This food is the gift of the whole universe.
Each morsel is a sacrifice of life.
May I be worthy to receive it.
May the energy in this food, Give me the strength, To transform my unwholesome qualities into wholesome ones.
I am grateful for this food.
May I realize the Path of Awakening, For the sake of all beings.

So, I was listening to this great dharma talk last night, from Bhikku Bodhi about rebirth and karma. The description was how our stream of consciousness is like a candle flame. Every moment is different, but still adds to the overall flow of our personal karma; just like a flame can transfer from candle to candle. Even though it's still one candle, every moment is a different piece of wick, part of wax, molecule of air burning from the flame. Yet, its still the same candle, the same as we have our stream of consciousness transfers from body to body, and we take with us the memory and karma attached to our consciousness.
So, over the past few months I have gone through a bit of an existential crisis, feeling the pull back to the Christianity that was thrust upon me as a child. As I have made it through this ordeal, I feel like I should make some kind of analysis for reference.

One of the first things that came about was a longing for the community aspect of Christianity. As the largest religion in western culture, everywhere you go there is a Christian community. And after posting on some forums, it seems as though this is one of the big things that does indeed happen with western practitioners for Buddhism. Because it may be hard to find a center nearby, or the closest Buddhist community may be very different culturally, many people here in the west want to go back to that which is most comfortable.

The other big issue, is that whether you believe of not, from a young age, you were told about going to hell. So very deeply ingrained, and even more so in those of us raised Catholic, is this subconscious nagging, almost like a post hypnotic suggestion. It may be hard for many to grasp, but this is much more difficult to deal with than many could ever imagine.

Thankfully, I seem to have made it through all of this with nothing more than a few minor bumps and bruises, metaphorically speaking. It really helped when some ignorant preacher talked about how those who don't follow Christ are actually following demons. What a joke.
May the merit and virtue accrued from this work
Adorn the Buddhas’ Pure Lands,
Repaying four kinds of kindness above
And aiding those suffering in the paths below.
May those who see and hear of this
All bring forth the resolve for Bodhi
And, when this retribution body is over,
Be born together in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
A Christian, a Muslim and a Buddhist die and arrive at the Gate of Heaven. An angel (or deva) stops them and asks, “Why do you come here? Can you tell me the reasons why you are allowed to enter Heaven?”

The Christian replies, “My ancestors disobeyed God, and I sinned all my life: I killed, I lied, I cheated my wife and I was greedy. However, Jesus died for me and all my sins are forgiven. So I deserve to enter Heaven.”

“OK,” replies the Angel. “Sounds good, but I must give you an entrance examination before you can enter.” The Christian promptly agrees and the Angel asks him: “How do you spell God?” It is an easy question, and the Christian passes through the Gate.

Next came the Muslim, who says, “I did not do any especially good or evil things during my life but I was very devout. I prayed to God five times a day. So, I too should enter Heaven.” The Angel replies, “It sounds OK to me, but I have to give you a test also. How do you spell Allah?” The Muslim passes the test and enters Heaven.

Finally, it is the Buddhist’s turn. He tells the Angel, “I’ve done all the good things in my life and I followed Buddha’s five precepts: I never killed, I donated to charities, I meditated every day, and I never cheated my boss nor my customers.” The Angel replies, “That is very good, but there are no exceptions. You must pass the entrance test also in order to get in.” Thinking that the test should be simple, the Buddhist happily agrees.

The Angel then asks him: “How do you spell Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva?”
This is the wording of the 3 refuges and Bodhisattva vow I received at Dharma Drum.

  1. I take refuge in the Buddha; I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha.
  2. I have taken refuge in the Buddha; I have taken refuge in the Dharma; I have taken refuge in the Sangha.
  3. I vow to cultivate the Buddha-Dharma, to uphold the Three Jewels, and never give up the faith.
  4. I vow to deliver all sentient beings; I vow to cut off all vexations; I vow to learn all approaches to the Dharma, I vow to attain Supreme Buddhahood.
Yet another attempt in keeping a blog about the things that are happening for and with me. Sometimes there will be questions asked, or statements made...if you have anything to say on these, by all means pipe up and let me know what you're thinking.