Despite all my questions, evolutions, arguments, hints, allegations, and things better left unsaid about the matter of faith/belief, one thing has remained a bit of a constant; belief is what you feel head, heart, and gut. Things like temples, holy days, and ceremonies are stage props. The dog and pony show one engages in to make sure others, and themselves, know, they are are getting in touch with the Divine.
Curiosity drove my theological studies. Curiosity has driven a great many things in my life. Curiosity has gotten me into all kinds of trouble and led to grand adventures, but that's a whole other set of stories. It is said curiosity can kill a cat, but I've often figured since a cat has nine lives, a single death can hardly be scary.
Once, during my initial delvings into Buddhism, but when I was also reading the Quran, I asked Jezebel if my spiritual nature bothered her. I know how I felt about those who seemed overly religious. Jezebel, being my friend, just snickered.
"You haven't got a spiritual bone in your body!" She laughed. "You're like a mad scientist. You want to dissect and know how everything works, and that includes philosophy and religion."
Mad scientist sounds so, well, angry, and I do so try to avoid the concept of anger. How about ironic scientist? That sounds good. I would say paradoxical scientist, but that would invite baseless accusations of me being contrary, of all things.
But the fact my very bestest friend in the whole of creation said I wasn't spiritual was probably one of the reasons I found myself inserting the prefix of heretical into my theological descriptions...
It was curiosity that got me to meet Gen Kelsang Losal. Oh, I had read about sitting meditation. I was well versed in the theory behind it. The application of this theorem was a horse of another color. Often, I have said my mind does not shut off, and the whitenoise and psychobabble would continue when I was focusing on the sensation of breath and trying to skinny-dip in Nirvana.
Oddly enough, I've always been able to do walking meditation without effort. Exercising in Mindfulness is the term Gen Kelsang Losal used when I told of her of this. This is certainly one of the reasons I find going on walkabout one of the most zen of activities.
So, I went to sit before sangha to learn how to sit. I'm sure there's a joke or a blues song in that. It was during those classes I was invited to take my refuge vows. Curiosity keep me going to classes, and subsequent visits to the Avolkiteshvara Center over the years I lived within the greater metroplex. Curiosity got me to take my refuge vows. After all, outside of meditation classes, I'd never been to a Buddhist ceremony before.
I have not seen Gen Kelsang Losal in half a decade now. Once a year, I go on pilgrimage to, I joke, get my heretical Buddhism reset at the Great Stupa. For the most part, my meditations occur when I am off wandering the trails of our Sahel, getting holy out in the bush. But, sometimes, I go through my phases, and I attempt to sit.
This is not without its comedy...
It usually starts with the hounds; Chevy has to remind me he was once a therapy dog, and crawl his massive frame into my lap. Whistler will chase him away, but wants to either have me pet him or sit very, very near me; as in nearly knocking me over. Milarepa just wants to make sure my face is clean, and will therefore lick every bit of dirt, real and imagined, off.
Then, the cats get in on the action; both Luna French Kitteh and Shuja wanting my lap, since Chevy was oh so kind to warm it up. It's not unusual to hear a slight mother-son growling match. Eeeva Tiny Voice often decides this is the time to show me that she can actually meow at octaves above a whisper, thus belying her moniker.
My contemplations seem to focus on whether the quadrupeds have Buddha-nature or are they just fucking with me...
"Thank ya'll very much," I say once I have finished with my attempt at sit-down meditation. "I was almost to perfect serenity, but every single one of you just had to fuck it up."
They all look upon me with a serenity I have yet to achieve, unable to fathom they could've been doing something wrong...