So despite what was written in the ‘problems’ section, I had a great time. I think it really took me being away, or leaving, before I’d realize it, and I knew that ahead of time. It’s a different life at Plum Village, for two weeks I have no idea what’s gone on in the world, I watched no tv unless it was a DVD of Thay giving a Dharma talk. There was no internet, and except for a few phones to Jeff (which cost $11 just to connect) I didn’t talk to anyone in the ‘outside’ world. But that also meant I spent a lot of time doing a lot of things I came there for. There are a few things I didn’t like, like the lack of scheduling and meditation, too many down times and community cleanings. I know that during our downtimes it’s our time to study and meditate, but towards the end that grew to be a difficult task when the nuns needed what limited space we had for something else.
I did have an interesting conversation with Paula and Ellen (I think that’s how she spells it? She’s from Holland and pronounces it Elli-on). We were talking
Our dorm, with others coming in to say goodbye!
about how open Plum Village is, there have been many nuns and monks who come from other religious backgrounds, and the library has many books you can borrow on other religions. That got us talking about Christianity and Buddhism and how it can be ok to be both. Paula said that she born Christian and is from a Christian county so even if she bows to Buddha and follows this, she wont consider herself a Buddhist but a Christian. I mentioned the fact that I used to be a Christian but abandoned my faith so to speak. It took me awhile, because I didn’t want to let go, but I finally realized that at that moment in my life Christianity wasn’t working for me. It was really hard when my uncle died because it was the first time I didn’t have something to pray too. I later learned that I believed in an energy shared by all of all that I just started labeling the universe and from that point on I thanked the universe or sent our a prayer to it in times of need and rejoice. I totally get that that’s not a unique experience, but it worked
Alethia and her sister Nun singing a happy song to us before saying GoodNight
for me and still does, so I use it. One thing that’s been bugging me in the back of my head when I think about Christianity is that I never felt satisfied for why I left. Or I should say, I felt that the explanation I was giving wasn’t entirely correct, but I couldn’t understand why. This was the first time that I really understood, and now I finally feel complete and at peace with the subject.
In Buddhism the Buddha told us that we all suffer (first noble truth) but he also gives us tools and ways we can develop ourselves to find true happiness. Through my time at Plum Village I have really been able to get a small taste of Buddha means, and I think it’s something I can really use in my life, and I’m really excited about it! But in Christianity (and please everyone please remember, this is a combination of how I was taught and how I perceived Christianity, this is my story and in no way reflects upon the entire religion) I felt different. I felt there were no tools given to help deal with suffering. In fact I felt a lot of
Hyo-Jin and Me
Sweetest person in the world... i wish her the best of luck!
guilt and suffering. I believed (and is beautifully illustrated in the book on Jobe in the Old Testament) that the more we suffered the better Christian we were and the better reward we would gain in Heaven. I mean, didn’t Jesus suffer tremendously during his last days on Earth, and he was the son of God! I was also told that if something ‘good’ happens to us, or if we do something or merit, we should give it to God, and say “This was possible because of God!” and rejoice in that. That’s taking happiness and placing it outside of me. I never, as a Christian, owned my own happiness. And therefore never believed I should be happy. I kept my suffering and held on to that, but gave up my happiness as though it was an offering. During my early years in life I really feel that in my ways I suffered, and I think that this way of thinking has a lot (not all) to do with it. Which philosopher was it again that said giving up on religion was like having a weight lifted off your shoulders? Ah, I felt so free when I finally gave up,
My friend Susan
At a cafe waiting for my train to Paris - prolly the last time I'll ever see her! She's awesome!
and now I understand why. I totally get it. Plus I am thankful I found a path that works for me and will enable me to find happiness and help to cultivate in others! I am so thankful, in many ways, for my visit to Plum Village! I will miss living with nuns and all my sisters and roommates! May they find true happiness and peace!
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