I think I’m turning Japanese

For all of those who don’t remember this song from the 80’s, I apologize. But as I thought about this post, it just came to mind. The evolution that is currently taking place in my own spiritual journey might seem equally as odd as saying that I am turning Japanese. But it actually feels like a very natural progression.

I have been a student of the Buddha’s teachings for approximately sixteen years now. And I unquestionably would not be where I am today without that dhamma. Words cannot express the gratitude and respect I have for the teachings and the monastics who tirelessly devote their lives to sharing this with others. And one of the things that was clearly taught to me has been that the teachings are like a raft. There will be a time to let go, and that time for me has come.

I have found that letting go also falls beautifully in line with the teachings of non-attachment and impermanence. And clinging to anything, including Buddhism, is just as dogmatic as anything else. I have no permanent self or permanent mind. Every cell is changing constantly a thousand times per breath. And like the flow of a river, I am where I am supposed to be right now.

This evolution has come about as my understanding of this life, all living things, and great compassion. That the middle path does not mean that a little lying, stealing, drugs or alcohol, are acceptable. And if I am to continue to purify my own heart and mind, it must be with a deeper sense of connectedness. This means, as my friend Gary once said, that all of nature is my temple and sangha (community).

I now begin my journey in learning what the great teacher Mahavira taught approximately 100 years before the Buddha’s life. Followers of his teaching are considered Jains. Jainism is extremely identical in teachings, with a few minor or major exceptions (depending on your viewpoint). One such difference is that Jainism believes in God, but not as a creator or supreme being. God exists in all of us, in all living beings. Oddly enough, back when I was a young boy attending Catholic Grade School, I had this very same thought. It just didn’t make sense to me that God was separate from us.
In addition, as much as Buddhist teachings infer to do no harm, most Buddhist’s (including monastics) feel that eating animals is acceptable. Whereas in Jainism, it is clear that we should all be mindful of all life and do as little harm as humanly possible. Eating vegetables with reverence and gratitude and understanding that it those are a necessity to sustain our own bodies. And clearly, killing living beings is not necessary to our survival as human beings.

So off I go into the next phase of my adventure. Wish me luck, and I hope you will stay tuned. My love and blessings to each of you.