bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Category: funny

don’t. yes. wait, stop. okay, go.

I’m going to apologize for this post before we even get started.  So.  Sorry.  But I chortled and snarked all the way through.  Maybe a bit of an Andy-Rooney-meets-George-Carlin moment for me.

I was in my bathroom getting ready this morning, examining the silver hairs streaking through my locks and thinking about expectations.  A lot of my friends (and one extremely close family member in particular whom I worship and adore) would look at me in this slowly-advancing state of salt-and-pepper and use the word, “hag.”  Besides the silvers (they’re not grey, they’re silver), my hair is probably a little too long. A little too frizzy.  Oh, I could take the time to blow dry, grease it with Moroccan Oil, dye it back to its original monotone chestnut color, but I’m not sure I care.  Anna Wintour says that any woman of a certain age should cut her hair above her shoulders.  Hmmmm…  yah, no.

thanks, DD, for a nice, demonstrative pic of my hag hair 😉

There are lots of rules like Ms. Wintour’s here in America – social norms we call them, if I’m remembering the term from 11th grade Sociology correctly.  Don’t wear white between Labor Day and Memorial Day.  Don’t eat on public transit.  Greet people with one kiss on the right cheek (unless you are a New Yorker who pretends to be a European, then you deliver one kiss on each cheek while scanning for other more important friends in the room).  Do not invade a stranger’s 18 inch bubble.  Get married before you make babies.  Hold your tongue in an elevator.  Tip anyone in the service industry.  Etc, etc, etc.

And then there’s the cursing.  Oh, the cursing.

I know there are social rules about cursing, but I still go back and forth on how I feel about it.  Those who read my blog faithfully are familiar with my ease at dropping eff bombs.  Writing for me is a passionate release, a focused meditation – and often times my fingers fly over the keyboard so quickly that I barely know what I’m writing until I’m done.  If a few unclassified words end up in the mix, who am I to edit them?

Plus.  In real life, I quite enjoy the eff word.  I use it occasionally.  Maybe too occasionally.  But I don’t place any verbal value on it, except as a non-verbal verbal that lets people know that I am flawed.  (Though most wouldn’t need four letter word to see that.)

And then there’s always pressure to stifle the cursing in front of the kids.  Tell me.  When it comes to parenting, what is right?  Apologize for letting “shit” escape in front of the kids?  Don’t apologize for letting “shit” escape in front of the kids.  (Maybe they didn’t notice???)  Is hell a cuss or a place?  Is ass a donkey or a bum?  Is fart okay?  What about penis and vagina?  I think they’re good.  But not in school.  Boobs?  Butt?  Shut up?  How ’bout the modern alternative – Shut it?  Is it okay that my 7 year old knows all the words to “I’m Sexy and I Know It”?  Is it okay that my 5 year old sings “Red Solo Cup” and that I think it’s kind of funny when she says, “And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glasses.”  (I mean, she’s almost 6, really, but that’s still pretty bad, right?)

I actually spend time pondering the spiritual repercussions of cursing.  Oh, yes, I do.  I mean, it’s about 49th on my list of priorities, squeaking in just after emptying my mom’s dog’s anal sacks, but the spiritual questions are there.

Is cursing an unmindful form of communication?  Is cursing offensive?  Yes, I suppose it is.  But why?  I guess I know why, but is it because God cares?  When I splatter searing hot bacon grease on my bare arm and shout, “JESUS!” does Jesus give a shit, ahem, I mean give a damn, ahem, I mean give a rat’s ass… oh whatever.  You know what I mean.  But really.  Does he?  And does he / He / HE care if I capitalize or not?  Honestly, I’m thinking no.  And if, by some small chance, I’m right and God doesn’t care, why do some people care so much?

(Whew!  Tangent.)

But, like I said, it’s not just cursing, it’s everything.  There are hundreds of social norms that differ greatly from culture to culture.  Wave with the back of your hand in Greece, cover your shoulders in Morocco, don’t be American in England, take off your shoes upon entering a house in Japan, wear thongs on the beach and bikinis to the grocery store in Brazil, wash your poopy bum with a communal bar of soap but only with your left hand in India, don’t write in red ink in China, stare at people past the point of awkwardness then let your dirty white lap dog eat off your plate in France.  What is acceptable changes so vastly from country to country, it just makes me laugh.  Because it’s all so funny, isn’t it?  All these rules about living.

The rules are all so particular.  And peculiar.  Are these socially acceptable (and unacceptable) behaviors cast offs from religious orders?

Don’t eat meat.
Don’t eat meat with milk.
Don’t eat meat with milk on Fridays before sunset on the fourth night of a Harvest Moon.
Sit cross-legged with your hands open on your lap.
Sit with your middle fingers touching your thumbs.  No, your index fingers.
Don’t sit.  Lay down.  Or stand up walk.  Just shut up and be quiet.
Wear an orange robe and only an orange robe.
Shave your head.  Let one piece grow.  Let two curls grow.  Let one long hair on your face grow.
Don’t cut your hair.  Don’t cut your beard.  Now hide it all in a turban.
Hide your hair, hide your shoulders, hide your ankles.  You know what?  Just hide your whole face.
Kneel down, stand up, cross yourself, repeat after me, say it again, say it again, one more time, say it again.
Eat this dry cracker.
Now return to your pew and continue with your dozing off.

Who made these rules anyway?  (Men.)  But seriously, who?  (Old men.)  Really, though.  We judge others so harshly when they don’t abide by the rules.  Meanwhile, the most important rules are often ignored – BE KIND, BE PATIENT, BE HONEST, BE HERE NOW.

Well.  Now that I have thought and pondered and assessed and analyzed the things we humans do and why we do the things we do, I have to go explain to my kids why they can’t say “fart” in the classroom.

From mine to yours,
Vanessa
*Reposted from my June 8, 2012 entry on Everything Old is New Age Again

advice on dealing with difficult people: watch this. it’s fantastic.

My sweet sweet friend DM introduced me to a new teacher this morning:  Ajahn Brahm.  Enjoy this is a fantastic sermon about solutions to dealing with difficult people.  If you’re short on time but would like to enjoy a powerful lesson, fast forward to 12:45. the story will take about 15 minutes.  This is a great one to share with kids, too!  Have them watch and learn about how to deal with bullies in school or challenging teachers and coaches.

We do have a responsibility to help others, don’t we?  People aren’t born assholes.  They become assholes.  This means that they can become kind-hearted, too.  Let’s make our relationships more peaceful by spreading kindness and giving our children tools that can allow them to do the same.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

with each breath we have an opportunity to start over

I love this concept:  the idea that with each and every breath there is a fresh opportunity to propel our lives in a new direction.  Just think.  We get to start over thousands of times  a day.  I apply this breath work to my eating habits – I’m a chocoholic and struggle with my will to hold back.  I know all too well that my body is a temple; I therefore have a very important responsibility to take care of it through proper diet, exercise and meditation.  That said, I woke up this morning and had my breakfast:

It’s bad, I know.  It was left over from a Saturday night campfire, complete with s’mores, and somehow at 8am this bar of junky chocolate was completely irresistible.  But, like I said, I know that every breath is a shot at a new beginning.  So I made a healthy choice for lunch:

And then came dessert:

Yep.  Looks like I’ll be starting over again tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” 
Meister Eckhart

a new contender in the race for the oval office?

barak?

mitt?

who do you like?

my social views are very liberal, so i lean democrat.  but if a quality moderate republican comes along i’ll swing my vote in the other direction.

my greatest concern has always been social policy.  don’t take our rights away, that’s all i ask.  live free or die, baby.  the issue closest to my heart is gay rights, which should be re-termed “human rights”, because love is a basic human right.  who we love and how we display commitment has absolutely nothing to do with government, federal or state.  my quick story today is spun from this idea.

when we were kids, my sisters and i played house a lot.  one girl would be the mommy, one girl would be the baby and one girl would get stuck being the daddy.  you might as well tell that poor girl to go clean out the garage while the others play.  for a girl, being the daddy sucked.  so every time my daughters play house with their friends, they inevitably start squabbling, “not fair!  i want to be the mommy!”  and inevitably, my girls realize, “it’s okay.  girls can marry each other.  let’s both be mommies.  yay!”

it’s such a simple act of imagination.  but it’s also a beautiful act of acceptance.  kids today provide me with an extraordinary feeling of hope for our future and pride in this generation of parents who are rearing children to be open and accepting of others as they have been created.

with this in mind, i see clearly that the man in the oval office may wield power over current domestic  policy, but the future of this country lies in the hands of a new generation.  the tides are changing, people.  the emerging generation is aware.  they are awake.  they are becoming mindful.  they are innovative.  they are compassionate and sensitive.  they are already changing the world.  and i have nothing but faith and confidence in these children.

this morning while i was making chocolate chip pancakes, my son XG, my 3 year old son, *3 YEAR OLD SON* said out of the blue, “mamma, did you know giwls can mawwy giwls?”  my husband MG and i looked at each other then looked back at him.

“that’s right, buddy,” said MG, waiting patiently to see where the conversation would go.

after a minute i said, “you are very smart, little man.”

“yup,” he said.  “boys can mawwy boys, too.  and batman defeats spidewman.”

well, that decides it.  XG gets my vote this november.  oh, and he gets an A+ on his acceptance and compassion lesson this week in buddha school.

from mine to yours,
vanessa
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temple tour: boston ‘burbs & beyond

Aside from the occasional Jew, or more likely half-Jew, you could consider most of New England downright religiously homogenous.  Unless lucky enough to belong to a diverse group of friends, in order to experience any other religious or cultural traditions, one would have to consciously seek out opportunities.  Put it this way, until this summer, Madame Tussaud’s was the closest I’d ever gotten to a Buddhist monk.  And here I am a budding Buddhist.

And it is here in homogenous white bread suburban Boston where I begin my search for a Buddhist community.  Oy vey.

For the past months, I’ve been interviewing monks and nuns, visiting temples and Zendos, trying to find a good fit for my family and me.  There are challenges involved, but I’m feeling confident that I’ll find a match…  pretty much.

First challenge:  geography.

It’s hard to find a family-friendly Buddhist center in the ‘burbs.  I have tracked down a Korean Zen center in the People’s Republic of Cambridge (surprise, surprise, what can’t one find in Cambridge), but the commute on Mass Ave is a friggin bear, even at 7am on Sunday morning.  There is a Japanese Zen center in Brookline, which would be a total pain in the ass to get to from metro north.  There’s actually a very conveniently located Buddhist temple in Lexington but Mandarin is mandatory in order to join, so screw that.  A Tibetan center is down the street in Arlington, on the near side of Mass Ave for me, a place which I’ll expand upon later in this post.  And Worcester boasts a Buddhist center… way out in Worcester…  west…  really west…  ummmmm…  yah, no.  Besides those mentioned, we have a few yoga studios that offer occasional guided medies and Buddha-y yoga sessions, but as far as I know, no lamas or masters on site.  So I’m hoping I’ll find a home with one of these temples and feel an energy match to one of these strands of Buddhism.

Second challenge: scheduling.

Temples are not like churches where the majority of worshippers gather on Sunday mornings and, for the most part, disappear for the rest of the week.  Buddhist centers offer daily meditation hours and dharma talks for adults.  (No kids, please.)  Sessions are typically offered in the evening, witching hours to be exact.  Not ideal for house frau with tiny faces to feed, scrub and send to bed.  But even thought it’s not ideal, I’m happy to make it happen.  I make time to do plenty of other things, and I will just need to tweak my schedie to work in this commitment – for me, the utmost commitment.

Third challenge:  language.

Part of Buddhist practice is chanting.  Depending on which style of Buddhism one choses, the chants can be in Japanese or Mandarin or Indian or Chinese…  pretty much any Asian language.  So when I am chanting, I am chanting in a language that sounds, to me, like this:  as;dfja@*isejfa#liaj sdfjasdiv!$mafjiodcfjds klc&^#mlskdan(vfa.  But that’s only a moderate setback, after all, like Woody Hochswender says in his book The Buddha in Your Mirror, “We do not need to know how an automobile works in order to use it to get somewhere.”  So I chant and I receive, knowing that the Universe understands everything, even if I don’t.

Challenges in mind, I set out on my mission to find a Buddhist center that will be a nice fit for my family.

The first center I visited isn’t actually a temple.  Cambridge Insight Meditation Center is just that – a meditation center, not to far from Harvard Square.  They practice Vinyasa meditation, which is rooted in stillness.  You got an itch?  Fuh-gettaboutit.  You can scratch that bad boy after the bell.  No, really, they’re not that strict at CIMC.  It’s actually a great place to meditate.  I visited a few times and enjoyed every experience.  The meditation room is simple and clean, located on the top floor of an old house.  A  trained teacher offers insight on one topic or another then guides the group through walking and sitting meditations.  Afterwards s/he takes questions.  The room has a beautiful energy and the experience is wonderful.  But it is not the complete temple experience that I’m seeking.

The second center I visited was the geographically desirable one in Arlington.  Drikung Meditation Center, just off Mass Ave near the library, is funky and warm feeling.  The practice is a Tibetan strand of Buddhism, the same dharma practiced by fan-favorite His Holiness The Dalai Lama.  On the day of my visit early this summer, I joined their practitioners on a peace walk.  During this walk, participants carried Buddhist scrolls to spread peaceful energy and bless the sick and suffering.  I was a late arrival so I wasn’t able to grab a scroll, but I yielded with the group and started chatting up a nun with a loosely shaved head and flowing crimson robe.   I’d tell you her name but I can’t remember it – I think it was something she made up when she became a nun.  I must have asked her a hundred questions, the first of which was, “Are we supposed to be quiet during this walk?”  Thankfully, the answer was no.

So I told her briefly about my homespun mini-Bu practice and she told me at length all of the things that I can still do while being a Buddhist.  The two most important of which were 1) eat meat, and 2) let my kids celebrate Christmas.  She actually giggled at the second question and said, “Who doesn’t love Buddha Claus?”  Very cute.  The stickiest thing that she shared with me is that Buddhism is a practice that can be layered on top of every other spiritual experience that I have had.  The journey is about me.  So there’s plenty of wiggle room while I explore.

Once we arrived at the center, it was very…  ummm…  homey.  It’s set up in a house, I don’t know whose, but someone must live there because just beyond the reception room there was a twin bed with rumpled sheets which had obviously been slept in the night before.  On the left as I entered I saw a gift shop slash Dalai Lama shrine.  The overall feeling of this small room was orange.  And rainbow.  And sparkly.  And Lama-y.  There were framed photographs of other lamas, too, but I didn’t know who they were.

Once I got past my initial assessment of the space, I took a few steps in where the resident lama (lama means teacher of dharma), was sprinkling blessed water into people’s hands.  I cupped my hand for my dose of holy water and searched out my nun buddy’s eyes for direction.  She discreetly told me that I should sip a little then pat my crown with my wet hand.  Unfortunately, by the time I received the instruction, there was only a little sweat left on my palm to drink (it was a hot day, ok?) so I licked my hand and patted my head with a grateful smile.

Another super friendly Buddha lady, whom I’d met on the road, invited me to join her in the library where food was being served: Ruffles (with ridges), bagels and some rainbow-colored wet-looking things.  The room was quiet and small.  The people standing around were physically very diverse.  Lots of different languages being spoken in hushed voices.  I stayed and pummeled the friendly Buddha lady with questions for a few minutes, mostly about what I do with my kids while we discuss dharma.  The answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear:  “Oh, they can color in the library, I guess, but we’re not really set up for kids.”  Eek.  I finally decided it was time to make an incredibly awkward exit.  “Wait, have something to eat before you go,” the friendly Buddha lady said.  I pinched a ridged chip and excused myself, weaving my way out of the temple, holding the chip between my index finger and thumb, professing my thanks to everyone I passed with a little lift of my Ruffle and bow of my head.

I left thinking, What the hell am I doing????

The next place I visited is a Zendo in White River Junction, Vermont.  Close to our family’s mountain retreat, I figured I might as well try a taste of Vermont’s Buddhist menu while I was vacationing up north this summer.  I made an appointment with a nice Zen teacher (almost master, long story) named Allyn at a Japanese Zendo situated in a basement office space beside the White River.  I arrived with my 3 year old son XG (the realities of motherhood), and was greeted with a warm handshake and welcoming smile.  Allyn was barefoot, dressed in a simple black robe.  This guy has the a great face.  Tightly cropped hair with bushy bushy eyebrows and deep, bright eyes.  His energy was that of chilllllllllllllll.  So we entered this space, a room equipped with two long benches topped with black cushions and a simple altar at center.  We settled in opposite each other while XG got cozy with a messy tube of strawberry yogurt on a pristine purple floor pillow.  Allyn’s fuzzy brows lifted high and he quickly wedged a napkin between XG and the pillow.   Did I mention how grateful I was that Allyn is so chillllllllllllllll?

We sat and talked for 90 minutes, discussing basics of Zen and some deeper ideas, too.  I asked a gazillion questions:  “When we walked into the Zendo, you bowed.  Who did you bow to?  [No one, really.]  How do you enter the space?  [Straight lines and right angles.]  How do you sit on these benches?  [Cross-legged, knees rooted toward the earth, neck long, crown to sky, hands on lap, palms up, gaze down.]  Where are the chanting books?  [Under the pillows.]  How do I drink Japanese tea?  [It’s complicated.  Better teach you that next time.]   To become Buddhist, do I have to be invited?  Do I go through a baptism of some sort?  [You should have a teacher.  But there’s no ceremony, you just are.  I don’t even know if I am.]”  He sort of chuckled and said I have a beginner’s mind.  I actually think he enjoyed my questions.  So basic.  Probably things he takes for granted now.  What I was really excited about was the fact that Allyn was interested in creating a children’s Zen program and open to accepting my brood.  Amen!  I mean, Om?  Okay, I’ve gotta work on that.

After many more questions and slightly embarrassing disciplinary dealings with XG, I thanked Allyn and he sent me off with the book Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind.  He had a feeling I’d be back to return it.  I have a feeling I’ll be back, too.  I really like Allyn and his Zendo.  I like the simplicity of Zen, the near absence of statues and photos.  I like the cleanness of it.  There are more centers to visit still, but I can already tell this one is vibing with me.

Since steering my covered wagon away from Christianity, I must say, I’ve felt like a feather in the wind.  I don’t belong anywhere and I don’t know where I’ll end up.  But feathers in the wind are alluring.  They’re free.  They’re full of potential.  And when you find them, you say, “Oh, look!  A feather!”  So I’m confident that I will find a place where I can learn to fly.  Come to think of it, floating in the wind already feels a lot like flying.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

p.s.  Please share this blog with other Bostonian Bu-curious.

noble eightfold path: act now and first 25 readers will receive FREE thoughts on suffering!

Mr. Modern Invention, that tricky bastard, makes us believe that suffering is an easy fix.  Countless gadgets have been delivered to us so that we will never be hungry, never be bored, never be lonely, lost, dirty or without a pre-recorded fart sound (yes, there’s an app for that).  We employ all of these material and virtual inventions, wondering how we ever survived without them; and still, we suffer.

Why is that?  I mean, with all of these gadgets, shouldn’t life be perfect?  Or at least be close to it?  Life should at least be sort of easy, right?

But it’s not.

It’s not.

Life is not easy.

And no matter what the next latest-greatest promises, life will not become easier once we invest in it.  The end of suffering is not available in stores.  The end of suffering is available only deep inside ourselves.  And once we think we find the end to suffering, we must continue to practice through dedication and self discovery.  We don’t stop practicing once we find a shiny happy moment of peace.  The moment will pass and another opportunity for growth through suffering will present itself.  Because life changes at such a pace that the ways we suffer change constantly, too.

Buddhism offers a practical Eightfold Path to the end of suffering.  It doesn’t contaminate the earth, stress you out, make you fat or cause break-outs of any kind.  Oh, and it’s free.  Yah, baby.  Remember those Four Noble Truths we learned about?  Well, this is that path eluded to in the fourth truth, which is broken down into three parts:  Wisdom, Ethical Conduct and Mental Development.  Here are the eight pieces…

  1. Right View, understanding that in 300 years we’ll be dust so keep things in perspective
  2. Right Intention, controlling the way we think about ourselves and others through mindfulness
  3. Right Speech, thinking before we speak and refraining from gossip or harsh language (ouch), being truthful, kind and helpful with the words we choose
  4. Right Action, doing the right thing and living wholesomely
  5. Right Livelihood, earning an ethical living that doesn’t conflict with our values or harm the planet
  6. Right Effort, consciously directing our lives toward transformation by finding a balance between life’s activities and a disciplined meditative practice
  7. Right Mindfulness, living in the here and now through experiencing physical sensations, emotions, thoughts and attitudes
  8. Right Concentration, being absorbed by one thought, also called one-pointedness; it’s a doozy

The Buddhas dying words are these:  “Look not for refuge to anyone beside yourself.”

The machines, the services, the computers, the gurus…  they are convenient or they are distracting.  But they are not the end to suffering.  You are.  It just takes practice.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

p.s.  Don’t forget to share with your Bu-curious friends!  Read more by Vanessa at Everything Old is New Age Again.

bu-curious word of the day

In my spiritual-not-religious days, I remember reading a whole bunch of arma-asha-assina eastern religion blabitty-blab-vocab in my books and yoga mags.  I read the words over and over again, trying to commit them to memory, but nothing would stick.  I decided that a whole bunch of yogi words, when jumbled together, sound exactly the same.  And they all start with D, S or V.  It’s impossible to keep them straight.  I encountered arma-asha-assina over and over again in books and pamphlets and websites, but still, I could not decipher one from the next or remember what they meant.  I started highlighting and post-it-noting the words in books.  STILL, nothing.   But I want to learn.  I won’t give up.  So let’s do this together.  One word at a time.  We’ll start simple.

Doesn’t get much more basic than this, Bu-curious word of the day is dharma.

DHARMA:  Pronounced “darma”.  Simply put, dharma is law.  But it is so much more.  It is pure and divine truth, the divine order of the universe, the central teaching of the Buddha.

Feel free to use it in a sentence today.  If you’re feeling crazy, share that sentence here.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

p.s.

Please share this with your favorite Bu-curious friends.  Tweet, Tumbl, Pin, Facebook.  Help a sister out!

here i go again

Image

While the title of this journal entry may induce memories of a classic hair band song (cue Whitesnake circa 1987), this post does not serve as an introduction to a blog about Aqua Net and David Coverdale.  No, in fact, it’s Day #1 of a fresh new story:  Bringing up Buddhas, or at least trying to bring up Buddhas, after all this family is very much a transition in progress.

So here is the oh-so-awkward first entry.  The getting-to-know you page.  I’d really prefer just to jump right into the fun stuff, but it’s important to set the tone of the blog and declare my intentions.  Yes, everything must be done with intention.  Let’s do it…

The pages of this blog will document the real-time spiritual evolution of a my family as we transition from Christianity to Buddhism.  We are a family of 7:  My husband, who is not sure he is down with this whole thing but thinks Buddha rocks; my step-daughter, who is away at college and doesn’t have to deal with any of this; my almost 8 year old girl, who can already quote me the Four Noble Truths and is excited to get this party started; my 6 year old baby girl, who loves Jesus and is more interested in Littlest Pet Shops than meditating on a pillow; my 3 1/2 year old son, who talks as fast as he scooters and could use a little Zen in his life; and my dog, Rufus, who well… is… a dog.

Since I am the ring leader of this group of misfits, I will share my own simple history with religion.  I have not been a Buddhist for very long.  Like most New Englanders, I was born into a Christian family and raised as such.  In my early 30s I became a curious seeker, studying metaphysics, new age philosophy and chakras… numerology, meditation and Reiki…  crystals, past life therapy and psychic energy.  In January of 2011, I began to overshare my exciting spirity discoveries via my blog Everything Old is New (Age) Again.  I suppose it was only time until I began the transition to Buddhism.

Even though I was more of a Christmas-and-Easter type of Christian, separating myself from the church wasn’t easy.  There were expectations and traditions and belief systems associated with Christianity that provided me with security and community.  I had to weigh the belief system into which I was born against the belief system through which *I* was discovered.  I had to consider the fact that my little white suburban children would not grow up with Youth Group, with Sunday School, with Lent or with a God called “Him”.  I had to trust that there are many ways to reach salvation, that hell does not await heretics, that heaven is home to all – even the baddies.  Even Hitler?   Yes, even that rat bastard Hitler.  (Oh, I should mention I like to swear.)

But there were other reasons, the last of which happened several years ago one Sunday in church.  My pastor said something like, “We Protestants have labeled ourselves as Liberal Christians who don’t really believe all of the stories in The Bible.  But that is just plain wrong.  We do believe.  We are Christians b/c we believe Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary.  We believe He turned water into wine.  We believe He moved the rock.  We believe that He is the path to salvation and that this is our one sacred life!”

It was in that moment that I knew I did not belong.  (Read my other blog and you’ll understand why.)  I then stumbled through the church’s heavy oak doors, tripped over Virgin Mary’s pregnant belly (or was that my own?) and slid straight down the enormous, static mountain of “thou shalt nots”.

I remember thinking, What now?  How will my kids know God?  Who am I if I can’t be a Christian?  How will I decorate my home in December?  

Well, years of new age study have provided me with a good sense of who I am spiritually.  And after much consideration and examination, I realize clearly and confidently that, though I do love Jesus, I am certainly not a Christian.  I thought maybe I’d just remain a spiritual-not-religious type for the rest of my life, but as I read more about Buddhism, I connected more deeply with the teachings of the Buddha.  And finally I surrendered to what my heart was telling me was right.  Declaring to myself and to others that I am a Buddhist helps me feel lighter, more honest, more myself.  And I am grateful.

Buddhism is more a philosophy than a religion.  It’s a way of life.  Buddhism is a practice.  And thanks to modern monks and teachers, Buddhism has evolved through the years in order to relate to modern practitioners and provide its community with philosophy and psychology that can enhance life and pacify the earth.

As much as I have read and learned about Buddhism, there is still soooooooo much to know.  I walk into my future with a “Beginner’s Mind”, a mind that does not yet have an impression.  And I’m excited to overshare everything I learn along the way.

Bits of Christianity will remain in my family’s spiritual development, of course.  And I will continue to melt over gospel music and sing Oh Holy Night! proudly and loudly on Jesus’ birthday.  You can’t take the church out of the girl, after all.  Plus, as I mentioned my daughter SG has always had a special affinity for Jesus and I’ll continue to nurture that relationship and encourage her to follow her heart, wherever it leads her.  We’ll just figure it all out as we go along.  East meets west, yo.  I imagine this transition will be very slow and full of blunder.  So please bear with me.

Okay, it’s clear intention-setting time.  Through this blog I hope

  1. to connect with other moms and dads who are also bringing up Buddhas.
  2. to refine a reasonable Buddhist practice for my children.
  3. to shed light on Buddhism for others who are Bu-curious.
  4. to learn from you, so pretty please post comments as much as you can.
  5. that you (yes, you) will “like” and “share” this blog with others to help connect a community of peace-seeking parents.
  6. to publish a book and/or create a regular new age-y broadcast that will help folks build mindfulness in New England.  I love love love New England and want to help rid this part of the country of its karmic baggage.  (Salem Witch Trials much?)  With your help and support I know I can do that.

I imagine that many (most) of you are my family, friends and neighbors, which means you are scanning these words from computers, tablets and smart phones around the globe.  I am totally and completely in love with your friendships and kinships and mate-ships.  And I am grateful for the lifetime of support you’ve given me.  I am incredibly blessed to have family and friends like you.  Yes, you.  I couldn’t do this alone.  I receive your support with enormous love and return it to you infinitely with sincerity and depth.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

p.s.  If you would like to get blog updates or find an additional way to connect with like-minded people, please “like” my Facebook page “Everything Old is New Age Again” by clicking the link below.  Or just “like” it b/c you like me.  🙂  Peace!