Thursday, January 28, 2010


Mother Theresa was once asked about her prayer life.

The interviewer asked, "When you pray, what do you say to God?"

Mother Teresa replied, "I don't talk, I simply listen."

Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, "Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?"

Mother Teresa replied, "He also doesn't talk. He also simply listens."

There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next.

Finally Mother Teresa breaks the silence by saying, "If you can't understand the meaning of what I've just said, I'm sorry but there's no way I can explain it any better."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Day Prayer

I recited a prayer yesterday at the 6th Annual Interreligious Prayer Service for Peace and Justice commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King. It took place at the Unification Theological Seminary on West 43rd Street. I was there on behalf of my teacher who needed to be at the temple for Sunday services. Sunim had given me an awesome version of the Metta Sutta Meditation on Lovingkindness to read but when I arrived I was given something much shorter due to time constraints (there were 9 people reading a prayer from their respective faiths) While I'm not sure who wrote it, it was pretty decent nonetheless. I had to practice saying "beneficent celestials" (whatever the heck they are) a few times before my spot because I'm very often and easily tongue-tied. Had I known that phrase was in it beforehand I'd have reworded it because I don't think we should be holding our breath for friendly aliens to help us here on earth (or perhaps I'm being too literal) but what's done is done. 

You can see the video here (thanks to my fiancee and his iPhone)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Seven Buddhalicious New Year's Resolutions

Since most of us have surely broken our resolutions by now, I came up with a list that makes sense to me and doesn’t involve any new gym memberships, money expenditures, schooling, or dietary restrictions:

1. Set aside at least a few minutes a day to be still and silent. Let the mud settle so you can have some clarity and peace of mind. As my teacher says, it’s more important to do a minimum amount of practice regularly than a maximum amount of practice sporadically. Translation: five minutes a day every day is better than forty five minutes once or twice a week.

2. Practice generosity even when you're not in the most generous of moods and may feel like you'd much rather be the recipient than the giver.

3. Don’t indulge the voices and thoughts from inside that criticize yourself and others, and keep you mired in the past and worrying about the future. This isn't about repressing them or pretending they aren't there mind you, but just about not giving any weight to them anymore.

4. Recognize the power of speech and use words wisely. I'm talking about a post-"I’m not gonna be PC" mindset where you don't just say anything that comes to mind simply because you can, but instead realizing that the words we choose and use have a very real impact on ourselves and others. I've actually had to explain to several people recently why it's not ok to use the word "gay" to describe something as being outdated, overly feminine (whatever that means), distasteful, or geeky. 

5. Look people in the eye and smile at them even if you think there's absolutely no chance you'll ever see them or need them again. This applies to the bank teller, the grocery store check out clerk, a homeless person, your next door neighbor (this can be a hard one for New Yorkers),  your annoying mother, just about anyone you encounter on any given day. And don’t get pissy if they don’t smile back or respond, don’t expect anything at all, just do it freely and openly and notice how it feels (even if it feels strange).

6. Pay attention. Don’t get lost or zone out throughout the day, or rush through the things you consider a chore or a nuisance. Wash the dishes carefully and mindfully.  Shovel the shit off the sidewalk with the same attention you’d give to arranging a vase of flowers.  Keep an open and curious attitude toward the physical experience of each moment. Don’t miss out on your life in search of the next momentary distraction in the form of food or sex or shopping.

7. Remember that we’re all made of the same stuff, the same universal substance. Recognize the divinity and worth in every living thing, even if you don’t care for the particular form that it’s currently taking. It doesn’t make sense for a wave to see itself as any different from the foam at its tip, so try not to hate anyone even if they act like “the enemy.” H20 is water at one temperature, steam at a higher temperature, and ice at a lower temperature. Yet it’s all H20 just the same.