Friday, November 14, 2008

The Other Sides Of Me

Living in peaceful co-existence with my aging hippie, rock and roll persona is another side of me. It is the deeper, more contemplative, introspective part of me. I don't know why I am the way I am. I do believe I have a personality inclined to be a reflective person and a spiritual seeker. Having said this, I am not nearly as religious or holy as some might imagine. Although I was a very religious child, most of my adult life I have been stumbling along the spiritual path that life has laid before me. I can still remember the moment in time when I had my first true spiritual awakening. I was about twenty years old. I was in Cincinnati the morning after attending a rock concert at a place called Ludlow's Garage. I was sitting in a McDonald's across the street from a Catholic church having a cup of coffee. At this time in my life I was at the peak of my youthful hippie experience and I was often in a drug induced haze. This particular morning as I was looking out the window of McDonald's, I could see people coming out of church and in the midst of them was a Franciscan Friar in his brown robes joyfully walking, and nearly bouncing, along the sidewalk. At that moment I felt like I was experiencing a spiritual awakening. Going forward, God seemed to be chasing me day and night. When I could no longer resist the call, I joined a Franciscan community at a place called Duns Scotus College just outside Detroit, Michigan. This was the beginning of a journey that eventually led me to the monastery at Gethsemani. Even though I later determined that spending the rest of my life as a monk was not for me, since that time I have been on a continuous spiritual quest. So, like most people, there are many sides to who I am. I am the fun loving, aging hippie, rock and roller. I am also the family man among other things, i.e., husband, father, son, brother, father in law, friend, and Pa Paw. I don't claim to be great at any of these roles except for being Chloe's Pa Paw and some people's friend. I think I do a pretty good job being a Pa Paw and being a friend to those who choose me as a friend. The glue that holds it all together is the spiritual me that strives to be open to the deeper realities of life, the moments of wonder and awe, and the unity of all things within me. I don't know where life will continue to take me but I will strive to stay on my path and listen for the voice that calls me forward.
Sakka asked the Buddha: "Do different religious teachers head for the same goal or practice the same disciplines or aspire to the same thing?" "No, Sakka, they do not. And why? This world is made up of myriad different states of being, and people adhere to one or another of these states and become tenaciously possessive of them, saying, 'This alone is true, everything else is false.' It is like a territory that they believe is theirs. So all religious teachers do not teach the same goal or the same discipline, nor do they aspire to the same thing."But if you find truth in any religion or philosophy, then accept that truth without prejudice."
-Digha Nikaya
From "The Pocket Buddha Reader," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Boston,

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