March 20, 2011 § 4 Comments
I wrote this post at the end of last year in response to a #reverb 10 prompt. It’s about my judgments and my efforts to understand and release them. Please do comment – if any of this resonates I would love to discuss, but please know that it’s not meant to offend or spark a debate on religion or belief.
Prompt: Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)
I am not the open minded person I thought I was.
This may not have been the most pleasant thing to learn, so, maybe not the “best” thing I’ve learned, but arguably the most important. Realizing the depth of my judgments – from big things to common everyday things – is shifting my perspective slowly and deliberately. I had the thought the other day that if I’m reading the Bhagavad Gita and that’s akin to the Bible… Maybe it’s time to go back and read the Bible (my judgmental self gasped, “WHAT?!”) I haven’t so much as opened my Bible since I was just a kid and still attending church. I wonder if it is even still in the house (yep. It turned up while we sorting through the attic. I’m rather surprised it survived the force of my adult rejection of it’s God).
I’m serious about reading the bible – although it will take me time to get to it – and probably yet more internal discussions to appease my skeptic. And I am not aiming to offend if you are Christian, I promise I am not, I am just examining my feelings on these topics (out loud). What I object to about Christianity is the questionable application of values that I have experienced in my own life (Of course, most of us can say we’ve witnessed similar behavior from some Yogi’s, Buddhists, Vegans, Democrats/Republicans, and I have displayed it myself in my non-religion, and that makes me…. Yup. A hypocrite. Ouch.) Any values or moral tenets are subject to interpretation and there will be times when I disagree with the interpretation! I have reflexively lumped all of Christian faith in with the interpretation I’m finding fault with, which is hardly fair. Even and especially as there have always been people of strong faith in my life whom I greatly respect. If I am not respectful of their faith in spite of the points on which I might disagree, I am not respecting them.
If all religions are about love at their core, why shouldn’t I read the Bible? One of my favorite things about the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita has been the translator’s recommendation NOT to take their word as truth. And my new “friend” Krishnamurti (I still haven’t decided whether I think he was brilliant or a big asshole… Oops, there I go with the judgements.) says that as soon as the words are spoken/written, it’s not truth, it’s interpretation. Don’t accept what you are fed by an authority, seek out the truth yourself. That would be my interpretation of his words – so take THAT for what it’s worth! The message I’m getting from all of this is: Study, find what resonates, read other translations, hell, go learn the language and translate it yourself. My thought is that applying the same student’s eye I am using for the Sutras and the Gita to the Bible might give me a more objective view of Christianity.
A friend at work has a son who is attending Catholic school and is going through First Reconciliation soon. She is “hardly a good Catholic” (her words, not mine), and questions a lot of what she sees both in her church and in the larger Catholic organization, but her description to me of her discussion with her son and what the process is about (forgiveness, and ultimately, being able to give it to yourself) was very moving to me. It seems a shame to take a core concept like love and bury it in a bunch of dogma that is sometimes used to justify very un-loving acts…. And that right there is the heart of my problem. I have taken issue with the faith when I should be taking issue with an interpretation, and I am humbled to say that. And furthermore, though this part is still very much in the works for me, that the people holding fear-filled interpretations are also deserving of compassion.
Lest you think my dislike for dogma is blind to yoga, I have to tell you that I have had the same reactions to the yoga “stuff”. I freaked out a tiny bit when in Teacher Training we were told to chant OM as part of our sitting practice, even though I had already begun to learn more about the word and to appreciate it’s meaning (Really, it is not so different from the singing of hymns, except for the repetition!). Now, my head still occasionally balks at such concepts, because I have not completely released my fearful and stereotypical judgements of yogis – but my heart just loves it. It feels amazing. And now that we’ve moved on to something else, and we aren’t chanting anymore, I miss it. Shhhhhh… don’t tell.
So, I am NOT the open-minded person I thought that I was. But somehow, in the simple (or, not-so-simple) act of acknowledging this, I can feel it beginning to shift. I’m working on it.