Once More, With Feeling

Posted in Buddhism, HH Dalai Lama, On writing, Running at 1:29 pm by Marion

This morning despite having five million items on my “to-do” list I sacrificed all for a long run. For more than a week I’ve longed for a big run, but I spend my mornings working and by 5 or 6 p.m. who wants to run seven miles? And then wake at 4:30 a.m. to start over again?

Sundays are usually my big run days, but the past few weeks I’ve actually spent at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church … in the sanctuary, doing the rituals, confessing, reciting and singing hymns.

It’s not as strange an exchange as it may seem, running and church. Running is my church — a time of profound reflection and focus. Moreover, running fills me with ecstasy and peace — and that’s worthy of the best church service.

Church and worship, however, can lead to an even more sublime moment as we are able to share the very air with a presence greater than ourselves — the hymns, the beautiful sanctuary and stained glass windows, yes, even the robes and all the formality. They give a sense of immaterial being, bliss and hallowedness.

There is also a sense of connecting with the best parts of myself. Prayers are said not to a paternalistic father “God” or lord (sounds so feudal and harsh); rather, those prayers are sent out to the universe and back to me — so I can manifest these positive effects and also so they will take shape among all mankind.

During my Buddhist studies I continued to see myself as a Christian Episcopal. I take seriously the advice given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who suggests any disciple of spiritual enlightenment hold true to the religion of their upbringing.

Now I see the wisdom of his advice. We are shaped and formed by the cultures and frameworks of faith that vary by region and nation. We must, however, find the commonality. Only by probing our own native faith will we be forced to find that commonality.

The world’s faiths are many languages: Different words for the same experiences and longings.

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