Simple Religion

17 Dec

I wasn’t raised in a formal religion because when my father married my mother, a Lutheran, it set off a series of events with his Orthodox Jewish family that led to them observing the week long period of mourning for him. To them he was dead.

That sort of put a crimp in religious practices around the house. We went to my mom’s sister’s house for a week every Christmas and we had Easter dinner at our house and Easter Bunny baskets for the three of us, but that was it.

Mom read me Bedtime bible stories when I was little, but seemed always nervous that my dad would walk in on it. My parents practiced their own kind of Faith and taught me a love of God. We just didn’t go anywhere to “worship.”

So when I came across this quote from the Dalai Lama, it had a particularly personal meaning for me:

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need
for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our
temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

As a kid I longed for something that I thought I was missing because all my friends were either in Temple on Saturday or Church on Sunday. So I journaled – a lot. I wrote a poem when I was ten years old that I still have, describing God as a composite picture of many different colored parts of the body – reflecting different nationalities, even males and female and one gimpy leg.

As an only child I had a lot of time to think, and write. I wrote poems, stories, puppet shows – and music. I developed my personal “philosophy” through that. I loved the out of doors and relished the four weeks I got to spend at Girl Scout camps in the summer when I got older, because I felt at home there. In fact I remember feeling more at home there than the rest of the year in the city. I also felt close to God in the outdoors. I felt one with the trees and the creatures. My self-sculpted concept of God wasn’t a personage sitting on a cloud. Nor did my God live in a building.

So when my Elder Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha has shared the traditional perspective of Creator and Creation being one – that God is in all things, there is no separation, I understood. I recognized something that I already knew – deep inside, at least as that inquisitive little girl who was “seeking to know.”

I’ve come to appreciate through Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha’s demonstration that our bodies are Temples, Altars. I haven’t always been so good at taking care of mine – especially in my active days of addiction. Even when I wasn’t drinking I was constantly “burning the candle at both ends and the middle.” When I wasn’t beating up on my body, I was beating me up in my head. But more and more I’ve come to appreciate practicing kindness towards myself – towards my physical, mental and emotional Being.

If we take that old saying, “If it is to be it’s up to me” to heart – then we have to start with kindness to ourselves first.

So if I want respect and I want to live in a world that’s respectful then I have to be respectful of myself. I have to love me. I can do that by honoring my mind and heart of my Body Temple.

In terms of consciousness, if Buddha is to the Mind what Christ is to the Heart, then Mind and Heart work together as Masters of Kindness. So it is that as I practice kindness to myself, it emanates outward to the All.

When I’m successful with that, I am in Harmony with all Creation. – because we are not separate. As I see me in you and you in me, I realize that We Are One.

©2010 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Simple Religion”

  1. appreciatinglife December 18, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    Thank you for sharing. I felt the same many times, raised as Catholic and wondered why so many other churches. There is only one Source.

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