Day Twenty Five: Uselessness

Daily Journal

So far, it’s been a decent week although I’ve already slipped up on keeping a healthy diet, opting for a Philly cheese steak with Cool Ranch Doritos today. Back to the grocery store tomorrow to get back on the wagon. I’ve also slipped back into staying up too late, and not getting up at 5AM. It’s been a rough week, pulling overtime, having some evening responsibilities that keep me up late. I plan on starting fresh next week. This week, I’m just plugging through it the best I can, with some disappointment in myself. I expect some failures here and there. It’s no big deal.

Interesting post from Tommy Womack on Faceb

Jesus saves. And he meditates too.

ook today (If you read Day Sixteen, you’ll know he is one of my favorite songwriters, and something of a local Bowling Green, Kentucky indie music hero calling Nashville home these days). Tommy is the kind of guy who is an open book and there is absolutely no barrier between the artist and the fans with him. Tommy seems to always be about a decade ahead of me, being over 10 years older than me. He had his mental breakdown ten years before I had mine, and he’s been seeking  his spiritual truth and peace for a while now. I started only two years ago. Apparently, a lot of people other than me also identify with his journey, given the 250+ Likes most of his posts get on Facebook. Tommy identifies as a Christian and a “fuzzy Buddhist”.

I talked to Jesus briefly this morning, and I’m going to my first zen buddhist meeting this afternoon, which I’m very excited about. I’ve read a whole lot about buddhism over the years but have never put much practice into it, aside from an embrace of mindfulness in recent times. To me, these two practices aren’t mutually exclusive, and if Jesus or The Buddha is not your thing, that’s totally cool with me. Krishna’s cool, Allah’s cool (from what little I know of it).If music is your way, that’s cool with me, or golf, or running, or whatever you find that makes you a more benevolent, giving person who builds the world up rather than tearing it down. There are as many paths to the top of the mountain as there are creatures to travel it. Now they call it faith because when I talk to Jesus I have no idea if He is going to talk back. Is that cardinal on my deck railing a visit from Jesus? Or is it just a darned cardinal on my deck railing? I don’t know. I just know that – in these times as much as ever – we need to seek out the gentle wisdom of the spheres that are affected by every step we take and every sip of water we drink. So when I say God bless you, please understand that you’re perfectly welcome to say Allah bless you back. Or, Have a nice day. It’s all good. So have a nice day. And God bless you!

It was my favorite post of the day. Several of his fans commented about how writer/monk Thomas Merton merged Christianity with Buddhism, finding no conflict between the two. Others warned him that he was confused and they were praying for his soul.

On a more humorous note, I had just revisited the blog Stuff White People Like today, and they had commentary about how white people like religions their parents don’t belong to.

White people will often say they are “spiritual” but not religious. Which usually means that they will believe any religion that doesn’t involve Jesus.

Popular choices include Buddhism, Hinduism, Kabbalah and, to a lesser extent, Scientology. A few even dip into Islam, but it’s much more rare since you have to give stuff up and actually go to Mosque.

Mostly they are into religion that fits really well into their homes or wardrobe and doesn’t require them to do very much.

About five years ago, I was arrested on DUI charges and sent to The Lighthouse Counseling Center in Bardstown, KY. They gave us worksheets where we prioritized aspects of our lives on paper, ranked 1-10 in order of importance to us. I put “Spirituality” dead last. Twelve step recovery is based on the premise that lack of spirituality allows our egos to try and run the whole show, resulting in conflict and resentments, drug and alcohol addiction, overindulgence in food and sex, compulsive shopping, etc.

Okay, so what now?

Well, there’s Jesus, who most of us grew up with in the United States, particularly in the Bible Belt, where I’m from. Many of us have been freaked out by fear-mongering fundamentalists when we were kids, further confused by all the different translations, opinions about those translations, and so many denominations and churches to chose from, most of whom ask for money and sometimes tell you how you should vote. Basically, a lot of us have had bad experiences with churches and aren’t sure we even believe the story in the first place.

To further confuse everything, the 1960s happened and counterculture brought all these alternative world religions to the American white people. It seems true to me, after meeting with American Buddhist groups for meditation, that for some people Buddhist is a fashion statement for left wingers. Prius cars, Coexist bumper stickers, gentrified urban neighborhoods, veganism, and practicing Buddhism. Straight out of the Portlandia TV series. I get it.

Then there are those who want to keep Jesus but have the Buddha too. The centering prayer movement. Thomas Merton fans. Christian Zen book groups.

You can even sense that in Tommy’s post. He’s praying to Jesus but he hasn’t been answered yet, or isn’t sure how Jesus will answer his prayers, and he’s checking out Buddhism too, just in case.

I followed the comments periodically through out the day. Mostly a bunch of book recommendations to help clear up confusion about the Bible, or learn more about this or that author’s opinion about Buddhism.

Spiritual seekers. We all seem to buy more and more books, don’t we?

Deng Ming-Dao on Uselessness

Interesting parallel to Jesus today in the Tao.

Blessed are the meek:
for they shall inherit the earth.
-Matthew 5:5, King James Bible

“The same is true of people. The strong are conscripted. The beautiful are exploited. Those who are too plain to be noticed are the ones who survive. They are left alone and safe.”
-Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

Nothing we don’t really know here. Basically, we shouldn’t use others’ opinions of us as the basis of our self-worth. Just live a simple life, evaluate our flaws, and work on self-improvement. We have time to do that if we are not exhausting ourselves with trying to present a flattering, false image of ourselves or trying to maintain our position. To be considered “useless” is an opportunity to live without interference from anyone.

That really is the heart of the monasticism model, I think.

Skipping the Stoic entry again today.  Tomorrow is about praying and altars.




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