Saturday, May 5, 2007

Spiritual Autobiography- Drury pt. 1

Track 9: I’ll Follow the Sun

And now the time has come
And, my love, I must go
And though I lose a friend
In the end you will know, oh

One day you'll find that I have gone
But tomorrow may rain,
So I'll follow the sun

“I’ll Follow the Sun” John Lennon and Paul McCartney

After some serious thinking and discussion with my parents, I decided to transfer. Interpreting just wasn’t working out for me, and I wanted to study religion and philosophy in a real department, with real professors, in hopes of one day teaching college. Leaving William Woods wasn’t all that difficult for me, because while I knew I would miss people, I desperately wanted to learn and I desperately wanted to go some place where that would be encouraged and supported in my philosophical endeavors. After visiting the campus of Drury University and meeting with Dr. Esposito, I knew Drury was where I needed to be.

My first religion class at Drury was The Bible and Sexual Ethics with Dr. Hornsby, which I took simultaneously with Classic Problems in Philosophy with Dr. Panza. Both of these classes gave me exactly what I wanted, what I had felt was missing from my education at William Woods. I was able to learn and discuss new concepts, and put official names to ideas I had already been pondering. I finally felt at ease.

But while I was enjoying myself intellectually, spiritually I was still on hold. I found it easier to just completely remove my world view, to “hang up my beliefs at the door” as I liked to call it, when I was in class. I didn’t consider myself or what I believed. I didn’t think about how what I was learning fit into my personal schema, I just absorbed information and discussed it without letting it truly affect me.


Track 10: Across the Universe

Om.

-“Across the Universe” John Lennon and Paul McCartney


It wasn’t until I took Buddhism and the Joy of Being Awake with Dr. Esposito that I let a class personally affect me. While “Across the Universe” is clearly a Hindu song, the mood it sets for me reminds me of the tranquil way I embraced Buddhist thought, the ease with which I transitioned into that world view. I had really wanted to take the class when I learned it was being offered, but when I enrolled in it I didn’t really know how much it would change my life.

My life has always been rather stressful. I could blame it on my family, on being the first-born or on my Type A personality, but that’s all irrelevant. I think the reason that learning about Buddhism was such a relief for me was because it offered me a chance to escape my stressful mind, to find peace. The four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-fold Path rang true within me and I found myself wanting to learn more, to try to incorporate Buddhist practices into my life. I found myself wanting to be spiritual again.

For my final project in Buddhism class, I chose to do a sort of book report on Pema Chodron’s No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva. Through Chodron’s commentary on this ancient text, I found my spirituality, my drive to help human-kind renewed. The process of awakening bodhichitta, loving-kindness and working for the well-being of all resonated within me, and reawakened my inspiration for helping others.

After reading No Time to Lose, I picked up Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn, another book which changed my life. In a way, Hahn gave me permission to embrace Eastern ideas while living in a Western world and still operating within my Christian-raised paradigm. He emphasized staying true to your roots enhancing your Christian practices through Buddhist mindfulness and meditation. The practice of mindfulness, of living in the present moment, was such an enjoyable practice to me. The summer following junior year proved to be a bit stressful (as summers spent at camp in the hot sun with mischievous kids often are) but I glided through with a calm sense of security, and a love for everyone around me. I’m sure the spiders I saved from the squish-happy flip-flops of the kids were grateful for my inner peace as well.

2 comments:

Mark said...

You and I have some really interesting similarities in our lives, only mine is on a three year delay. I'm sure you noticed this long before I did, but it's pretty cool.

Themindtaker said...

Isn't it fascinating how these things work? Maybe it's just my human tendency to find patterns, but the way you took Dr. Hornsby and Dr. Panza's classes, and then Dr. Esposito's class which led you to Pema Chodron's book which led you to Thich Nhat Hahn-- it's all so very fascinating.

And the amazing thing is that that's just one leg of the journey! That's just about one year of your story, life is full of these steps; life is these steps. Just thinking of it makes me want to go out there and live life! No matter what it throws at me! :)

I want to go for a walk in the park. Do you want to go for a walk in the park with me? I would love to walk in the park with you right now. :)