This material is copyrighted by M. Kirby Moore. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. To support Kirby in his business and blogging efforts, please visit Kirby’s website. Thank you for visiting!
In speaking with a friend recently, I articulated an inner conflict I have been noticing for quite some time. This is not new, and it is certainly not unique to me. In fact I wrote about something in a post not too long ago.
Some context: Most Christians and Catholics (this is what I know from how I was raised, but I suspect that perhaps Judaism and Islam may be similar to what I am about to describe) go through some form of self-inflicted guilt trip, which actually stems from a wrong view within their philosophy. The idea that we are born sinful is erroneous. Don’t worry, this is not the reason I am writing this post. I do not want to attempt to knock anyone over the head with the theory that their religious book is wrong. If you feel your religion works for you, then stick with it!!! You may just want to check in with your body though, when you are still and calm and ask, “which do you prefer, the concept that there is original sin? or the concept that we are all born with at least a drop of purity, a potential for wisdom and compassion?” Just a thought…
So we have established that A) I was raised Christian and B) that most Christians have the mistaken belief that they are born sinful and somehow dirty or tainted. This led me to feel guilt on a number of occasions – including the mistaken belief / saying that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” In other words, I felt that if I was not moving toward a goal, if I was not busy, then I was “doing it wrong.” And of course, on a deep level, this feeling that I am evil for having been born will in fact take years to root out and eliminate. But I am getting there.
As it turns out, if you are regular reader of my blog you will already be in the know here, I am a Buddhist practitioner. My mother, who is a devout Christian, told me, “Kirby, I think you were actually a Buddhist before you know what that meant.” I think she was right. When I met my Tibetan teachers in the lineage I felt closest to, I really felt as if I had come home. I felt that the practitioners studying and practicing in that lineage were the closest thing I knew to family. Yes my family of origin is close to me and I am very blessed to have them in my life, but they are not spiritual family. There are some secrets they may not ever understand about me and me about them.
Why am I mentioning this? Because I have establish that I was raised Christian and that led to having a lens of guilt – my perception is / was skewed by the guilt. And now that I am a Buddhist practitioner, guess what. I simply shifted my focus from Christianity, to atheism, to exploring multiple religions, to Buddhism. But my guilt-infused lens has stayed with me. And I only realized that recently. Hopefully I can make a breakthrough soon. Let me explain further.
In Buddhism, like other religions, there are constant refrains of “don’t be lazy,” “don’t waste any of your precious time,” “being in a human body with a functioning mind is a rare, rare opportunity – don’t waste it!” And then there are a number of preliminary practices called the Ngondro meaning to go before or do before. And these take someone who is extremely dedicated 3 hours of practice a day for about 5 years. That is not me (not anymore anyway). I was able to devote three hours a day of practice for about 3 months, then I fell off the Yogi Wagon 🙂 And that is okay! I have to realize that as we meditate day in and day out, our perception and our capacity will shift – should shift! If we just continue to do the same practice every day for the rest of our lives, where is the growth? Where is the maturation? Where is the transformation? Now, if this is a completion stage practice, and if we are truly ready for such an advanced practice, then maybe it would be good to stick with it for a long time. I don’t know. I’m not there yet. But I hope you see my point – as we grow, as our capacity shifts, our practice should shift as well.
Moving toward conclusion, I am a Buddhist practitioner who, up to this point, has brought a guilt-infused lens of perception to focus on a new religion. Realizing this, hopefully I can relax just a little bit more and stop being so hard on myself when I don’t do any preliminary practice in a busy day. Just taking three mindful breaths can be a daily, wholesome practice (as the sublime monk Thich Nhat Hahn mentions).
Now, I am still walking a delicate balance with my root lama, my Guru. I wish to put his advice into practice as swiftly as possible while being gentle and as kind to myself as possible. This shifts from day to day, but if / when I find more of a stable balance, and after I practice it for a while, I might pass along whatever little insight I discover. Until then, I am going through life one breath at a time, softening wherever possible.
Thank you for reading.