This Side of Nirvana . . .

Memoirs of a Spiritually Challenged Buddhist

(Fair Winds, 2001; reissued by Keep It Simple Books, 2008) with a foreword by Cheri Huber


I became a “seeker” not by nature but by necessity; my interest in meditation was strictly an antidote to near-terminal restlessness. Far from offering a magic cure, meditation proved excruciating. As a last resort, I went to work at Southern Dharma Retreat Center in western North Carolina in hopes of acquiring equanimity through osmosis.

At Southern Dharma I met Zen teacher Cheri Huber, an American woman my own age—not at all what I had in mind as my ticket to enlightenment. But I kept showing up for her retreats, and during the next ten years, Cheri patiently guided me in how to use my suffering to discover the compassionate acceptance that is the heart of Buddhism.

This book recounts my first steps on the path of deepening awareness. The story moves from awesome Asian masters and oddly cheerful monks, through frustration, confusion, and desperate longing, to the woman teacher who turns macho Zen inside out. Among the surprises along the way was the discovery that the best thing I brought to my spiritual seeking was what I had going for me all along—the sincerity of my simple wish to be happy.

Available through