a few things i have learned…

I was only partially joking when I called myself a Buddhist, Rastafarian, Gospel-of-Thomas Christian a few posts back. Over the course of my absence from this blog, I have been doing some reading (what else is new?) and I’ve learned a few things. My belief in the truth (for me) of Buddhist psychology has become stronger. That is to say, our notion of self is an illusion, and attachment to things that are impermanent (including our beliefs) is the cause of all our suffering. But if we can forget the self, as Dogen advises, the we can become enlightened by all things. I also read Bob Marley’s biography, Catch a Fire by Timothy White, a few months ago and although I don’t subscribe to his belief that Haille Selassie I was God incarnate like many Rastas do, I can find truth in his commitment to a healthy lifestyle (minus the ganja): Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, not eating animal products, not drinking caffeine or alcohol, and getting plenty of exercise. (Easy to read, hard to follow) Our image of Bob Marley as the patron saint of dope smokers is a narrow-minded interpretation of the life of someone I’ve come to believe is a true prophet. Read the book, and you may be amazed by the deeply religious human being you find there. I’ve also continued to try and come to terms with the Catholicism of my youth by studying the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of the sayings of “the living Jesus” that were supposedly written down not long after he spoke them. This gospel is more of a wisdom book, and very unlike the stories of Jesus we find in the Bible. In this gospel, no mention is made of original sin, virgin birth, or divine retribution during some future apocalypse. Just simple words pointing his listener towards enlightenment. The most important message I took away from Thomas was the idea that the kingdom of heaven is “spread out upon the earth, but people don’t see it.” I think this a strong tonic to the idea that we will see heaven in some future life or alternate dimension. In Thomas, Jesus is telling his followers to find paradise right where they are, and not look for it somewhere else. Right now, in the present moment, is where life happens and where we find the true kingdom of god. How we treat one another as human beings is the key to unlocking this kingdom, I think.

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