Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Visit to a Buddhist Temple in AZ

I have a good friend named Julie whose late father is Japanese. Her mother attends the local Buddhist temple on a regular basis and Julie and I decided a couple of weeks ago to expose our kids to some different churches around town. I really enjoyed visiting that temple, and I enjoyed New Vision.

The Sunday before Christmas we went to New Vision church, and the message there was a Christmas message. It talked about how Santa could be viewed as a symbol of generosity. The Reverend said that the more spiritually in touch one becomes, the more they have to give, and the more generous they are. She also talked about the elves. Elves are the helpers who do the work. Ideally we have a bit of Santa and elf in us.

Last week we went to the Buddhist Temple. The Buddhist message was "I am you and you are I". This speaks to the oneness of all people. We are all one, and when we harm another we harm ourselves. I sort of get it. This is a difficult concept to wrap yourself around. The natural tendency is to think, "What? How can I be you? I have a separate body, you have traits about you that are not me, etc." I admit that I am still working on this, because I don't completely get what Buddha means by all this. I do understand the concept of loving other people unconditionally. I will continue to work on this one.

There was one thing I did notice about Buddhist people that was related to the service I had heard at New Vision the week before. It was their generosity that I noticed. The potluck dinner that was held after the service to say goodbye to their current priest was phenomenal. I have never seen so much food, and most of it was homemade. Tons of food. People brought more than they needed to. Some people go to potlucks and they don't bring enough really. They have several family members and they just bring one medium-sized item. In other words they bring less than what their group will consume. My observation was that Buddhist people bring more than they will consume, because they want to make sure everyone gets some. There is a sweetness about that. I think this may be one way that demonstrates what it means that "I am you, you are I". I'm still learning.

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