I am Anattā. Not my real name, of course, but that’s the point. I selected the moniker Anattā because in Buddhism, my primary spiritual practice, the term anattā refers to the doctrine of “non-self”, that there is no unchanging, permanent self in living beings.
In more practical terms, I chose the name Anattā because by writing anonymously, it’s far easier to be completely candid and honest. Further, there is no danger of my writing becoming tainted by any desire for self-aggrandizement. After all, how could I glorify myself without revealing who I am? Anonymity is a powerful antidote to pride.
I write primarily to improve my own understanding of these topics, but my deepest desire for writing on this site is to help others. If my life experience has any value it’s in what I can give to other people. If even one person finds the content on this site valuable, if it makes even the smallest improvement in their life, then all the work is worth the time and effort I put into it.
I was raised in the Catholic Church, but on my way to Confirmation when I was 14, I told my mother I didn’t believe in God. That didn’t go over well. While I no longer consider myself an atheist, my beliefs about God and Christianity are not central to my life. Despite living a short walk from a historic Spanish Mission and modern Basilica, I have only gone back to the Church for weddings and funerals since I was a teenager.
Despite my poor experience with religious indoctrination, I’ve always been fascinated by spiritual matters. As a pre-teen and teenager, I studied and debated philosophy and religion with anyone who would listen. I’ve always been fascinated with consciousness, and I’m a keen observer of my own mind.
When I was 18, I remember a day when my life’s circumstances were close to perfect. I had many blessings, and while my grasping and attachment always wanted more, I recognized that life was especially good. Yet, despite this realization, I felt little joy or elation. Something was wrong. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was my first deep experience of the First Noble Truth. I should have been happier than I was, but I didn’t understand why, and I had no idea what to do about it.
In my early 30s, my suffering drove me to a year and a half of emotional therapy. It was during this phase that I first discovered Buddhism. I learned about it intellectually, and I put some of the concepts to work in my own life, but I was not a practitioner.
I got married and promptly fell asleep for the better part of two decades. After years of slow progress with various self-help programs, I finally decided that if I wanted to make something useful and meaningful from what was left of my life, I needed to study and practice Buddhism in a more focused way. It proved to be a wise decision.
Most of the posts on this blog come from the realizations and experiences on my journey toward a happier and more fulfilled life.
I live a quiet life in an affluent enclave on the Western Coast of the United States. The material comfort I enjoy puts me in the top 1% of people living on this planet. I grew up in a rural Midwestern town with few resources, but realistically, despite my internal feelings of scarcity, I still enjoyed a quality of life better than 90% of the planet. I realize my good fortune, and I’m thankful for it every day.
I have a loving wife and a special-needs child with whom I spend most of my time. While I’ve lived nearly monastically at different periods in my life, I enjoy the life of a lay practitioner. My family has been the source of many of my spiritual realizations, and since I write anonymously, I can be more open about my life experiences than what would otherwise be comfortable.
I learned to write by writing. I wrote a daily blog for over 10 years, and during that time, I never missed posting on a weekday. I’m a prolific writer because I have the ability to take the thoughts straight from my mind and record them. While I take the craft of writing seriously, I don’t spend much time on revising or rewriting most of my work. For better or worse, what you read is how my mind naturally organizes my thoughts.
Writing for this website is a labor of love for me. When it started, it had no readers, which was helpful for finding my new voice. While I hope to reach people in a way that improves their lives, whether I reach one or one million, I persevere because the writing comes from a place deep inside. I have an urge to share, to help, to make a difference.
Thank you for sharing your time and attention to read this body of work. I appreciate you.