Dear Buddha,

I don’t know if there’s someone I can talk to about this, or if there’s a customer service hotline to call, or some bodhisattvas whose contact info I could get, or if I could just chat with you directly, but I’ve been meditating daily for the past two weeks and I still haven’t achieved enlightenment. I’m not sure what the deal is but I wanted to lodge a formal complaint. Do you have an email? Or a LinkedIn page? Twitter account? Let me know, Siddhārtha. I hope it’s cool if I call you Siddhārtha.

I really don’t understand what the issue is. I bought a copy of the Dhammapada off of Amazon, I have a paid subscription for the Headspace app, and I also purchased some rose quartz crystals at a shop in Downtown Fort Myers which are currently sitting on my living room table. I even ordered a Buddha sculpture from Etsy that doubles as a bookend for my various books on self-care and spirituality.

To be honest, I thought this was going to be way easier. I mean, I’ve put in the work. I was a philosophy minor at an expensive liberal arts college in undergrad, plus I went to several East Village meditation classes back when I lived in New York. These days I even sometimes burn sage and incense in my apartment. I bought a meditation bench off of Etsy too. So no, I don’t really get why my efforts haven’t borne full fruit.

The standard annoyances of temporal existence still irk me: my upstairs neighbors stomping around like elephants every evening, my friends and family periodically asking me when I’m going to get a “real job.” I thought the noise of daily life would have been quieted by now. I thought my monkey mind would have been sufficiently tamed. But at this point peace eludes me. I’m still so subject to the vicissitudes of life. I still feel restless, unsettled, irritable. An omnipresent pall of despair still hangs over my person.

How am I supposed to create a social media account and gloat about my enlightened state—lording my liberation over my plebeian followers and playing gatekeeper for nirvana—if I haven’t achieved enlightenment yet. It’s taking so long and I need to get my social media career off the ground. I don’t have the time for this. Is there an accelerated program?

And the other issue is how will I know when I’ve reached nirvana? They say it’s obvious, but how will I know when I’ve fully awakened? Do you send me a certificate in the mail? Do I get a congratulatory email? A text notification?

Also, can I still drink booze and look at porn, or are those things out if I truly want to stick to the Noble Eightfold Path and reach bonafide Buddhahood? I know the answer to this obviously, I’m just asking for a friend.

And regarding the jhānas—the different states of meditative concentration achieved along the path to enlightenment—do I have to go through each stage sequentially or is there a way that I can “jump” jhānas, as it were. For instance, hypothetically speaking, would someone potentially be able to slide you a couple of crisp Jacksons, if you catch my drift, in return for being bumped up a jhāna or two. Again, this is purely hypothetical, I was just curious if such a thing was kosher within the realm of Buddhism.

Look, I know patience is important in Buddhist teachings but what the hell man? How much sage do I have to burn, how many cups of green tea do I need to consume before transcendence is mine, before I can leave behind this world of woes, or at least have the quotidian shit stop nagging me? Is there a TED Talk I missed? Do I have to sign up for one of those multi-day meditation retreats led by white people in Upstate New York? What online seminar do I need to sign up for to free myself from suffering and the ceaseless cycle of death and rebirth? Let me know. I have my credit card ready. Doesn’t money talk? Doesn’t Gautama Buddha speak the universal language of greenbacks?

Anyway, thanks for listening. I’ve just been feeling a bit impatient these days, but I’ll keep chugging steadfastly along the prescribed path. But all the same, if there’s a special summer discount on nirvana or something, feel free to let me know. Shoot me an email. Or drop me a line on Facebook. Whatever’s easiest.

Respectfully,

Dan

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