Sunday, March 1, 2009

Letter of the Law

My Dearest Friend,

Thank you.

I feel truly fortunate to have someone who cares so much about my life. Many people do not have anyone to care about them so I know I have done some things right.

As you can see I did not attend the planning meeting. I'm sure there will be several more to re-plan the plans and so forth. I do not intend to attend any of those either. If my schedule permits me to attend the upcoming Women's meeting I will.

I was glad I made the effort to come to New Year's Day gongyo, Hearing the young man's experience was inspirational. But everything else was the standard nonsense, I’ve been complaining about. As always there was the, “we’ve got a bunch of new members woo hoo” portion of the meeting! Followed by the “we’ve got a bunch of new leaders woo hoo” portion. Then on to the, “we are the #1 zone woo hoo” portion. But there was NO BUDDHISM.

If I was a guest there for the first time I'd be thinking OK, cool but where's the friggin Buddhism? What do I do when I go home…or next week… or the week after that? And what is it that made that young man so persuaded to chant everyday for hours and hours?

Please do not feel there is anything you need to do. That's just the way it is for me for now. And it's been that way for a while.

As far as my belief in the Gohonzon, that has always been in question. The only thing different now is that I feel the need to speak about it, whereas before I was simply wondering when the switch would flip and I would become as seemingly attached to it as I see others appear to be.

Frankly, the whole idea of a piece of paper kept safely inside an elaborate box having any special power to influence my life never passed the smell test with me. But when in Rome you do what the Romans do. The Gohonzon to me has been used as a focus point for chanting. I look at it and at times it becomes like an optical illusion that gives me an idea about a particular action to take.

Maybe that's what it's supposed to do. But I get the feeling some people feel that it's a little paper god with some special wish granting power. If that's what you mean, no I don't believe any of that. But I've also gotten ideas about some action to take while chanting and looking at the sunrise or chanting while sitting with my eyes closed.

Here are some of the things I do believe beyond a doubt. I believe in the laws of Cause and Effect. I believe in the laws if Karma. I believe in the power of Prayer. And I believe prayer is not limited to four words.

I also believe if you apply the same tenacity to your job search as you are applying to saving me from whatever it is you believe happens when Buddhists turn rogue and begin to question the organization, that you will be offered the best position of this lifetime!

I don't want this to become a debate of wits for you and I especially. I hope to think regardless of whatever our respective beliefs are we will remain friends. I truly consider you to be my friend. I hope I am yours too.

I also truly believe in Buddhism, both in theory and in practice. Unfortunately the things I see happening repeatedly within our community of practioners are not examples of what I feel is truly Buddhism and the irony is that it is this very community of practioners who profess so fervently that they are the only holders of what is TRUE Buddhism. It reminds me of Christians when they tell you that anyone who does not believe in Jesus and confess that he is their lord and savior is destined to spend eternity in hell (whatever that is).

For reasons I do not completely understand it is in my karma that I have experiences which cause me to question the organization to the point of leaving – sulk for a few years – return to give them another look – then remember why I left the last time and swear to never return. I did not practice for 16 years when this happened the last time. Since I've been back I've had many, many times when I just looked around the room at a meeting and thought these people are all nuts! But determined to not miss the lesson this time I continued to show up. I continued to study. I continued to share the practice with others.

Now once again I'm at that point again only now I can no longer shake off my feelings as simply having a low life condition, or as the king devil getting hold of me because I'm so strong and it's his mission to keep me from fighting for kosen rufu. I don’t have another spare 16 years unopened on a shelf in my cupboard this time. No more kool-aid please!

And by kool-aid I mean I cannot continue to try to believe that all that is Buddhism can be reduced to what one will find in the carefully selected books available in the community of practioner’s bookstore. I believe there is more and I am on the quest for it.

For example, the essay I sent you to read and asked for your opinion. The essay had nothing to do with a Buddhist practice. The essay merely listed some good and clear ideas for world peace plans. You offered me no commentary on the ideas other than to tell me how the community of practioner’s president has been working for peace long before the author of the essay considered peace.

((((Sighing in frustration))))

Still I thank you,


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