“More important than identification with a religion is to live the teachings― to focus on being peaceful, loving, joyful, generous, grateful, mindful and kind. To “be the change,” as Gandhi put it, transcending the conceptual categories and divisions in our heads.”
When Western people are drawn to the Buddha’s teachings the problem often arises of how to communicate about this to non-Buddhist family and friends. Especially difficult is when some are unhappy or voice disapproval.
Ram Dass has shared a story of a young woman who told him, “My family hates when I’m a Buddhist but loves when I’m a Buddha.” In other words, its not what religion we identify ourselves with that matters, but how we think, feel and keep our hearts open with others that matters most.
In my experience, it’s often beneficial to not identify too strongly with any group or “ism”… When I identify myself as a Buddhist then a non-Buddhist becomes “the other” – and there’s an immediate wall of separation- us/them, me/you.
The same is true for anyone who identifies strongly with being a Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jew while failing to apply the deepest wisdom and compassion of those traditions.
More important than identification with a religion is to live the teachings― to focus on being peaceful, loving, joyful, generous, grateful, mindful and kind. To “be the change,” as Gandhi put it, transcending the conceptual categories and divisions in our heads.
Simplifying our sense of identity, being with people fully, sometimes silently (knowing in our hearts that we are all part of one unified reality) is transformative. Giving everyone you meet your undivided love and attention― as small children often do― is one of the greatest gifts we can share with ourselves and the world (which were never really separate in the first place).
By focusing on the interdependence, unity and connectedness that was always there from the beginning, the “problem” of self/other is not so much solved, as dissolved and transcended.
~Christopher Chase Tao & Zen
“We are life, and life is limitless. Perhaps one can say we are the life of the world, and so live the sufferings and joys of others. Having seen the reality of interdependence and entered deeply into its reality, nothing can oppress you any longer. Meditation on interdependence is to be practiced constantly- as an integral part of our involvement in all ordinary tasks. We must learn to see that the person in front of us is ourself and that we are that person.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh~