Monday, May 18, 2009

What do you believe?

During our crazy, hectic, break-neck weekend, time was taken to have some really fun and informative conversations with each of our children:

Caden was all jazzed about the Stanley Cup playoffs and the benefits of the Detroit-Chicago and Carolina-Pittsburgh matchups. He is rooting for Carolina because the coaches son plays lacrosse on the same team as Caden. As good a reason as any, I suppose!

ChloƩ is looking forward to Eastview Idol next week, and we discussed the advantages of performing certain songs. Her original choice: You Can't Stop The Beat from Hairspray, simply has too many words, so she has now selected Complicated by Avril Lavigne, ironically, far less complicated and more appealing for the audience.

Cole is, at twelve, trying to decide which university to attend for his undergraduate degree. (He's already decided on Harvard for his graduate studies.) He has it in his head, this week, that McGill has the most appeal. We watched the BLG Awards on Sunday afternoon and he was completely transfixed with the idea of being a student-athlete.

Claire, for one reason or another, was more focused on religion. Or her concern over her own lack of belief, to be precise. She is having her first, of many, crisis of faith. She has many of the questions we all have about where we fit in the world, what is the influence of the bible in our daily lives, how do the teaching of the bible mesh with the practice of religion - she is as confused by the contradictions as many adults I know. I must confess that I am pleased that she is both curious and confused. She is thinking about where religion fits in her life and where she fits in religion. The funniest part? When she was asked by Louis what religion she thought she was, her response: "I'm Buddhist, like mama."

I'm surprised she's even noticed! Religion is not often a topic in our house. Though Christianity is practiced - or Buddhism, if you will. We do enforce the golden rule of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and everything else seems to flow from that one key belief. It's a pretty simple, but difficult, way to live. Empathy, sympathy, understanding are all good character traits to practice while you are young, they become fully ingrained habits by the time kids are adults. Tricky, eh?

Though, technically, my wine consumption makes me a non-candidate, I do believe I've settled on the beliefs ... well, more to the point, the practice, of Buddhism. I found a brilliant article over on Cheerio Road by the inspiring Karen Maezen Miller which gets right to the heart of the matter. (I'm re-posting it here, but I encourage you to see the original article in order to visit all of the links!)

From time to time I'm asked this question: What do Buddhists believe? I like to respond that Buddhism requires no beliefs, but that's rather hard to believe. And so I offer this.

I believe in love. Not the love that is the enemy of hate, but the love that has no enemies or rivals, no end and no beginning, no justification and no reason at all. Love and hate are completely unrelated and incomparable. Hate is born of human fear. Love is never born, which is to say, it is eternal and absolutely fearless. This love does not require my belief; it requires my practice.

I believe in truth. Not the truth that is investigated or exposed, interpreted or debated. But the truth that is revealed, inevitably and without a doubt, right in front of my eyes. All truth is self-revealed; it just doesn't always appear as quickly or emphatically as I'd like it to. This truth does not require my belief; it requires my practice.

I believe in freedom. Not the freedom that is confined or decreed by ideology, but the freedom that is free of all confining impositions, definitions, expectations and doctrines. Not the freedom in whose name we tremble and fight, but the freedom that needs no defense. This freedom does not require my belief; it requires my practice.

I believe in justice. Not the justice that is deliberated or prosecuted; not that is weighed or measured or meted by my own corruptible self-interest. I believe in the unfailing precision of cause and effect, the universal and inviolable law of interdependence. It shows itself to me in my own suffering every single time I act with a savage hand, a greedy mind or a selfish thought. It shows itself in the state of the world, and the state of the mind, we each inhabit. This justice does not require my belief; it requires my practice.

I believe in peace. Not the peace that is a prize. Not the peace that can be won. There is no peace in victory; there is only lasting resentment, recrimination and pain. The peace I seek is the peace that surpasses all understanding. It is the peace that is always at hand when I empty my hand. No matter what you believe, this peace does not require belief, it requires practice.

I believe in wisdom. Not the wisdom that is imparted or achieved; not the wisdom sought or the wisdom gained. But the wisdom that we each already own as our birthright. The wisdom that manifests in our own clear minds and selfless hearts, and that we embody as love, truth, freedom, justice and peace. The wisdom that is practice.

What do you believe?

So, though part of me is still that kid who was raised in the United Church of Canada, a daughter of a Baptist wing nut and reticent Presbyterian, married to a lapsed Catholic and mother to four who are being raised with one rule, I will practice this form of Buddhism. It makes sense to me.

What makes sense to you?

1 comment:

Jack said...

One of my favorite things to do is to sit down with the family and spark up some friendly debate. We have had some great discussions that have started at the dinner table and continued into the evening... Religion, education, ethics and sports are a few of the top issues we like to chat about.

Sounds like you had some great "family" time over the weekend :)