Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Apparently the Universe is a Buddhist

On Sunday, there was a fabulous sermon at church. Seriously, one of the best sermons I've ever heard. The preacher was working from some Buddhist writings by Pema Chodron, about the techniques that we use to avoid what scares us and therefore to avoid being fully present and awake for ourselves and others, and before she was done she'd managed to roll in a story about screaming kids on a plane and a wrap-up story about a family gathered around their dying father, which had half the congregation in tears.

It was a tour de force. I left feeling inspired and refreshed and centered and determined. All I had to do was hold on to that moment of insight, FOREVER, and I would be a perfectly enlightened human being.

Alas, I've realized I have to go to church every week because the centering and perspective and humility and whatever it is one gets from a good sermon does not last forever. It doesn't even last a week. By Sunday afternoon, I was trying to explain to Enrico about the great sermon - which he would have loved because he resonates with Buddhist thought - and I couldn't produce a remotely articulate summation of what I'd just heard. Oh well. I'll just have to wait for the podcast. (Just imagine what Ralph Waldo Emerson could have done with podcasts!)

Meanwhile, by Monday, I had worked myself into a snit about a board meeting that I was about to attend. My piece of business wasn't on the agenda the way I wanted it to be, this group moves too slowly, I end up doing too much of the work, wah wah WAH. We're always short on money, I'm the treasurer, nobody else worries about this as much as me, wah wah WAH. Even as I worked myself into said snit, there was a part of my brain that stood back and watched, saying, "You know, this isn't at all helpful. Or even accurate, for that matter. Why are you doing this?" That part of my brain apparently remembered about Buddhism and creating our own suffering. But, the rest of my brain didn't care. It barrelled merrily along creating this very satisfyingly self-righteous snit.

And then, two things happened in rapid succession. I won't go into the details, but suffice to say that money for this organization appeared from two unexpected places. Not one, but two. Just at that exact moment. It was like the Creative Force of the Universe saying "Ha! You think everything hinges on you, do you? Well, let me teach you a little lesson."

The moral of the story isn't so much that I think we're powerless in the events around us - on the contrary - but that we constantly, stubbornly, blindly misunderstand the nature of that power. That, and the fact that sometimes the Universe really knows how to rain on a good snit parade.

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