Rose-colored glasses

In 1966 I met a Buddhist couple at Bart’s Books who flat-out told me that I saw the world through rose-colored glasses. This morning, when I woke up after a night of strange dreams and revelations, it dawned on me that I’m finally beginning to grasp what they were talking about.

You could not help but notice this odd new Ojai couple. The woman’s name was Dolly Facter, and she gave me a copy of  her book, The Doctrine of the Buddha. Dolly was a little bitty powerhouse, with a crop of short, wild, white hair and huge black-rimmed glasses. She was probably in her late sixties, and usually clad in black tights, sandals, and a baggy top. Her husband, Richard, a good twenty years younger, was a tall, red-bearded, red-haired hippy-looking fellow who had a knack for making me feel uncomfortable. Always accompanying them on their walks all over town were two big, black, standard-size poodles that Dolly told me were in line to reincarnate as human beings next lifetime.

Dolly and Richard were vegetarians on Dr. Bieler’s Food Is Your Best Medicine diet. No wonder I started hanging out at their house on North Ventura Street, where they fed me big bowls of steamed zucchini, celery, parsley, and green beans, served with thick slices of Ranch House bread slathered in raw butter.

Dolly and Richard tried to plant in my rose-colored teenage mind the Buddha’s wisdom that “Life is suffering.” I didn’t want to believe their favorite expression: “Human beings are a mixture of greed, hatred, and ignorance.” But, this morning, as I thought of the painful childhoods and horrific blows my yoga students have shared with me these past forty-plus years, it struck me that my Buddhist friends were right. I not only saw the world through rose-colored glasses . . . I flat-out refused to take them off.

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