Good Catholic Girl becomes Imperfect Buddhist

My road to redemption has been twisty. Take motion-sickness medication and follow me:

They don't make a GPS that would get you from where I started to where I ended up.

  • Catholicism:I was born and raised a Catholic with all the accompanying guilt and fear. I seriously considered becoming a nun named Bernadette to save my soul.

    I especially liked the halo. Maybe that's why I'm so fond if tiaras...

  • Atheism: During my rebellious and liquored-up teen years, I gave up on saving my soul.

    These are devout Atheists. I wasn't.

  • Agnosticism: I didn’t return to the Catholics and change my name to Agnes. I simply decided to be undecided about a Supreme Creator.

    Believing in nothing seemed ironic.

  • Methodism: I adopted the religion as part of my marriage contract. I tried to fit in. But I was a better Method Actor than a Methodist.

    Methodist were always meeting, eating jello, and being helpful. I wasn't ready for all the hugging.

  • “New Age”:Rather than believing in Someone, or no one, I dallied in believing in everything. I spent a year’s salary on books, workshops, CDs, etc. before coming to the conclusion it all boiled down to one message: I have the power to shape my present, future and past life.

    I met a colorful bunch of people and spirits along this path.

  • Buddhism:This set of guiding principles was meant to help people navigate life moment-by-moment. Like any “simple” moral teaching, understanding and living it is as vexing as herding cats. But I was 50 years into this spiritual journey and I decided to settle down.

    My goal is to be as peaceful as the tiger. Monks are unpredictable when outside of the monastery.

Finding a Buddhist sanga (community) in my strictly Christian region was like finding a vegan meal at a Longhorn Steakhouse. But I did. It was small and met once a week for an hour in private location. Careful word-of-mouth gets you in–they don’t advertise because we know how Christians deal with heathens.

History doesn't lie (although Monty Python stretches the truth). When on a mission from God, good Christian soldiers will stop at nothing to stop...whatever.

Back to the meetings…The first half hour was devoted to silent mindfulness meditation; during the remaining time, we discussed Buddhist topics.

Mindfulness meditation sounded so peaceful and relaxing. I suppose it can be if you are the Dalai Lama. But for most mere mortals, this form of meditation is like trying to control a tired child on sugar-high–your mind is the unruly child AND the frustrated ward of the wild child.

The odds are against the one supposedly in charge...

To any observer, all is tranquil: silence, rhythmic breathing. The task is to focus only on the breath, which lasts for maybe two breaths. Then the mind wanders. If you’re lucky, you’ll notice you’ve been thinking about your leaky faucet and return to your breath.

Once, as I was drifting, I was abruptly brought back to the room by a distinct fart. Rather than using the noise to refocus on my breath (like a good Buddhist), my mind danced with the fart-distraction. Here’s a recap of my internal dialog between my Wild Child (WC) mind and my Buddhist (B) mind.

Sure, this looks easy enough, but not when someone drops an unexpected bomb.

WC: Was that a fart? OMG. Someone farted during silent mediation! I wonder who it was? Does it stink? I can’t smell it. It seemed close but not too far away. Maybe I can figure out who it was. (I mentally reconstruct the circle.) Thank goodness I didn’t fart. I hope no one thinks it’s me! I wonder what other people are thinking. They must’ve heard it, too. I wonder if they smell it.

I was headed for the Danger Zone in less than 5 seconds. Impressive to drag racers; discouraging to meditators.

B: Lorna, stop! Just breathe.

WC: I don’t want to breathe too deeply. What if the smell travels. That would be gross! I wonder if the people around the farter are doing shallow breathing. This is going to make such a funny story…

I may not be the best Buddhist meditator, but at least I still believe in non-violence.

~ by Lorna's Voice on July 21, 2011.

28 Responses to “Good Catholic Girl becomes Imperfect Buddhist”

  1. Yes, the fact that Buddhism is not a formal or structured (dogmatic) religion is what drew me to it and keeps me practicing. It is such a simple set of guidelines that are profoundly difficult to practice in everyday life. But I try and that is all that is asked of me. ‘Nuff said!

    Thanks as always for your support!

    Namaste, my friend!

  2. Thes wonderful thing that unites all humans is the need to believe in something (even atheists believe in science). We all find are way on some kind of path, whether we call it “religion” or “spirituality” or “pursuit of knowledge.” And my path is probably more adventurous than many but not as adventurous as some.

    Thanks for your continual support and for taking the time to comment on my wacky posts!

  3. Hi Lorna, once again a great post. As I stated before, I am catholic; however, it is interesting to here your take on the other religions. When my wife and I where younger we would, as we called it, go church shopping and try to find something that fit us better than the catholic theme. We never did, but we sure found and learned a lot of different ways to practice religion, so I can understand your journey. Unfortunately mine wasn’t as funny as yours, but I do remember some good farts along the way.

  4. I find that farting seems to be part of every yoga class I attend. I suppose it’s all those downward dog positions. Never had anyone fart during the meditation part. Buddism is a way of life not a religion. My husband and I are Buddists and this is how we approach it. It is a discipline on how to be a better human among others. The word religion seems to irritate peoples nerves: of course, not me. Sometimes, less said about religion is best.

    Enjoyed this, as always


  5. To be fair, I’ve been meditating with this sanga for over 2 years and I’ve heard only one fart. I never did smell anything. I hope that reassures you that Buddhism is safe to try. Also, you don’t have to meditate to be Buddhist, it just seems to always be mentioned as an activity that Buddhists do–meditatite, that is, not fart!

  6. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and gentle comment. I know what you say is true. From what I know about the many religions I’ve sampled over the years, I truly believe that the Buddah and Jesus wouldv’e been great friends.

    I write about religion tongue-in-cheek, but I know it’s a serious matter for a great many people. I respect that, so I keep my humor (I hope) directed at myself and my experiences. One of my best friends is a Methodist minister (retired now). I’m a very spiritual person and live a life characterized by the qualities you mention in your post. I just choose not to follow a specific doctrine. Please don’t take my humor as a commentary on all religions or followers of those religions! As a Buddhist (even an imperfect one), I try very hard to be neither judge nor jury when it comes to anyone else’s choices.

    I really appreciate and respect the time you took to express your point of view. I also know that I could have a wonderful conversation with you about spirituality without any specific doctrine getting in the way. That is, indeed, refreshing (especially given my “fire and brimstone” Catholic upbringing)!

    Be well, Lorna

  7. Lorna, I, too, enjoy your wit and humor in all your posts. You have a definite voice to be sure! I just wanted to tell you I enjoy your blog and offer you a little food for thought.

    I know we’re all walking different paths in this life, but I wanted to tell you that there are Christians in this world who do not “deal with heathens” in the same way as those you’ve met. Please know that there are those who hold firm to the tenets of the faith and who love the sinner despite the sin. We must! As it says in 1 John 4:8, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Christians should always show love, but we are imperfect beings and do not always live up to God’s directives I’m sorry to say.

    Jesus Christ did not come to condemn us, but rather to set us free from the bonds of sin. I cannot for the life of me figure out how some Christians look over that fact when there’s evidence of it throughout the Gospels–the woman at the well, the woman being stoned for adultery…the list goes on and on. Even the parable of the Prodigal Son is a new take on an old story. In Jesus’ version, the father runs to meet his son and falls, weeping, upon his neck to welcome him home. In the traditional version, the father and his household stone the son to death because of the shame he has brought upon them!

    Every moment on earth, Christ showed and explained the importance of love. I try to be Christ-like in this regard, and I know many other Christians who feel the same way I do. He came so that we “may have life, and. . . have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Peace, love, understanding, grace—all these things and more can be found with Jesus Christ. It’s faith and a relationship with Him that makes one a Christian, not an affiliation with a church or denomination!

  8. So true. The difference I found with Buddhism is the lack of structure. Yes, the messages are pretty much the same, but the way to get that message differs greatly. I guess I was never a fan of fire and brimstone as a motivator.

  9. We should talk… Buddhist principles are so simple on the surface but so complex when you try to put them into practice. Living by them has made me so much more peaceful, yet infinitely more confused. Curious yet?

    Yeah, I thought that cartoon was a great find, too. Thanks for dropping by, reading and commenting! I always love what I read on your blog!

  10. Wow! That is some journey. You make me want to change my religion too. A religion which permits room freshener though.

  11. I don’t want any homicides on my conscience. Perhaps I should dial it down a few notches…no, I’ll take the chance that you’ll recover and you can just tape up a few bruised ribs from laughing and pace yourself! Thanks for your constant support, you Crazy Chic, you!

  12. Ha! I spend way too much in meditation trying to suppress that little imp. What would happen if I let her run amok? Maybe, like a child or a rambunctious puppy, she would run herself out to the point of exhaustion and I could finally find some focus when I sit to meditate…She does come out in some of my stories–I’m not nearly as witty or funny in person…

  13. I used to work with faculty in a college. Getting them all to agree on anything was like herding cats as well. I thinks that’s when the image came to me. Thanks for the comment and for taking the time to read my wacky adventures.

  14. apart from anything else I love your image about “herding cats”. Brilliant idea. I was raised a catholic too so I have some understanding of your journey.

  15. Your wild child is awesome. I hope you bring her out more often, ’cause she’s just too much fun! Loved the visual aids, too.

  16. Oh, Lorna you are killing me here! Or should I be calling you Agnes of the Buddhist gas fest??? LMAO Thank you for the read and the pics are great, too. You Crazy Chicks are such comical writers! What a great visit 🙂

  17. I always wanted to learn more about Buddhism but have had a hard time finding anything close.

    Love the Atheistic missionaries’ cartoon.

  18. You’ve been on quite an adventure. Funny that we think we must hold onto one and stick to it when the premise of most religions are pretty much the same.

  19. Hi Janet! Thanks for visiting my blog and for the comment. I try to be honest, but with a dash of humor to take the edge off. What makes it easier is that I poke as much (or more) fun at myself, so I hope no one feels offended. I’m glad you liked the post. I’m sure having fun in the blog-o-sphere!

  20. At least it wasn’t me who passed gas in this story, unlike my Stations of the Cross gastric explosion. I’ve come a long way, Baby!

  21. Very funny! And your comments about various religions are more true (I think) than many would like to believe.

  22. Wild Child is totally out of my control. I am not responsible for her, but I can report on her activities!

  23. Cool tune! Now I have somewhere else for my mind to travel to while I’m supposed to be focusing on “breathe in/ breathe out.”

  24. Everyone has a memorable story that includes farting. You have managed to include this activity in describing you quest for enlightenment. Funny.

  25. Thanks for the continued support. So many experiences, so much time, so much heat–a perfect storm for blogging!

  26. Great job, this was very funny. The jello comment was priceless. Jim would be proud of your 0-5 in 5 seconds. keep doing what you do. HIP

  27. Bridging the gap between religions with universal truths! And here I thought the term “as welcome as a fart in a crowded church” was only a Western concept. You are the enlightened one indeed, although I’m not so sure you’ve hit Nirvana meditating upon a fart.

    Be that as it may, we’re all going to hell anyway, so we may as well have a little music to dance to:

    Hell – Squirrel Nut Zippers

    Nice reading you!!! Keep up the stellar work.

  28. WILD CHILD!! She makes me giggle.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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