30 November 2008

Mumbai

Does this really have anything to do with faith? With religion? If someone robs a bank but says the devil made him do it, or Jesus, or God, a jury sees that for what it is and convicts him. We don't blame the faith the bank robber happened to choose to use as an excuse for his indefensible acts, right?

In the middle of the chaos, Mumbai still under seige, a woman interviewed on the radio pleaded for all people of faith not to use this crisis to pull apart from each other but to join together, to use it to rise above, to see what we share not what divides us. I hope her voice is heard and her prayers are answered.

Thanksgiving

I didn't bang pots and pans around this year. I think Buddhism had something to do with it.

How come I can leap from the a table in someone else's house to offer to help clear and clean the dishes, how come I can put my head down and simply do what's in front of me on a retreat at the Zen Center or the Hsi Lai Temple and even get pleasure from mopping a floor or scraping an old label off a window with a monk yet, in my house, the very thought of any item on my to do list gets a heavy sigh? What is it that makes the make the ordinary stuff of life feel like such an intrusion on my life? Just thinking about organizing my finances, doing the dishes, cleaning out the cabinets, the car, the flower beds is definitely something I can identify as suffering...that is, until real suffering comes along. Today I finally got it that it's all in my head and that's because I had a truly lovely Thanksgiving and I changed nothing about it except what was inside that head.

Karen Armstrong's quote is really coming home to me. Maybe religion isn't just about believing things; it's also about doing things that change your life. In these small but profound ways, this is definitely changing my life.

Okay...this post gives me an excuse to underscore that, as I am scurrying to get this blog up to date with where I am, putting up what I've been doing for the past eighteen months or so, I am currently working on Buddhism and beginning to figure out how and where to do Daosim which is coming next whether or not that was my plan. When I told Professor Amir Hussain I thought it might be time to start figuring out what came next and how to do it and it was either Confucianism or Daoism, he sent me to Robin Wang, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Asian and Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University. (Note: she's in the philiosophy department, not the religious studies department which is the very first thing I have to deal with: why does Huston Smith call Confuciansim and Daoism religions? Are they? And are either even "practiced" here in the United States? And is it spelled Daoism or Taoism? )

Anyway, Professor Wang said, "Oh you have to start with Daoism! Much more interesting. You have to deal with the body!"

Great. I decided to do this to get beyond the body but, no matter what I do, my body keeps getting dragged back into it.

Sorry to confuse the heck out of you with the past present and future all going on at once in this post. I hope to be thoroughly contemporaneous as soon as possible. When I catch up, I'll republish this post in its proper chronological place. In the meantime, please email me to let me know you're out there, to give me some sense of who's listening and what you're thinking about all of this. I'd like to know.

Right now I'm grateful I live in a home with people who don't mind my crazy ideas, who have supported me even as I act on them.

12 November 2008

Subscribe!

You see that heading over there ========>>>> in the skinny column? "Subscribe to posts?" If you click on it, it'll make following along with me even easier.

I tested it out and, when I clicked on the "subscribe to posts" link, it offered a bunch of choices like "My Yahoo", "Add to Google" etc. When I clicked on "My Yahoo," it put my blog on my Yahoo home page, right next to all the other stuff I like to read every day like the AP and Reuters services as well as a bunch of newspapers, blogs, and service items to which I like to have quick access. (Okay so I don't really need to know the weather in every single family member's home town but I do...)

So, try it out! I like company!

04 November 2008

Voting

Voted today. I waited in a long line - my first long line to vote ever - and it was thrilling. Usually I'm in and out in minutes but not one of us on line was impatient or put off. (Well, one school principal was happy when I let her go ahead of me.) Every person stood there, certain they had a purpose that morning and that it was critical they acted on it regardless of the outcome. Debbie, who's worked for my father in his office in rural Delaware for more than a decade voted for the first time....and she was excited about doing it. Today, so many of us felt that we mattered, that what we did today mattered. Isn't that faith? Isn't important to act out of that kind of faith whether or not it turns out to be correct? Didn't we all feel good acting out of that faith today?