28 June, 2009

Two Worlds Meet

Today, I had coffee outside a coffee house, and a middle-aged man asked if he share my table. I said, “Of course.” So, I said chirped in, “So, how are you?” instead of being quiet and withdrawn as most people do when a stranger sits down. It started us on a conversation of sorts, I finding out he is Arab, and I American. I usually like to base a conversation on how Buddha’s ideas and particularly meditation has helped me. I make the statement that all religions had meditation in some form, and just meditating with or without being Buddhist is fine. We both agreed that Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad were all wise men who came up with similar teachings, and he said, “we as people, no matter where we are from, are more alike than not.” I learned his mother is in a coma for 8 years, and been taken to many hospitals around the world. Saying, “She is my mother, and you can not give up on your mother!” I thought this was a nice indication of where his heart is, and it did not take away from his masculinity. As we spoke further and he asked if I was ever married, and for his sake did not discuss being gay, said, “No.” He did not raise an eyebrow, and we continued taking and of course he knew I was gay. He was curious about me being a monk, and assumed it was peaceful and easy. I said the work is always in your mind and how you perceive the world and our suffering. Suffering in terms of the simple fact that sitting is painful, so you stand up and that becomes tiresome and you sit down again. If we can expand this to our tired old bodies that will get older and more painful than we have acquired some wisdom. I don’t preach my ideas, but offer them as a common bond we all share. He noted, while taking his mother to a US hospital, he saw poor homeless there and was shocked. We agreed that all the people with money should help the poor in some way, because we don’t know next where we will be. I offered that Buddha taught that we may be reincarnated as a lower form or animal, so it is best for our karma to help others. He was not buying the karma idea, but was gentlemanly still agreeing on helping others talking about South Africa where he worked at one time. The poor there live on less than 1 dollar and they will kill you if out late at night in Durban. It was overall a pleasant exchange and when he left, he said, “Nice to meet you, dear.” It was not said in a condescending way, just a subtle acknowledgement.

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