Did not know what a Buddhist sangha could mean to me, until four of us aspiring students focused on a multi-colored insect at lunch, discussed its past and future life-aspects, and showed compassion to a sentient being whom we might have swatted away before gaining our insight Sunday.
I became one with the three. Fell in love with each, as we contributed to a blissful feeling of awe and wonder that arose from our recent meditation and studying of Buddhist dharma. We questioned whether we should “seek refuge” by taking the next step in our spiritual path, by becoming something called “initiates.”
For a moment, I felt a bond. I became them. They became me. We all merged as one with that little bug curiously feeling out the world around it and within.
The insect, a flying bug of beautiful iridescent blue and touches of green, landed on a plate of food we were sharing at a lunch table near the Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. We watched as the creature slowly explored, moving one mili-centimeter at time, possibly concerned more with feeding than protecting itself from the more enormous creatures sharing its world.
We admired this critter, watching intently, hoping no harm would come to it while in our presence, and putting into action what we just learned at classes for alleviating the suffering of others, all others, no matter what shape or size.
Jessica pushed a crumb of food toward the critter. Not sure if it nibbled then. But later, I felt the insect, or one of its fellow bugs, alight onto my index finger. I watched it crawl over the ridges, the lines that police use for “fingerprints.” Wondered if this flying critter had trouble moving over such a surface.
It crawled to the other side and then made its way to the middle finger. I was captivated by it. Looking back, I wonder if this was how an Adam and an Eve felt when having all the time in the world to explore the world and marvel at God’s creation?
We were drawn back to Spring Garden Street in center city Philadelphia, noticing that we sat at the exact place where Hershey, the founder of a chocolate empire, had opened his first store in the latter part of the 19th Century. He moved some 10 years later after “credit” problems, only to flourish as a confectioner in another part of Pennsylvania, according to a historic marker. Laura and Helen had to move on, each promising to return next week for more enlightenment. Jessica and I chatted a little while longer, but left curious about our next step along this spiritual path and if we could create as good a condition for our future selves as we did for the insect we related to earlier.
HA! I love this, Michael. You made me think about my house this time of year. Every year it gets invaded by June bugs (who tend to show up in May, oblivious to their name). They are the most ridiculous, pathetic, sweet things. They show up, crawl around for a few days, and find a place to die. They always end up somewhere dangerous–the kitchen sink or bathtub, the floor where we’re all walking around–totally clueless. I keep asking God to explain to me what their purpose could possibly be, but so far I haven’t gotten an answer :).
But maybe the beauty of them is that they have no purpose. They live, explore the world for a while, pass back out of life and maybe into a new one, expect nothing…
I LOVE them. I seem to spend half my day every day fishing them out of danger, getting them to crawl onto my finger (they have no problem doing that), and putting them somewhere relatively safe so that they can have the full few days that they’re allotted to be completely (as far as I can tell) useless and sweet. If my son sees one in trouble, he lets me know so that I can try to help. We’re one weird little family…
Thank you for this wonderful post, Michael!!
I wonder if this is how God sees us sometimes:
“They are the most ridiculous, pathetic, sweet things. They show up, crawl around for a few days, and find a place to die.”
Change days to years/decades….
As benevolent a God as you, Viv, as well as Nancy and myself can be on our best days.
Love just begets love, doesn’t it? Even from — and to — the smallest creatures among us.
Have you read the book “Mister God, this is Anna.”
if not, go and do so AT ONCE.
yes I am being bossy.
And no, for once I don’t care!
Requested the Conshohocken Free Library to order it. Read a review and must prepare myself for the ending, but it seems it will be one of those experiences that can’t be ruined by knowing what is going to happen. It’s the process that counts, not the outcome.
The destination and the journey are never the same things.
It’ll stay with you forever…
“Well, if you are full up, you can use anything to see Mister God. You can’t if you’re not full up.”
“Love every-body like you love yourself, and you’ve got to be full up with you to love yourself properly first.”
“Fynn, Mister God said ‘I am,’ and that’s what he wants us all to say… I am…”
I see you’ve now read it!
I LOVE that, Viv (I’m not so sure about the “sweet” part all the time, though…)!
Why not be a “sweet thing” in the eyes of an Almighty?
Sometimes I wonder if animals are above or below us in spiritual hierarchy. OR maybe only some animals are above while others are below?
Humans are supposed to know better. But, sometimes I wonder . . .
You have made a discovery most people never do. Most people do not make the connection that each human is the I, the centre of their own world just as they are in their own. You have discovered that even bugs are I.
You’re beautiful, Viv. Even with that crazy hat on . . .
Good job you can’t see me now; I look like crap today.
I have a number of hats both literal and metaphorical. I have a pirate version of both.
I see you with a cutlass held tight with your upper and lower jaw as you smile with that twinkle in you eye. Despite the crapiness.
Get some rest.
Increased awareness opens up so many doors and often is the catalyst for more questions. Thanks for sharing your Philly moment.
I feel a new door has just been open for you tobeme.