Posted in interfaith

Buddhism and Religion (Video)

This is a live video I did  in the Tattooed Buddha Community Group.

I encourage you to join that group, which you can get to here:
Tattooed Buddha Community

I explored questions about whether a Christian can practice Buddhism, among other things.

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Posted in interfaith, Uncategorized

All Places Are Sacred

I noticed the small Ganesh statue behind the counter as I was purchasing a six pack of Hard Orange Cream Ale. The statue was pink and enclosed in glass, as little statues of this kind sometimes are. I thought he appeared to have a beatific smile, but who the hell can tell if an elephant is smiling? Not me. The Remover of Obstacles wasn’t facing the customers, it wasn’t there for all to see. It was there for the man working behind the counter to look at.

And it was very small. It certainly escaped the notice of most patrons. I only noticed it because I notice iconography and spiritual things. That’s when I realized that the Indian man who runs the liquor store in my neighborhood is a Hindu. Not a surprise at all, of course. But it just served as a big reminder to me that spirituality exists everywhere.

People tend to think that spirituality only exists in sacred places. Those of us who are paying attention, the mystics, see it everywhere. There’s a metaphor we talk about in Buddhism sometimes. It’s called “Indra’s Net”. It’s an infinitely vast net filled with jewels. Each of the jewels not only reflects all of the other jewels. This represents the interconnectedness of all things. Every jewel reflects every other jewel. There is no separation. We are the same. You and I reflect each other. We are not separate from one another in any meaningful way.

Why did I mention this?

The description of Indra’s net tells us that everything is connected. Not just temples and sacred spaces. Everything is connected and everywhere is a sacred space.

More importantly, our spiritual practice doesn’t just exist in the temple and on the cushion. Our engagement must be in all of our lives.

I think that’s why even when he’s in what might be the least sacred space he goes to, that Indian man has a little sacred figure displayed. Because sacredness and spirituality exist everywhere, not just where we expect them. The mystic’s journey doesn’t exist just at specific places and times. The mystic’s journey is ongoing.

The world is my temple.

Posted in interfaith, Uncategorized

My Friend Krishna

Krishna was a nice old Indian man. He was always in a good mood and very pleasant to be around. He was very nice.

He sat next to me at work for two years and he talked to me every single day.

I think a lot of the time we don’t really think of the people we work with as having a big part in our lives.

I’m not sure it’s right to call us close or even friends, really. But he passed away and I am feeling the loss. Now that desk to my left at work is empty.

I remember the first time we talked. Two years ago he asked me if I was a Buddhist. Everyone knows that I am. I’m as “out of the meditation closet” as you can be. I have Buddhist tattoos. Everyone knows I’m a Buddhist and that it’s a big part of my life.

I told him that I am a Buddhist. He asked if I have a temple that I go to and I told him about the Rime Center.  He told me that he attends the Hindu temple in Shawnee, which I had actually visited that same year.

He told me he was  Hindu. He had been raised in Hinduism and he was really interested in talking about spirituality with me. He didn’t know much about Buddhism, but he really like discussing where our beliefs intersected.

There was one other thing.

He asked me about the Dalai Lama’s health. Really he asked if the Dalai Lama’s health was a big concern, something people were worried about.

I said, “Well, I know he’s been having health problems for years now. I don’t know if he will die soon, but he is in his late 70s…so, you know…” (the Dalai Lama is 81 at the time of this writing. )

Krishna just laughed and said, “I’m in my late 70s. What do you mean?”

So, that was embarrassing. But, luckily he was such a positive thinking person that he didn’t get offended at all.

I was clueless. I have trouble realizing how old people are sometimes.

It was a rude thing to say anyway, but I believe in being completely open and honest here. I hope the Dalai Lama lives for many more years.

Anyway, I sat by Krishna for 2 years. We talked about spirituality a lot.

Some of you reading this may not be aware that Hinduism and Buddhism have the same roots and they have a lot of similarities. He thought talking to me was interesting.

Earlier this year he asked me to tell him how to meditate. This was surreal. He had been raised as a Hindu. He had been practicing Hinduism for much longer than I had even been alive. And Hinduism is a meditative religion, just like Buddhism is.

There something we don’t always realize here in the west. There are plenty of people who were raised in Hinduism and Buddhism that don’t meditate, that don’t even know how.

That sounds weird, until we think about how many people raised in Christianity don’t pray or study the Bible. Plenty of them, right?

Anyway, I taught him how to practice breathing meditation. I guess at the temple he went to there was a lot of chanting and bowing, but not all that much meditation instruction.

Last week he told me he wanted to learn more about Buddhism. He asked me to bring a book in, something he could read and get through pretty fast, something simple. A lot of people ask me to recommend books. This is not a big deal.

I did bring in a book for him. I brought it in last week. But I never had the opportunity to give it to him. He never came to work again. And he passed away over the weekend.

He lived a full life and he died surrounded by his loved ones. His death was not a big surprise. He had been struggling with his health for a while.

It occurred to me that if my own father hadn’t passed away 21 years ago, he’d be the same age as Krishna.

Krishna was a wonderful man and my heart is with his family today.