Welcome to Dharma Cowgirl
It started with a hat, a straw cowboy hat, made in Mexico, one size fits all. I wore it with familial pride, low to shade my eyes from the high mountain sun. So they called me a “dharma cowgirl.” This was the seed. The idea it evolved means many things to me, too many to explain here. For now, it has become the namesake of this place, a blog dedicated to common sense dharma. This is a place to share insights, opinions, lessons, stories, thoughts, and memories. At the moment, it is my place, but I hope to share it with others.
We have glorified the cowboy as some kind of rugged individualist who needs no one else. However, those of us who have known real cowboys and cowgirls realize how ridiculous this idea is. In what Americans call the West, that area between the Missouri river and the Pacific, no one survives alone. Ranchers, farmers, and the people in the small towns all work together. If they hadn’t or they didn’t, no one would make it. People like me, whose various branches of the family tree settled in Nebraska with the homestead act, wouldn’t have even had a chance to be born, let alone live long enough to find the buddhadharma.
I am a child of two worlds – a child of Nebraksa and a child of the Buddha. Yet I do not find these worlds at odds. Rather, they are echoes of one another, mirror twins wearing different clothes, speaking different languages, but saying the same thing. One lesson comes through loud and clear.
No one can do it alone, but no one else can do it for you. This is the lesson of a dharma cowgirl.
One can receive all the instruction in the world on how to ride a horse from dozens of teachers and friends. But in the end, the only way to learn to ride is to climb into the saddle . It will take years, decades, even a lifetime to truly master a horse (and then there is always the next horse), but we can only do so if we are willing to climb into that saddle to begin with. A cowgirl is willing to do that work, knowing that sooner or later she’ll be thrown, she’ll get hurt, and then she is willing to climb back into the saddle anyway.
“Each of us must learn to become our own authority,” Jack Kornfield tells us in A Path With Heart. “This and this alone will liberate us.”
That doesn’t mean we can travel the path by ourselves any more than those early settlers would have survived their first winter alone. Not even the Buddha did it entirely alone; he studied with many teachers and many friends before he found that bodhi tree. He still had to be the one to sit under it. Likewise, his followers gathered together in communities for good reason. It is for this reason that I one day hope to add other voices here. Humans are strongest and wisest when we work together and live in community, whether it is physical or virtual. But for now, there’s just me. I’m willing to get things started.
In that spirit, the Dharma Cowgirl blog begins. There are six sections, each with its own reason for being. On Dharma will share insights, for now, largely derived from my coursework as a Buddhist chaplaincy student. Horse Sense is the opinion section. I’m an opinionated person and I don’t mind a good argument. Riding Lessons are tips and advice for surviving college. Buddha knows, I’ve had enough experience there. Campfire Stories is a place for prose and tales. Drunk Talk is the catchall for rambling thoughts. Finally, Bygone Times is where old posts live again (braaaiiinnnsss!).
I welcome those of you who ride this trail with me, especially those who followed me from my previous home in the buddhablogosphere, Buddhist in Nebraska, hereafter referred to as BIN. If you would like to become a contributor please email me at email@example.com.