As I’ve entered the holiday season with so many other Americans, it has come to me quite clearly, two things: how desperately I need to travel the world and overseas and how destroyed our culture in this country has become. And how tortured our spirits as human beings are because of this.
We are a country based on survival, of competition and taking. It is what is owed to us, not what is given. We will take your ipod, your shirt off your back, your job, your wife, your life. And we will do it without regret or remorse. We will take our oil, our debt, and even our traditions. We will borrow them, but not give them back. We will take our Black Friday. We will consume, we will further, we will take.
Both my parents, who work in healthcare, will be working this Christmas holiday. My brother and I, in leiu of having a family destination for that day, have opted for a soup kitchen. It’s been a long time since I’ve volunteered anywhere or even wrote about it. I based this blog years ago on the concept of human flaw and I think this is a path for me to return to that, to re ‘take’ that which was already given to me: the ability to write, write well, and communicate to other people my thoughts as a human being.
So here we go…
There are places in the world, and I know they exist, where nothing is expected of you. You walk your life for yourself, you be good and help people up when they need it, if you can. And you receive.
I think it’s redundant to say here that yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that you take value in what you put value in. These are very common and core beliefs that many people forget because they are so lost in surviving, in wanting.
There is nothing special about me spending Christmas day in a soup kitchen. It’s a holiday well spent cherishing the human spirit with other people. And I do have to give a nod to Pope Francis, to spiritual leaders everywhere. And yes, I do believe this new Pope really is a spiritual leader, unlike many that have come before him. Not a church leader, not a political leader, a spiritual leader. He gives to me, to the public, to humanity without expectation.
I recently read on the Dalai Llama’s blog, no doubt, that he is not only the fourteenth Dalai Llama, but that he may very well be the last. Not just because he has stepped down from political power from Tibet, but that he has set in motion a series of contingencies where once he has passed, Buddhism, from the abbots and monks to the religion as a whole, will have to decide whether a Dalai Llama, the Dalai Llama, is needed anymore.
I recently sat in on a Buddhist group meditation here in Cleveland. And while much of the information was about the traditions of group meditations, the bells, the incense, even the colors and shapes of these things, I can’t help but attempt to describe to you what happened to me during this time. The abbot gave us insights within the first ten minutes or so on posture, thought patterns and how to ‘stay and return’ during meditation. Give and receive.
I’ve talked to a couple people now about the experience, one or two that have studied Buddhism and meditation for years and myself, not so much as a skeptic but just curious, told the abbot that I had a a ‘superficial’ belief in the religion.
Because I only had a knowledge of Buddhism and not a wisdom. For over ten years, I’ve sorted through doctrine and traditions, eight-fold paths and four noble truths, to get where I am now in not only understanding the difference in this to Western religion, but to understand my own strength at making peace with it and myself.
Buddhism, like Hindusim, is very much inclusive. You are a Buddha already. You can be Christian and still be this Buddha. There is no right or wrong, sinners and saints, black and white. And it goes very well with the belief that I have always had, that there is no such thing as good or evil, only being closer or farther from a god, creator or the universe. Or even yourself as such.
My mother has always pestered me, going on ten years now I think, that she always thought it would be great if I actually ended up becoming a practicing Buddhist. I think because she has so many ties, belief and value in her church. And I don’t know if I will ever end up becoming a Buddhist, after all, we are all very much a Buddha. And sometimes this has shown in my fiction in small ways, the seven steps Siddartha took after birth, the yoga a firefighter’s wife practices.
When I sat in that room with three other people meditating, a wisdom came over me and I let go of the knowledge. It was awkward at first, the silence, the passing cars, the two other community college students who were there for a class. Something happened in my mind, to me, that really (and I’ve only described this once so far to other people) can only be summed up in ‘humming.’
I felt, for those fifteen to twenty minutes, the vibration and sound and color of either myself or the room or the universe or all three, but it was humming. It was harmony. It was changing and flowing and these were my beautiful thoughts: of my life, my world, of staying and returning. I’m being dead serious, I literally felt a humming.
I may practice the meditation alone for awhile, I may not. I meditate now while I write and that has always been my own personal form of meditating. Writing. But I believe I have found something that not just was always there, but that is especially important to me, to this blog, to the season. I go with the flow and tide of the winter, of family and friends and celebrations. They hit one after another like waves against the shore or boat, cresting when they are needed most but always there and coming towards us from that distance.
I go knowing a better part of my own peace this Christmas, a better part of Chris.