My True Religion
I am often mistaken for being a Buddhist, just as in my younger days a Catholic. It’s understandable why people would make that mistake, today I am a “Zen Monk” and have been for some time, and before that I was born and raised in the Catholic Church, baptized, confirmed, and attended Mass regularly (actually more regularly than most). However my true religion has always been and continues to be “Love and Community”. What I teach is “Love” what I strive to create here at Pine Wind and everywhere in my life is “Community”.
It was my Mother who chose Catholicism for me and my siblings but later I chose it for myself but not for the reasons most people choose their faith. I am not interested in the conventional notion that the reason one “joins” is to please God or follow a set of prescribed belief systems. It was the Love I witnessed Jesus live by, and taught by Him that was my attraction and, His teachings about Community. I love Him, I loved what he had to say and I should add, it never mattered to me whether he “resurrected” from the dead or not, or had supernatural powers – He had me at the cross. No greater reason than that for me to believe in someone or trust someone, than for them to live what they preach, and to be willing to die for it as well. Catholicism was for me a beautiful “vehicle” a “means” to practice my “religion”. When it no longer seemed possible to do so for reasons we can discuss another time if you’re interested, I looked further east and saw the Light of the Dharma.
It was the Buddha’s teachings on Compassion and Sangha which attracted my interest and, persuaded me to take the ride and I have been riding that vehicle ever since. It felt conducive from the very beginning and like my tour as a Catholic I am not interested in beliefs or metaphysical discussions about levels of consciousness, transcendence, about reincarnation, and all the other distractions western “buddhist” and other eastern practitioners tend to get caught up in. Like Siddhartha I just want to understand “suffering,” its “causes,” and the solutions for “cessation” from suffering. Like Jesus it was the Buddha’s teachings about Compassion and Loving-kindness, about Community (Sangha), the “interconnectedness” of all beings, and how we are in this all together (interdependence) that attracts me. Not to mention the emphasis on “silence” – God how I appreciate the “silence”.
Love is not some sentimental or romantic experience for me even though I have certainly felt sentimental and romantic on numerous occasions and am grateful I continue to. Love is my “religion” and my “practice”. Community is not just a group of like-minded people who get together for meetings, Community is essential and necessary, without which personal or global suffering is never going to be resolved. Buddha was not a Buddhist, Jesus was not a Christian, they were human beings awake and aware of their own Light living extraordinary lives, whose passion and vision continues to be much and too large for humans to handle. They taught Love, the raw natural organic version. So simple while at the same time incomprehensible for most. They both understood that we are all lost like the Hebrews in Moses time, but not in some organic desert, but in the deserts of our ego-delusion. They both tried to wake us up from the dream of separation, alienation, polarization, and the delusion of individualism. But we are lazy and prefer to stay in bed and continue dreaming. They both tried to convince us that we are so much more than our petty criticisms and judgements of each other, but we are not about to let them have our greed, our resentment, and certainly not our complacency and indifference. It’s the stuff that makes for great “breaking news”; the next popular “reality show”; “profits” and yes, “jobs”. (What we seem to forever be blind to see is that, it also makes for the other column of what makes up the bottom line – Loss.) They told us the Truth but we can’t handle the truth, it’s way to far inconvenient. We have become so comfortable with deception and delusion that our politicians don’t even try to disguise their lies and we elect them for that. Again like the Hebrews in the story of Moses it seems like our Nation is just wandering in circles, this time recycling the same old stuff with different branding, different actors, and more of the same promises they never fulfilled before but promise they will this time. And WE LOVE IT!
If you have ever read any of my inklings before, your sure to have read this: “The surest way to have your life go on the way it always has, is to keep doing it the way you have always done it.” The first requirement to be a member of my religion is the “willingness to change” everything about the way you’ve been doing it. In order to do that you need to “tell the truth” and “own the stuff, the habitual behavior and points of views, that keep you from ever entering the Promised Land”. Next you need to be willing to “stop playing it safe” and to give up all attachments to “certainty and knowing”. Finally you need, yes, wait for it, “Faith”. The real organic stuff Jesus and Buddha taught, not this “processed faith” in churches, synagogues, and temples we find today. The real stuff. You need to get to the highest plateau of the mountain and then look over the edge, and leap. Look into the heart and soul of the abyss and jump in. True religion, authentic spirituality, is never about getting to some utopia and staying there. It’s always been about the leap. The Kingdom of Heaven is everywhere all around us, inside us. The land is The Pure Land. But you need to climb up to your dream of heaven and then JUMP – That’s the faith of Jesus and Buddha. You might fly and then you might not. But nothing will ever be the same either way you land!
If it’s any help I’ll tell you, not to worry, because there’s a lot of room down here to catch you. Not too many people have been jumping for a very long time.
I love you,
Ps…More to come.