14 May Mother’s Day trip to Buddhist Temple
This morning we went to a mediation service at a local buddhist temple. It was only our second visit. I did not grow up going to synagogue or church. At camp we had quaker meeting. It was mostly silence, and despite my boy like fidgety nature I actually kind of liked it. My father was deeply cynical about religion, but we had the big book of jewish humor on our coffee table and the dictionary of slang on our shelves. In high school I started to read The Sun Magazine – which had a strong spiritual bent. Many of the ideas clanged against my cynical armor but a few thoughts pierced through. When I got to college I was drawn toward philosophy and religion and finished the major before it was even time to declare. I was always especially interested in the more open and esoteric forms of buddhism.
As the years have gone my cynicism has been replaced by a more open curiosity. Concepts that were once viewed intellectually now make sense to me in a more spiritual way. Still, the hints of orthodoxy and dogma that swirl around the edges of the practice engage my cynical nature. I try to shift back towards observation
This morning the experience was very moving because it was focused on Mother’s Day. After the meditation one gentleman read a profound letter that we has going to deliver to his mother that afternoon. He is 68 and she is 95. Another man shared that his mother had recently passed. His emotions humbled him. It is a Korean, Won Buddhist temple, and the woman who runs it emphasized the importance of respect and honor. Earlier this week my mother came for dinner. As she prepared to go we had a bit of conflict – and over several hours we worked together to break the patterns that lead us to that place. It was not easy, but we made a lot of progress. Sometimes respect doesn’t mean just doing what someone else asks- but finding a way to communicate why it doesn’t feel right to do so- with respect and empathy. Instead of letting rage get to us it’s sometimes better to feel- and own that anger- without making it the other person’s “fault” or responsibility” even if the feeling of anger comes from a long history of similar situations.
During the service I thought about our film, “All The Rage” and how it has a lot to do with trying to work through some of these issues with both my mother and my father. When my father passed away I was buoyed by the fact that we had worked through a lot of our issues. However, at the time I felt quite estranged from my mother. As in most situations in this world, this was not simply because my mom was in the wrong and I was in the right, but instead that our ways of being right for ourselves was out of whack. Over the past 11 years we have both worked to bring things back together- and the process of making All The Rage accelerated that process exponentially. We still have our issues- but since we are both committed to making it right we can usually find a way around the impasses. We did that this week.
This music video was made for a song by my band Sleepyhead. I collect a lot of photos and footage. The we put my fathers ashes in the ocean I was shooting. Sometimes observing in this manner is a way to not engage/be involved. In this case though, it was about finding a way to be present and empathetic- not only engaging in my grief but experiencing from all of our points of view.
Happiest of days to all mothers, all non-mothers- to all.