A little bit of Buddha

There is a basic principle in Buddhism, letting go.  The truth is that when  looking at world religions and who God is calling me to be this Buddhist principle greatly affects my following of Christ.  The basic concept  that Buddha taught is that “Nirvana”, a profound peace of mind free of suffering, is reached by letting go.  Suffering to Buddha was the feeling we experienced when all those things that we wished for, wanted or desired that didn’t come to pass.  With that in mind Letting go becomes a very profound thing and a very tough thing.  We let go of our dreams, our desires, our hopes, our fears and so much more.  The key here is that some of the things we are letting go of are good things, the hopes for my son, let go, the fear of bad things happening to my family, let go, and of course the list goes on.  The point of all this is that I think those of us who follow Christ need to let go too.  We all have our plans we all have an idea of where we’d like to be and who we’d like to be there with but so often we fall short of those aims.  Somewhere between our dreaming of dreams and them becoming a reality life happens.  Life enters the picture, messes up the place and moves on to the next dream.  I’ve found that whenever I get to tied to an ideal situation I end up fighting to keep that picture intact, sometimes I win and sometimes I lose but either way I look back and wonder if it was worth it or if I was just fighting the tide, struggling against an inevitability.  It’s in those moments that I realize that I just should have let go that I should have let life happen that I should have simply let it be.  I’m not talking about those things that should be fought, the curable diseases, justice issues and those sorts of things.  I’m talking about those times when I looked at a situation and wondered what could have been if I just accepted life on life’s terms.  Those moments where I’ve seen that if I had just made the most of the reality I was handed that I would have found myself in a much better situation.  That I would have experienced more peace.  Life is change, change is grief, grief is painful.  I have found that when I let go of that fear of change and I embrace the ebb and flow of life that I have experienced peace.   This video speaks to what I am talking about

Romans 7:1-6 (NRSV)

Do you not know, brothers and sisters — for I am speaking to those who know the law — that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress. 

In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

We are dead to what held us captive!  We are dead to that Law!  The world that we know is temporary, fleeting, fading some day it will all be gone.  Some day there will come a time when everyone who knew me will be gone, some day my name will be spoken for the last time some day there will be nothing.  If we invest in creating in a temporary world we’ve expended a lot of energy and at some point it will be gone.

That can sound awful depressing or  hopeless but Jesus saw it as filled with hope.  That temporary nature meant we were free to live as best we can.  To make the most out of each day, to not get bogged down in dreams that won’t come true but rather to make the most out of what was.  Jesus then spent a lot of time sharing his picture of what that free life looked like.   Life lived for others, with others.  Life with God, life in all its fullest!  And of course we were free to do this because God, permanent God, Perfect God is what we can rely on, God is where we find stability, God is where we are free from change, loss and grief.  God is why we can let go, let go of what we cling to, let go of where we think we will find peace.  In God we can let Go, in God we find peace of mind in God we cas see Nirvana.

God, help me let go.  AMEN

God, Goats and you

So the other day when going through old books my Aunt found one that had belonged to my brother and gave it to me.  It was called “Guy Talk”, not the most creative of titles, and it was one of those odd “welcome to puberty” kind of books.  The basic idea was navigating the changes in your life and the challenges of high school.  What made it priceless was that it tried to be “relevant” and “cool” for teens, which is hilarious because you know it was written by a bunch of middle aged people trying to speak like teenagers.  What made it even better was that it was written in the late 80’s.  So to recap an odd book trying to sound relevant to a 1980’s teenager  written by someone well past their teen years, being read in 2013, it was awesome.  The slang was awkward and out of date, the advice was not helpful, the serious parts sounded funny and the funny parts made no sense.  All in all it was pretty much a fail all around.  I thought of that story when I looked at today’s reading.

Song of Solomon 4:1-8 

 

How beautiful you are, my love,
how very beautiful!

Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
moving down the slopes of Gilead. 
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them is bereaved. 
Your lips are like a crimson thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil. 
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in courses;
on it hang a thousand bucklers,
all of them shields of warriors. 
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that feed among the lilies. 
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
I will hasten to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense. 
You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you. 
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
come with me from Lebanon.
Depart from the peak of Amana,
from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
from the mountains of leopards.

 

My first thing I did when I read that was make up a bunch of jokes … Your hair is like Goats, smelly and matted?  Your checks are like pomegranates,  bright red and lumpy?  Your breasts are like ewes, Hairy? and your neck is like a tower, 100 feet tall?  The truth is it’s hard to read this and get a picture of what is going on.  The basic idea behind the book “Song of Solomon” , which is found in the old testament  is describing our love for God and God’s love for us in the form of a romantic poem.  So what we have here is a love poem written 3000 years ago in a foreign language then translated to English that was used to describe divine love in romantic terms!?!  So just like that “Guy Talk” book there is a lot of ways for the point to get lost amid translation and time.  No wonder “Song of Solomon”  is one of those books which is glossed over, it’s racy, confusing and the metaphors are well out of date (although I am going to use the ones mentioned above to in the valentine’s day card I give to my wife).  When we get past all those hang ups it’s a book which really invites a lot of thought.  Think about it 3000 years ago religious leaders and their people were talking about God’s love in romantic terms.  That seems like it would be edgy even today, can’t you see, if a movie was adapted from “Song of Solomon” some religious leaders getting all bent out of shape talking about how we should only talk about God with reverence and respect not in such a personal or intimate way.   By the way were I to make such a movie I would title it “50 shades of God”.  What all that means is that we are free to experience God and talk about God in all sorts of ways, there isn’t one right way.  We all experience God in our own unique ways and I believe God speaks to us in our terms based on the unique people God created us to be.   

So 3000 years ago some religious people and communities saw God as being as beautiful as a bunch of goats, what are your terms? Who have you Experienced God to be?  What words would you use to describe God? What emotions does God stir up in you?  there are no wrong answers!

God someone once wrote that you were as beautiful as a flock of goats,
moving down the slopes of Gilead(whatever that means), help me to find my own words to express who I have experienced you to be.  AMEN