Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I was sitting on the porch swing with the two younger ones enjoying burrito's and the sunny weather when an older couple, wearing their Sunday best approached us. It should have been obvious to me what their intent was as they walked down my driveway with Bibles in hand.

I could have asked them to state their business and go, or "let us enjoy our afternoon snack and respectfully keep your religious views to yourselves." I am a sucker for conversations about religion, especially with people who are not relativists but see god and the Bible as infallible and absolute.

"Do you read the Bible?" I was asked. "Well I have looked at it. I am a Zen Buddhist and the Bible is not a text we use" I replied. This comment was to be a, not so subtle, hint to them that maybe they should not waste their time with me.

To their credit they stayed on message and I forgot mine.

"Are you afraid of the end of the world?"

When I was eight years old I would have answered yes. I also would have answered yes when I was seventeen. Now, this question only perplexed me, how can I answer this? I was dumbstruck. Before I could answer, I was informed that God would protect us and we had nothing to fear, but we had to believe in god in order to escape fear, oh yes and we must read the Bible.

I finally replied that I was not concerned about the worlds end. And that the only things I was concerned about were finishing my burrito and studying for finals. And that fear, other than its practical uses, was not a factor in my "spiritual" (I still don't really know what that word means) life. In other words if I were to embrace Christianity it would not be out of fear of being excluded from heaven or going to hell.

After they left, this idea of fear lingered with me and has left me with questions. I was left wondering if fear does factor into my reasons to continue with Zen.

So, what am I afraid of? Well, looking dumb is way up there, (see this post.) I want to look smart and appear mature. (see this post) I want be the one dispensing answers to all others quandaries regardless of how little I actually know. ( I am positive that this quirk is quite annoying to those closest to me) I am afraid of Karma, I am not sure how I feel about this teaching, I have not fully embraced it nor have I been able to embrace the idea that there is no way of knowing what happens after death. The biggest fear I have though is of going through life without having lived it, I am not sure that even Zen can cure this one but it keeps me practicing.

Zen also has done little to assure me that concrete answers exist for anything.

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