I met Lama Tsulku Tsori Rinpoche yesterday. What a great blessing! I feel such an infusion of positive energy, and this is just the time I needed it. There are some difficult, painful things happening in my life and within my church (which happens to be Christian) right now, and he gave me such a boost. I felt as peaceful as I have ever felt in my life. Perfect peace! This will be so important to remember when my mind gets stirred up about something, and my emotions, which happens every day!
I really felt a great letdown when I was leaving. The first impulse was to think, well, back to my regular life with all its problems. Nothing has changed. Or has it? Yes, I feel a profound effect from my encounter with this sacred person.
I remember feeling that way when I would go to Catholic church Mass with my best friend, Pam, and her family, when I was in high school. I loved the connection with this deep beauty and divinity in church, and the way people would come together for worship. There, all things were possible. But I would return home, to my family's broken relationships and disconnections from one another, and it would all seem even sadder. I couldn't keep that loving spirit going, I was not strong enough.
Well, I in myself am still not strong enough to keep the love going. However, I can tap into the amazing power of two beautiful communities now. One, being the Father-Son-Holy Spirit community of faith; the other, the Sangha (beloved community) of the Buddha (also called the triple jewels -- don't ask me to explain, because I don't know what it refers to, but it sounds beautiful).
Lama Tsulku Rinpoche was less than pleased, it seemed, that I identify myself as a Christian. Or, at least, he was quite clear that he did not want me to consider taking refuge vows while identifying myself as a Christian. He said this would be too confusing to the human mind, to have two such different traditions. That is all good because it's too soon for me to decide about refuge vows. Even though, I must say, I do take refuge in the Buddha, in the Dharma, and in the Sangha, already! That is a perfect word for what the practice brings to me. However, I really need to study it more diligently before I could truly claim it as my own.
Of course, I must credit great wisdom to the lama's statement that I must choose one way or the other. However, I had the immediate impulse to argue with him! Imagine, me arguing with a great lama, what a travesty that would be. Besides, one I had just met. I clamped my mouth shut, with difficulty, and let my mind just absorb that the information I had just heard was not what my mind had anticipated, nor desired.
Upon reflection -- I am aware that as ignorant as I am of Buddhism, it might be that this great lama, who I honor for being at a much higher spiritual level than I -- that he similarly has a level of ignorance of Christianity, which is clearly not his path. He showed a stern side when he said, Buddhists do not go knocking on any doors, trying to convert anyone. (Unlike Christians.)
Yes, that is true, and the evangelistic aspect of my faith bothers me, as well. It seems a perversion of the unconditional love that Jesus preached. How can you unconditionally love if you believe that someone requires conversion to just the same views as you, or else they are in error and you are correct? They automatically fall in standing below you then. And look at all the awful things the Christian churches have done, and continue to do, in the world! It is shameful and embarrassing. Yes, they also do good works. Well, thank God for that, eh? It hardly seems to make up for all the terrible evils that have been perpetrated through the centuries in the name of the Church.
It seems that Buddhism is a more selective society, although many people are born into it. People in the west must choose it, and it is not a broad cross-section of humanity here the way Christian churches tend to be.
You can see my heart is still divided over my two great loves, Christianity and Buddhism. But I am feeling a path taking shape that gives me great peace. I do not need to feel a conflict with the two, because I do not believe there is a true conflict. I believe the two paths converge. It is a beautiful mystery, I know. It is like comparing human beings, comparing Christianity and Buddhism. We all are unique and have our beautiful traditions. We also have human failings and warts that tend to creep into our religious practice, no matter how hard we try to keep them out. But we humans are part of one family, as diverse as it is. Our religions share a foundation in this human family, so I believe they have far more in common than some would wish to believe.
I continue to choose the path of unity, while honoring our diverse human natures and our separate expressions of religious practice. May all beings find happiness! God bless Lama Tsulku Tsori Rinpoche and keep him in good health, able to continue his great works spreading peace and hope throughout the world.
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