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Sunday March 17, 2002

Weird Buddhist rituals

Oh yeah, I did end up going to that Buddhist place too, for my friend's class. The temple was somewhat strange, it had lots of statues and smelled like cheap incense. A lot like a Catholic church. There were no pews, though. There were about 60 or so metal folding chairs set up in the sanctuary, in front of this altar. We took off our shoes and walked in, where there were maybe 20 others waiting. When we started the meditation, we sat in the aisles on cushions. They were actually pretty comfortable. I almost peed myself laughing when I saw that the meditation leader was this man I used to work with at the YMCA.

We started by breathing slowly and counting. After that, we just sat and chanted things about "emptying our minds" and there is no thinking, there are no thoughts. I did not join in on this. I like thinking. I don't want to empty my mind, I want to fill it --with all kinds of things. Thoughts, ideas, everything.

I guess I had this romantic notion of what Buddhism is. Of everything from the east, that it's somehow superior and more enlightened than everything that I am. Untouchable. I don't think I believe that anymore. After some walking mediation and more chanting, I left feeling a little empty. I felt like I was a kid again, bowing to statues made of cheap metal and concrete, praying to people and things that couldn't hear me. I wanted to leave halfway through, but I didn't want to be disrespectful to the people who ran the temple, and the others who came to join the meditation.

I wasn't meant to be a Buddhist. I didn't go to the temple to become one. I only wanted to accompany my friends, and maybe learn something. I did. I learned a lot. I have so much respect for Buddhist people and the Buddhist religion, but visiting the temple made me thankful that I am what I am. And my beliefs transcend organized religion. And I love that about me.

Am I a brat, or what?