10.22.08

Brothers, Sisters

Posted in Buddhism, HH Dalai Lama at 7:55 am by Marion

One of the first messages you’ll read in most books by His Holiness the Dalai Lama is his recommendation that we all remain faithful to the religion of our family, our childhood, our culture.

When I first read that line, I thought: What, you don’t want me as a Buddhist?

At the same time, it was incredibly refreshing. No pressure to convert!! No doom of damnation hanging over me!!

Having grown up in the Bible Belt I was used to people trying to “save” me. Never mind that I was baptized as a Christian; there are hundreds of people on any given day trying to tell me, well, where to go.

So HH the Dalai Lama basically sets us free from requirements of terrestrial religion. But he does not release us from our obligation to respect other living beings and to make sure we cause no harm (ahimsa). He commonly refers to his audience as “Dear Brothers and Sisters.”

He asks us to be humble and modest, and never to take credit for our good deeds; but rather to be mindful of the many good people who have gone before us and who will come after us.

One of the meditations he recommends is to imagine ourselves at our worst, our most clutching and greedy (Yes, try it sometimes. It’s quite humbling).

We imagine this greedy self to one side of us, then, at the other side, we imagine someone who’s desperately poor, starving, homeless or sick.

The first time I did this mediation I nearly wept. It is still one of the most grounding meditations I can do.

In keeping with His Holiness’s guidance, I have not given up my Christian faith. Rather, it is now a larger spiritual practice, multi-dimensional, because it includes meditations on compassion. Larger in meaning because I now include great teachers like Buddha, Zoroaster and other prophets in my meditations on good. More profound because I think on great leaders like St. Frances, Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin King and Nelson Mandela.

Recently, attending church, I have found new enlightenment in the sanctuary, among my companions in faith worshiping together. This connection arises, doubtless, because I better see our unity in light of the struggling monks in Tibet, China and Burma, who are willing to be jailed and beaten for their faith.

I attend the Episcopal Church because I believe we are deeply faithful to the teachings of Christ. My church welcomes people of all backgrounds and walks of life, and have ordained an openly gay minister, which for me, represents Christ’s instructions to include and embrace each other.

Having spent many hours with my Buddhist books, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings last year and his books regularly; and my readings of Old and New Testament scripture, I no longer see conflict among them, only an ever-growing picture of the human desire for the divine.

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