“If the Catholic Church did what it taught, it’d be a great religion,” said the man of the middle-aged couple holding hands—itself a rare sight—shuffling along in front of me on the crowded sidewalk. But he’d decided that “Buddhism is the best religion. It’s all about the self. [A short pause.] And the environment.” The woman agreed.

They were talking loudly, and as far as I could understand him, he thought Buddhism came without all the personal and dogmatic entanglements other religions demanded and left you alone to deal with your own problems. But it also helped you merge with the cosmos, and that made you ecologically sensitive and support environmentalist laws and causes.

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