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Saturday, June 11, 2011

To Jerusalem by way of Dharmsala

If anyone is actually reading this blog, you will not be surprised to find out that I am planning on converting to Judaism. I feel enormously content that I have finally opened space in my heart and mind for anything resembling religion to actually take hold in me. I used to think of being raised a Jehovah's Witness as being the worst thing that happened to me as a child, but perhaps it is the only path that would have opened me up to exploring every aspect of myself after my belief system was shattered.

Buddhism provided a warm, serene, and welcome home for me afterwards. I put my concept of an intervening God on the back shelf and learned to revere my Buddha nature. I learned to bow to it, light an incense for it, to ring a bell for it. Nothing will ever replace that period of discovery in my life, and I have said over and over again that meditation and chanting saved my life. It also opened me up to the world (in baby steps) and helped me see the Buddha nature in others. I began to see the oneness of the world and became a more fearless participant in it.

Last night and this morning I watched live streaming Shabbat services online. I felt enthusiastic that one day I would revel in the songs and in the Torah. I'm not even worried about the Hebrew, because I discovered a penchant for languages at 15, when I started teaching myself Portuguese because I loved Brazilian music so much (I had already learned Spanish).

It's funny to have read accounts of other people who converted to Judaism but first found refuge in Buddhism. I certainly don't feel as unique anymore (in that regard), and that is uncharacteristically okay with me.

Since I've developed the habit of sharing something that moved me at the end of each post, I wanted to share a quote that I came across today, from Rabbi Sharon Brous, in an article she wrote for the Washington Post. I think it captures the spiritual place I was in before exploring Judaism. She is specifically talking about the phenomenon of Eat, Pray, Love and the dropping everything for some unending spiritual journey that takes you away from the world we have to inhabit.

"You can't live in an eternal Shabbat, because the religious life is not about personal spiritual satisfaction, it is about pouring holy light into a tragically broken world."

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