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Living Buddha, Living Christ
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message 1: by Cindy (last edited Aug 05, 2015 08:16AM) (new)

Cindy Maddox | 28 comments Mod
1. The author discusses the problem of our young people being uprooted. "They no longer believe in the traditions of their parents and grandparents, and they have not found anything else to replace them." He points the finger (kindly, of course!) at churches and church leaders for not being able to pass along our beliefs in a way that makes sense and have not caught up with the changes in society. In what ways do you agree that the church is to blame? What can we do better? And is it all the church's fault?

2) TNH shares a quote from a Jewish participant in an interfaith retreat: "I feel more Jewish than ever. I will tell my rabbi that a Buddhist monk inspired me to go back to him." Do you think learning about other faiths can help strengthen our own? If so, why?

3) Much of this chapter focuses on the Five Wonderful Precepts of Buddhism: "reverence for life, generosity, responsible sexual behavior, speaking and listening deeply, and ingesting only wholesome substances." Which of these is hardest and which of these is easiest for you?

4) "To practice nonviolence, first of all we must learn to deal peacefully with ourselves." I wish he had developed this idea a bit more. I think he really talked about being peaceful WITHIN ourselves rather than WITH ourselves. And sometimes I'm harder on me than on others. Your thoughts?

5)"We have to take the time to acknowledge the presence of the person we love. 'Darling, I know you are there, and I am happy.'" How true is this in your experience? And is it also true in our relationship with the divine?

6) The section on sexual misconduct may be hard for us to discuss, but it certainly deserves some thought. When have you participated in a sexual relationship that was not "deep, beautiful, and whole, integrating body and spirit"? Does his approach to sexual intimacy feel healing to you, or restrictive?

7) "In true love, happiness is not an individual matter. If the other person is not happy, it will be impossible for us to be happy ourselves." This sounds to me a little like the dysfunctional pattern of thinking we are responsible for another person's happiness. Your thoughts?

8) "Passion or excitement contains within it the element of disturbance." I struggle with this statement. I agree, certainly, if the passion or excitement is found through an affair, for example. But passion and excitement within a relationship can contribute to peace, harmony, and happiness. Am I missing his point?

9) TNH says that in individualistic thinking, our body belongs to ourselves. But "according to the teachings of emptiness, non-self, and interbeing, your body is not yours alone. It also belongs to your ancestors, your parents, future generations, and all other living beings." I'll be really honest here. My resistance to this statement is undoubtedly caused by my being a survivor of sexual abuse. I fought hard to claim my body as my own and will not say it belongs to my ancestors. Can anybody else relate? Or, on the flip side, can anyone shed more light on the author's idea?

10) What about the Buddhist take on alcohol? Do you think everyone would be better off if none of us drank alcohol?

What other thoughts and ideas do you have from reading this chapter?

message 2: by Judy (new)

Judy Kimball | 30 comments Cindy, you remind me in several of these comments that we each interpret the world through our own individual lens. Thus, you struggle with our bodies not being our own but belonging to the greater universe. I remember a Joni Mitchell song lyric when I was a college freshman - "We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." I love the way this describes the state of interbeing as our being stardust, which we are. Perhaps you could be allowed to define Interbeing in the physical sense only - we are all made of the same stuff which perpetually gets recycled in the universe - rather than in the sense that our current physical bodies which we inhabit now also belong to all these other entities. That can be disturbing!

Jennifer | 16 comments The hardest precept for me is the "ingesting only healthy substances" one. I like wine, poptarts and ice cream. Not all the time, maybe, but often enough that this precept made me squirm a little bit.

Would everyone be better off if none of us drank alcohol? Probably. I've seen enough people who were unable to handle it responsibly, resulting in damaged relationships/careers/bodies, to say that it would probably be better if none of us consumed it. However, I like wine. I try not to drink around people who have known issues, even if they say it is ok, but is that sufficient?

Jennifer | 16 comments The reverence for life one is also tricky because he means ALL life. Bugs, plants, research animals. I justify my career by thinking that we have all these regulations for research animals, and treat them as well as possible (particularly when it comes to euthanizing them - there are many, many humans who die suffering more than my mice do), but how is taking life compatible with reverence? Or factory farmed animals - that system clearly does not show reverence for their lives, so should meat be avoided? And is it hypocritical of me, given my job?

Time for lunch, I think, since I can't seem to move past the food questions!

message 5: by Judy (new)

Judy Kimball | 30 comments Jennifer, I used to work in the research arena as well. You have a good grasp of the Reverence for Life issue. It's not a simple matter. And these days we are more aware of the implications of all our choices, so much so that it can be paralyzing! That much more reason to be gentle with one another and ourselves. Try to be good, to respect all life and each other, do the best you can. Forgive yourself as often as you fail. I find that God has a way of knocking me down a peg whenever I get too self righteous.

I wonder if I have the hardest time with the "speaking and listening deeply" one. My attention span gets shorter by the year and it's hard to be present in the moment. How can I be grateful for Life if I am not paying attention to it and really experiencing it?

message 6: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Ross | 15 comments I, too, wonder about whether drinking any kind of alcohol is a good idea. It does smooth out the rough edges of life a bit! But . . . is it just another escape like mindlessly watching TV, over-eating, shopping, etc. How much of our time do we spend escaping life rather than truly living it? I don't know exactly how that would look, but I'd love to feel totally engaged for a day, to feel that my soul was soaking it all in and feeling ecstatically alive. I, too, think I could be more grateful for life if I could really experience the beauty and majesty. How the heck do you do that?

message 7: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Maddox | 28 comments Mod
Thanks, everyone, for you thoughtful comments and questions on this chapter. Thanks also for your patience with me and my travel schedule this summer. I will post some new questions in the next day or two for us to consider.

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