Sunday, August 14, 2005

Coincidence? Who cares!

I've taken quite an interest in Buddhism lately. Dunno yet if this will be a long-term thing for me, or if it's just another one of my tangents. But so far, it really looks like it could stick.

While I was in the public library about 3 weeks ago, I was just browsing the religion/philosophy section. I happened upon a book called Beginning Mindfulness: Learning the Way of Awareness by Andrew Weiss. It looked interesting, and I had a bit of time on my hands, so I picked it up and took it over to the reading area to have a look at the intro. It is a sorta 10 week guide to meditation. I've been interested in meditation before but never had very good guidance. So I decided to give it a try and checked the book out. Anyway, this was the start (and least I can mark it as a starting point . . .)

Much of the stuff in the book comes from a a Vietnamese Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. I'd not heard of him before (or so I thought) had a bit of trouble with the name because I had no clue how it should be pronouced. Anyway, while I was sitting in the hospital with only my Aunt Dee and Uncle Harvey in the room (see my previous post), Dee was talking a bit about her spiritual leanings and such and made a comment that a friend of her's had said that maybe she's a Buddhist and didn't know it. At this point I commented also that I'd been thinking the same of my self (at this point I'd been reading BM and following the instruction for a couple weeks). Then Harvey mentioned something about Thich Nhat Hanh and a book he was reading by him called Living Buddha, Living Christ. The name recognition got my attention--I'd heard of the book but never paid attention to who wrote it.

On Saturday the family was all over at Grampa's house. Probably due to the previous conversation, Dee brought a book she had (actually a compilation of sorts) by Thich Nhat Hanh to show to Harvey. I was interested and asked if I could borrow it for a few days and she said that I could.

Anyway, now I'm finally getting to the interesting coincidence that I mentioned in the title. This morning I was reading a bit of the book that I borrowed--a section called something like "call me by my real name." I was very touched by it--I'll post more about it later--and sorta got the urge to go to the Unitarian Church that I'd not been to for a couple months. I supposed I just decided I wanted to go to a church, and that was the only one that I had any desire whatsoever to go to. I didn't even look up what the sermon would be about before I left, like I usually do.

When I entered the sanctuary, I accepted a hymnal and order of service, and sat down to look over the order of service. I was rather amazed by what I saw. The readings were all from Thich Nhat Hanh! A couple of them were even ones that I'd read from the book. Now, it's nothing unusual in this church for the readings to be taken from the writings of a Buddhist monk. But the timing of it, and the idea that I had just gotten the urge to go after reading stuff from the same monk.

This may be an exceptionally odd thing for an atheist like me to say, but do you ever just get the feeling you are being led?


James said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
"James" said...

If you are really interested in Buddhism I would suggest the following book: "Buddhism Is Not What You Think: Finding Freedom Beyond Beliefs" by Steve Hagen.

Reading Thich Nhat Hanh as well is great. He is perhaps the best Buddhist teacher that I have read. Zen Buddhism in the style of Thich Nhat Hanh is beautiful because it is pure, simple and without much dogma. As for meditation? It has helped me stay sane. I am a much more relaxed person now.

I think you'll find Buddhism to be a very honest path.

Glad you stopped by my blog. Feel free to ask me any questions about Buddhism and I'll do my best to answer them.

Contemplative Activist said...

Thich Nhat Hanh is an excellent author and very insightful. I have read 'Living Buddha, Living Christ' and another book entitled, 'Coming Home, Jesus and Buddha as Brothers'. His insights into Christianity are very enlightening and astute. He is excellent!

I also found Jim Pym who is a British Quaker-Buddhist to be an interesting author. I read his book 'Listening to the Light' because I wanted to find out more about Quakerism. Occasionally I found his style a little patronising, but overall it contained excellent ideas and ultimately reading it prompted me to join our local Quaker meeting so it obviously had some impact ;)

I'll have to look into Buddhist Blogger's recommendation!

kAgE said...

i haven't read this guy's books or anything but by the sounds of it, this buddhist person is either trying to make everything acceptable, which will obviously be good for athiests.... or he might just be quite plain positive about a lot of things......

I wonder why the first comment was erased too.....

anyhow.... believing in a religion is something you have to decide that you believe in whole, in full....... so if buddhism's your way, then you should probably go read some more :)

Mikayla Starstuff said...

Hum. . . this is the first time I've noticed that erased comment.
Anyway, I have been reading quite a lot on Buddhism, especially stuff by Thich Nhat Hanh. One book I've been reading is called Living Buddha, Living Christ. He never says that Buddhism and Christianity are the same (which would be absurd, IMHO). Most of what he says about Jesus would be considered heretical in the church I grew up in--and he even makes note that some of what he says is contrary to orthodox Christian teachings. But he also makes a point that a lot of the stuff in Buddhism is consistant with the teachings of Jesus. For example, loving your enemies makes a lot more sense in the context of developing a mindful understanding of their suffering and why they act the way they do. Hanh is *all about* mindfulness. And in context of his peace efforts and the suffering he's seen in Vietnam, I think he deserves a hearing on the topic of loving one's enemies.

Anyway, I'll admit that a great deal of what he says about Christiantiy is light years away from the Christianity I grew up it. But it also makes a good deal more sense to me.

Also, Buddhism is not something I've committed to just yet. I'm just exploring, and practicing meditation and mindfulness the way the Hanh taught it. It is having a great effect on my life and state of mind. Even if I don't take Buddhism in whole, I think I'll hold on to that bit :)

Mikayla Starstuff said...

Oh, and to buddhist blogger-
I actually have read a book by Steve Hagen called Buddhism Plain and Simple. He helped prevent me from being turned away by some of the mystical elements in other books I've read . . . Good stuff.