Introduction: Toby and Angela

A few months after we finished the Vajradhatu seminary, in 2000, Toby, Angela, and I were standing on the sidewalk outside someone’s tenement apartment in the East Village one evening, wondering why so many of the older Vajrayana Buddhist practitioner’s that we knew were so crazy and/or nasty. I’d asked my friend Berkley about this earlier (she came up with that crowd), and she’d said two things: that Buddhism isn’t about getting nicer—it’s about becoming more who you are; and that if you see a sadhaka (such aforementioned advanced practitioner) behaving in such a way, you can bet that they don’t practice.

Anyway, Ang and Toby and I were a little worried about this—were we going to end up nasty? So we made a pact. We all promised that if any one of us started behaving badly, the others would use a codeword that meant, “Believe it: It’s happened to you.” That code word, we decided, was “crazy/nasty.”

The fact is, though, that ten-and-a-half years later, both Toby and Ang have become giant softies. Ang is finishing her chaplaincy residency at a Vets Hospital in Seattle, and will be going into a long retreat in the fall (if you want to donate to that, write me at deitch(at), and I’ll tell you how), and Toab has just set up shop doing brilliant acupuncture and herbs out on the edge of Chinatown here in New York.

When I get down about whole momentous endeavor, I think of them, and get my crazy/nasty ass back on the cushion.


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