Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Laughter Under The Stars

I think I increased my Weirdness Factor with my friends and co-workers by telling them that I went to a Christmas party... on the 29th of October... at a Buddhist centre.

(It isn't quite as contradictory as it sounds. Buddhism itself doesn't deny other religions and believes that all faith systems with a core of compassion, and an ideal of freeing all beings from suffering, are valid. Many Buddhists also see Jesus as having been a Bodhisattva, a supremely compassionate being working to free all beings from suffering.)

As to the choice of 29th October, it was because the Lama in residence and a number of students were taking off to India shortly after, for teachings with His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

The evening was beautifull, cool and clear as we sat outside at tables in the garden under fairy lights and lanterns. I met many new people, struck up conversations with people I had only a passing acquaintence with, laughed and generally had a lovely time. I sat next to an interesting Korean man who talked about his love of the 'T. Lobsang Rampa' books as a teenager, and how even though in hindsight they are works of fantasy and fiction, they gave him enough of a taste of Tibetan Buddhism to start him off on the spiritual path that lead him to where he is now. (There is an interesting and crticial review of the influence of the Rampa books and the 'fictionalising of Tibet' here.)

So an interesting evening, and a nice reminder that there is considerable value in developing a sense of community with other people who are pursuing a similar spiritual quest, no matter what form that takes.

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