The Way of Zen and D T Suzuki's Essays in Zen Buddhism which whetted my taste. But it was The Three Pillars on Zen which really brought home that Zen is not reading about it, but doing it. I practiced zazen alone for a few weeks, but the only thing I had to go on for support was Kapleau's book (this was before the internet). I soon got distracted and lost interest.

Now, I'm forty. I won't say I'm in a mid-life crisis, I hate that term, but my youthful optimism about the world has been taking a beating in the last few years.

A couple of months ago I signed on Second Life one weekend after reading about it on Salon.com. I found a Skeptical Buddhist Sangha (a group based on Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs) there that holds weekly discussion and meditation meetings. I got into practicing vipassana after reading Mindfulness in Plain English I'm also in contact with a Soto monk and teacher who lives in France. And he has been instructing me in shikantaza. That is what I've been practicing for the last two weeks.

I know it sounds like the dharma meets "The Sims" or "Warcraft". But, it's the only way I can converse and interact with other Buddhists. Someday, I want to visit Zen Center when I work up the courage, have the money for gas, and have the time.

Anyway, that's my saga from armchair Buddhist to cyber Buddhist.