Last year I went to the local Buddhist meditation center three days after Russia invaded Ukraine. I hadn't been in a while, maybe a year or so prior and I've been back one time since 2/27/22. I intend to go more often, but I forget or get swept up in something. Now that I think about it that's pretty symbolic of my whole spiritual dilemma.
This day was a sunday, the sunday after Russia invaded. Every Sunday this meditation center does a prayer for world peace, so that seemed like a good day to go and partake.
Being an American I don't have much to say about that war besides that its sad. Most Americans have a lot more to say about it and good for them. I remember seeing many philosophical and moralistic stances against NATO and the whole Military Industrial Complex . I felt it was petty and narcissistic.
I forgot I was writing about buddhism. Let me suspend judgement and resume.
It felt heavy to be in the meditation center that day. I took off my shoes and put my wallet and keys inside my stinking shoes in plain view of anyone who might desire to take them. I felt confident in this decision. When I entered the meditation hall I was greeted by the girl who works the sound and an elderly monk. He shook my hand, smiled, and handed me a prayer card. It was red with the liberating prayer and an ornate design around it's boarder in gold. I sat in the second row from the front next to the wall. People began filing in and taking their seats. Ages were from late 20's to middle aged and older. Mostly the crowed was middle aged. The guy next to me had a long pony tail and I was sure we could strike up a conversation about the Grateful Dead. Everyone sat quite and waited.
Now, at this time I was feeling a bit dark. Not about the war, though that was an ambient gloom on top of my already dower mood. Selfishly, I wanted to come here to meditate and be in pleasant company away from all that was bothering me. And praying for a war to end was good karma on top of that.
Soon the Monk who was leading the sermon entered. Everyone stood, he walked to the front, smiled, bowed, and sat in his elevated chair facing us. We all sat. Over the speakers a recording of the liberating prayer began playing. I read along. After the music stopped, the monk began talking. His mood was incredibly uplifting off the bat. For all I knew he just woke up from a long nap after having a good meal. He spoke about broad buddhist concepts (this denomination is more secular if you hadn't guessed) some of which I was familiar with, but was happy to hear elaborated on by a devotee. I listened with my eyes closed. Drifting in and out of conscious awareness. One story stuck with me about a farmer who was given a Foe Destroyer's tooth. The farmer prayed to the tooth every day until one day he was informed that the tooth was not from a Foe Destroyer but a stray dog. No loss, the monk said, because the farmers intentions were pure and focused. I liked that.
After the sermon concluded I bought a book from the cafe and bolted out of there. Everyone was very nice. So nice that I didn't want to get my stink on them.