Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Buddha, The Indigo Girls, and Me

I posted a bumper sticker on Facebook (I know. I don’t want to talk about it.) that said, “Obama is not a foreign born, brown-skinned, anti-war socialist that gives away healthcare. You’re thinking of Jesus.” It says something about me that I don’t even think about this being particularly inciteful (or insightful, actually). It seems very obvious to me and not something that would make people angry unless they have a gun rack in their car and an “In God We Trust” license plate.*

Well, you might not be surprised to learn that it is not obvious to everyone. I received one comment from someone who was a Religious Studies student with me during undergrad. I liked him as a person a lot. Since graduation, I’ve shot off to the left while he’s gone to the right.

The frustrating thing for me is that I know he takes religion seriously. He thinks about it critically, or he used to, anyway. I can’t write him off as someone whose only religious education comes from Sunday School. (How many people did I just piss off?)

I was trying to figure out if I should respond and how to do that in a way that wouldn't become an exchange of zingers.**

I was thinking that there had to be a healthy way to process this mentally. 
Oh, right. There is. In fact, I find it such a helpful way to process things that I had a lotus flower tattooed on my arm to remind me of it.

The Four Noble Truths
In life, there is suffering.
Suffering stems from craving and desire.
If we can end craving and desire, we can end our suffering.
The way to do this is the Eightfold Path.

When I actually knew this person, I liked him. I want him to think like I do. It hurts me that he doesn’t. The problem isn’t him. The problem is that I want him to be someone other than he is.  If I can accept him in his perhaps right-of-center Roman Catholic-ness, my suffering ends. I don’t have to change him. I don’t have to challenge him. I just have to acknowledge that we feel very differently and that is okay.

All this was rattling around my head while I was knitting at lunch. I was listening to the Indigo Girls, as I do, and

I have no need for anger with intimate strangers, and I got nothing to hide.***

Isn’t that part of it, if I’m honest? I’ve become someone quite different from who I was when I was in college, although the journey toward Liberaldom certainly started during undergrad. Even though I’m nearly always okay with myself, sometimes a desire for acceptance creeps up.

My goal is to acknowledge those feelings and let them go.

Secret bodhisattvas are everywhere. Even, apparently, on Facebook.

*Indiana has these plates. It fills me with rage. We’re a country built on separation of church and state.
**Zingers are tempting. My first zinger would have been, "It's pretty clear from the book of Acts that the Early Church was more socialist than Cuba."
***from “Reunion”


  1. Pretty damn awesome. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I think gun racks are a good idea if you're going to transport guns...lets the police know you have a weapon so they are not surprised.... :)

  3. That's one of my favorite IG songs, for exactly that line.