new delusions :)
The sound of Buddhist chanting is familiar at my house. It’s usually coming from the Buddhist temple next door. One day I went inside that temple and after poking around awkwardly, took off my shoes. I cautiously walked up stairs and was quickly absorbed into chanting and kneeling. Having grown up Muslim, I was a little weary of the shrine towards the front, but I appreciated the chorus of devotion all around me and the openness to share.
However, last night the Buddhist chanting was coming from me. In Japanese.
Okay, well it was really mostly coming from my roommate Jason (who speaks Japanese really fast) but I was doing my best to sync my energy…
Earlier, my roommate Jason and I had a long, deep conversation (one of my favorite things to have). We usually don’t have time for these things considering we’re both usually studying but school hasn’t fully started this semester yet.
He’s half-American and half-Japanese, and a Japanese Buddhist. We talked about the history of Buddhism, American vs. Japanese Budddhism, and Buddhist beliefs. We talked about the interesting differences between people like us, bicultural people, and pure Americans. There are certain things that we grew up with that have become who we are at our core. While it’s easy for us to relate to Americans, it takes pretty special Americans to be able to relate to us. For instance, he and I grew up okay with constant criticism, it didn’t damage us-just made us self-critical and constantly hoping to improve (deep looking). Whereas many Americans see this as a weakness, and instead of looking deeply at what they can improve…they are quick to fix the superficial (i.e. Heidi Montag).
I’ve been attracted to Buddhism for a long time. Not the religiousy, ritual, deifying Buddha stuff…but the core beliefs. The philosophies behind some of the teachings just make sense. Jason told my about the mystic law, which when he broke it down, sounded a lot like believing in cause and effect. That makes sense! As one of the oldest philosophies on earth, it should. But so do some things in Islam and Christianity.
One thing I love about Buddhism is the idea that you should try to be in the middle. When I was in my younger twenties I didn’t investigate Buddhism although I was attracted to it because I didn’t want to be in the middle. I consider myself passionate. I thought I would rather be extremely happy and then extremely sad than be in the center. That sounded boring. But after a few years of extremes, the center sounds pretty nice. I’ve experienced the extremes, I know how exciting they can be, I’m ready to experience peace. Moreover, the extremes never last…in that sense there is an element of illusion to them…and lastly, too much of even a good extreme can just be unhealthy…which brings me to Dolores.
When I was 16, I think, I was going on a fieldtrip and getting ready to board the bus when my now-friend then-program-supervisor-adult-person, Dolores, answered a question in an interesting way. I don’t remember the exact conversation but it went something like me asking her why she had become so Christian…she told me that she once used to be very stressed out about some problems in her life, and when she finally learned to give that stress to God, everything became better. It took a huge weight off of her shoulders. She made it sound healthy and glorious enough to make the memory stick.
My new philosophy reminds me of her in the feeling of “load-off” that it gives me. I have decided to adopt the delusion that everything will work out. I refuse to clarify to myself what that exactly means yet. But I find it to compare well with the Christian faith that things happen for a reason. It will also help keep me centered in a Buddhist way from getting too sad and just trusting that the universe will rebalance. I know it sounds delusional, but I think all faith is. And yet sometimes it works. And it most definitely can be healthier.
There are a few of you who will say this will prevent me from making active choices to improve poor situations. I will just be happy with whatever then right? Sort of. I will still make the best choices I can, I will still try to improve myself and life…but I just won’t let it get me in a hellish-headspace.
I think that’s what faith does. I think that’s what chanting can do. It keeps your head-space clear. It keeps you healthy. It gives you a feeling of well-being….and I guess we need that feeling to think straight and make the best choices. Which brings me back to my debate with Shabs about happiness…whether happiness is really an emotion or a part of your head-space…I’ll save that for another blog though 🙂