Thursday, January 31, 2008

while i was looking for the light

for one moment,
i considered becoming a buddhist nun,
though i am not a believer,
not in the heirarchy-
not even in the recycled
spirit on a jouney of enlightenment-
my way is western, maybe,
rigid, true, but i am also looking,
praying to live in the light.

i surfed the internet for my
journey, googled 'enlightenment,
america' and clicked on a link-
a group of women- with british
ordination into this eastern
philisophical religion and they were tree
huggers living on the west
coast if i was so inclined. for ten minutes
i read up on the ten senior nuns-
ajahn 1 to ajahn 10.
all were bald and beautiful and smiling-committed
to purpose, set....but still,
my head chattered:
i bet they look better with hair


Anonymous said...

I’m not an expert on this stuff only someone who is just visiting. These are my observations. I don’t know what is better or even if what I think I’m seeing is accurate.

I think we tend to filter things through the way our culture has molded our thinking. For example, I knew this kid from southern Ohio in Thailand who was trying to learn Thai language. He would always convert Thai words into a similar sounding English word, apply his weird southern Ohio accent, and try to convert it back to Thai.

My observations are that Buddhism is more a way of life than a religion we think of in a western sense. For example, in a Thai village, almost everyone wakes up early, prays, cleans up the living area, and prepares food for the monks. Their attitude isn’t, “Oh, jeez, I’ve got to get up and feed the monks.” But rather, “Oh, lucky me, I get to get up and feed the monks!” The monks on the other hand have the job of collecting the food to make everyone happy. There is usually an enterprising woman on a bicycle who sells food to the neighbors who don’t have time to cook.

Another example of this is the potlatches. In the old days coastal Indians didn’t have banks. Instead, when they had good fortune they would give it away to their neighbors, friends and family, knowing that they would eventually benefit from good fortune of their neighbors. The Europeans didn’t understand this and outlawed it.

There was a documentary about nuns in Tibet on Link-TV a few years ago. I was fascinated by their history and perspective of life and loved the chanting in the background. Someday, I might like to visit there, but not without a lot of research and time to develop trust. Things seem to be always changing a lot there. This isn’t the same documentary, but it is interesting…

You don’t have to be a nun to learn from them, but who knows, you might try it for a while someday.

molly said...

the thing about poetry, it can be entirely true without being entirely accurate

the experience i actually had: i had fasted with the start of my period this month (three days late, but here), and i really had a good exerience...i did not make it the whole day, but the visions i had in the morning were very freeing, enlightening, path shifting...

later, i started thinking about other ways to vision, and i thought about the way people who actually enter religious service spend alot of time visioning and wondered about being a buddhist monk (since hess spends so much time, the monks are always in my head)-not that i really wanteed to, but if i was going to consider relisious service as a way to amke more vision time, i was only willing to consider buddhisn (since judiasm doesnt do monk/nun type things as far as i know)

but monks are only men, i find (bastards), so i think, well then, maybe a buddhist nun- and lo and behold, there was such a thing.

there was one woman who was absolutely gorgeus in the order, and my first thought was "wow, shes gorgeus, i bet she got all the guys in high school" kidding, and when i read her bio, it said she was married...but had been living in the order for like 14 years or something...i was ammazed and impressed at her dedication...

later, i thought about how most americans would have had an experience of confusion and disapproval over a woman leaving her man all alone while she went and married buddha and so i wrote the poem, which is more a thought on culture than personal desire

i slowly find my way toward enlightenment, through women and vision and intuition,finding energy and crystals, through sharing my experience

as for buddhism as a way of life versus religion, i think anything that becomes a way of life tends to become quite religious, as the definition of religion from dictionary. com is "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects:" i.e. AA or gestalt, or partying to hard becomes a religion-think drunks "praying to the porcelain god" (aka puking in the toilet), it seems like a funny joke, but theres a sad reality to that dedication

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Molly. I reread my first paragraph and see the misunderstanding. I wasn’t talking about the accuracy of your poem or ideas. Rather, the accuracy of my comments that followed about my own possibly inaccurate observations about things based on my own experiences. I try to not let my preconceived notions taint my observations, but it is difficult. On the surface, Buddhism kind of reminds me of Catholicism without the dead guy on the cross, though many temples have some pretty gory sculptures behind them. They both have similar rituals… candles, incense, chanting, bells. Buddhism also has its “Pharisees”.

In the end, I think we’re saying pretty much the same thing. Probably, most people would dismiss anything that is different from what they’re used to as weird. While, the tree huggers in California might have a something to offer, it is likely to be filtered into something more like a western religion so we westerners can grasp it.

In Thailand, many women become nuns for at least a part of their life for a variety of reason. It is cool that a woman can be a nun for a few weeks or her entire life… the same as almost all men become monks. From what I’ve seen it appears to be a truly wonderful peaceful and cleansing experience.

molly said...

hmmm so intersting that you apologize for our misunderstanding here....i felt like i had been dishonest by writing this in the first person when you responded- since it was moer creativity then actual experience... i felt unseen (which i cant stand) and wanted to assert myself,

Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Molly,

Shaving your head and putting on the robe can be tremendously empowering because it removes most of the trappings by which people judge us.



molly said...

thers a woman i know, an older black woman, and when she was youn, she was teased alot, and told she was ugly and such, and that she looked like a boy (i think shes pretty, and ery feminine so go fiure)

her husband dies a few years ago, and around the same time her hair began thinning, and for the first time she got a VERY short haircut....

its so intersting to watch her grow into comfort with it, and she does talk about her feelings on femininity and beauty, which in american culture really does include certain hair styles....

and yes, i cut my hair off (in the bathroom with scissors on my own) after my dog died....i jsut didnt have the guts to go all the way and shave it

HitThaFloor said...

Ummm, does that make Britney Spears enlightened then??? (just kidding.)

molly said...

more enlightened then anyone i know, most certainly

Anonymous said...

thanks molly! SEE EVERYBODY! I'M NOT TOO FAT!!!!

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