Well, I've applied the the Buddhist chaplaincy program and waiting to hear if I get in...talked with my friend Rachel about one of the questions and now I have doubts about how I answered.
This is called....*anxiety from being inside for two years*. It is not mindfulness or calm or peace or any of those words. Jeezus.
Another friend and I met for lunch and we went to a cathedral nearby to look at the stained glass and the Mary statues. Both were beautiful. Yes, it was a Catholic church and boy they have some pretty real estate. I reminded myself that the church ripped off pre-christian cultures and appropriated seasonal change festivals and Earth mother images to get the peasants to come along. Oh, and they burned a bunch of people, mostly women, for being witches. There's that. We won't even mention pedophile priests.
I have been thinking about organized religion in general these days. The creation of false divisions among people has caused unimaginable suffering. Depending on what we believe, we are either friend or foe. And therefore worthy of clobbering. Listening to a news report about Northern Ireland and the new rise of Sinn Fein, I'm reminded of the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants in that part of the world.
Even Buddhists. All religion is populated with human beings. And we are fallible, especially the ones who claim to have inside information or direct lines to some supernatural being. So many charlatans over so many years. And we follow them, hoping for redemption or an answer to our sorrow or some kind of certainty.
What is it about us, that we long for a belief system so we don't have to think for ourselves. We don't have to face our own aging, sickness and death. I don't mean to be morbid here, just realistic. When I met the boy in the boat on Ganges across from the burning ghats, I understood that we humans can have vastly different ideas about our own mortality. For some of us, it's the promise of heaven. For others it's reincarnation that keeps us going. Sin, unskillful actions, commandments or precepts, all are exhortations to behave, in one way or another.
There is also the opportunity to be kind, respectful and loving. Because it is who we are. We are the worst and we're the best. Just as we can understand how others can kill and revile and do hateful things, we can also choose a different way. Eden and I were talking about the show, "Call the Midwife", running for many seasons on BBC. She asked why we love it so. We have watched it together, tears leaking from our eyes. I realized it's because the characters; the young midwives and the nuns, are kind. They are working with poor women and their babies and they get entangled in the families and the community. They show up, caring beyond their duties as medical folks. We can all think of people like them. We are people like them, maybe not all the time, but we know what it means to be kind to others, just because it is the right thing to do.
Ok, I put a coat on the dog. He was shivering on the back porch and it's time for a long walk. He feels humiliated wearing a plaid blanket on his back. Silly Felix.
May all be warm and safe.