Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Living Lent in Lotus - the update

Based on the feedback I got from my friends on Facebook (where are all of my friends on Blogger?), I am officially giving up text-messaging for Lent, WITH this disclaimer:**Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is 47 days. If you want to argue that Lent only goes to Good Friday, it's still 44 days. Lent is supposed to be a 40-day sacrifice, therefore I will be catching up on each week's text messages on Sundays (but not this Sunday because I started late).
I have already moved the messages icon to the second page of my iPhone. I have turned off the notifications, and I am letting everyone know now - if you really want to get in touch with me between now and Easter, texting is not the way. Don't think I don't like you anymore if I don't return your text. Also, don't be surprised if I call you (shocking!) in response to your text (I will likely be reading them at the end of each day to make sure no one wanted anything important).

"This is where the men get separated from the boys..."
I have a favor to ask:
CAVEAT: I am not trying to impose my sacrifice on you. I just want everything to be the best it can be.
Favor: Please don't let this mean that I don't talk to you for 6 weeks. I think that would just be silly. I understand that this is the information age. I understand that we all keep our friends and our news and our social networks in our hip pockets, but can we - especially those of us who I know are intelligent and good-hearted - just try it? Can we just see what happens if we actually pick up the phone just to say hi? Or write a good personal email about an interesting idea that happened upon us in class? Can we take this risk, together, as friends? And if we come out on Easter Sunday feeling like our whole world has crashed and we feel so far away from each other...then we'll make the necessary changes to mend what we feel like we broke. Deal?

"Its a lonely road to travel, and a heavy load to bear. It's a long long way to heaven, but I gotta get there." - Send Me An Angel
I am not dillusional. I don't think this will be easy. I know of one particular circumstance in which it will be very hard...but nothing worth doing is ever easy. That situation is one that is screaming at me to be patient with it, so I'm trying.
I am not giving up texting because it's bad or evil or whatever. I am not trying to disassociate myself from people. But there's got to be something at least vaguely amiss if I wake up in the morning and the very first thing I do is pick up my iPhone. This being said, I'm trying to learn to keep my iPhone in my purse or in the other room or somewhere that isn't on my person. One of the biggest Buddhist principles is non-attachment to elements of form (the physical, the temporal, the fleeting). So I'm seeking to cultivate some emotional distance between myself and my technology.

"May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy."
-Gattuso's prayer

"...and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 4:7

February 16, perfect '10 - Tuesday
Well, I've picked up my teraphim again (The Lotus Still Blooms by Joan Gattuso). I don't know what to tell the Christian influences in my life other than this: allI know is what I feel and as soon as I start reading about Buddhist balance and the Middle Way, as soon as I hold the japa mala beads in my hand, as soon as I just sit in lotus contemplating mantras I feel so much better. The highest form of comfort to me is sitting in lotus holding mala beads praying in tongues. I bet that's blasphemy (according to the by-the-Bookers) backwards and forwards but it helps.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, i.e. the beginning of Lent. I don't remember at which point in my life I decided Lent was something I should observe, but I'm sure I was at least 15 or 16. Lent is supposed to be spiritual preparation time for the modern-calendar-version of the anniversary of Christ's death and resurrection. It seems logical that I wouldn't be too worried about Lent if I'm not currently practicing what I'll term "traditional Biblical Christianity." But I read something in The Lotus last night about taking refuge in Christ's resurrection (yes, the Buddhist Unity minister said something about Christ's resurrection), implying a belief in Christ's sacrifice and the supernaturality of Christ's myth. She lined the Buddha and Christ right up next to each other as wheel-turners of universal understanding and then said we too can achieve that level of enlightenment.
"All the effort must be made by you. Buddha only shows the way." - the Dhammapada
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works..." - John 14:12

So if I have already tried and I know that the intersection of Spirit-filled and Spirit-led Christ-centeredness and meditation on and striving toward Buddhist balance is where I find my comfort, and Gattuso confirms that the two standards are in alignment, then it seems a proper thing to take the time of Lent to further cultivate the balance in my life.
So I will be observing Lent.
But from what shall I obstain?

A couple of years ago my friend gave up Facebook for Lent. I thought she was super-brave and wayy more diligent than I. I hear a lot of people giving up coffee or pop or chocolate. The aforementioned friend once gave up the elevator (and took the stairs everywhere). All of those things are nice, but I feel like if I give up something like that, I will be focusing on form (the physical, the temporal) and that is not the point.
"The only sacrifice is to give up that which has no reality." - the Dhammapada
I thought of giving up text messages. That would be the hardest thing I've ever done, which gives it the allure of spiritual importance, denying self in search of the Divine. But, I don't know if that's a good decision, considering that almost all of my relationships are long-distance. If I give up text messaging I severely limit my ability to be connected to those I love. I could call. I could email and FB message. I could write old-fashioned letters. But, in this modern society is there room for such an abrupt change? I would have to actually wait until I'm out of class to call people to say "let's do lunch." It sounds like a 40-day-long game of phone tag.
There is also the idea of taking Sundays off of the "fast." Play phone tag during the week and catch up on texts on Sundays?
It sounds plausible, hard, important, beautiful...
The proposal is this: no text messages from midnight Sunday/Monday to midnight Saturday/Sunday until April 4 and I would take the time that I don't spend texting (which if you're close to me, you know is a LOT of time) to read, meditate, pray...
What do you think?

A minister should be "a purveyor of transcendence in a world that is starving for the sacramental"- Dr. Robin Meyers

"Chaos mixed with passion is like keys opening doors to your desires. The more freely you behave, the more free you will become..." - Chaos Theory

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