01 May 2011

Humble Change

Yesterday I found myself on the receiving end of food offerings and dāna intended for monks and nuns.  I was humbled to be in the company of these sons and daughters of the Buddha.

I had no right to be counted among them.

For them, that lunch was the last meal of the day, and they ate what was set before them.  For me, it was a delicious diversion between breakfast and dinner, and I was free to have whatever breakfast and dinner I felt like.

For them, their robes are their only garb.  They can go nowhere without being instantly recognized for what they are.  For me, my robes go on when I need them on, and they come off when I want them off.  I can pass as a layman most hours of most days.

For them, the dāna they receive is all they get.  They can't put in more hours, work a second job or take out a loan to make their lives easier.  For me, the dāna I receive is icing on the cake.  I have a steady income and make enough to get by.  I could take on more work if I wanted to, and I can count on some measure of economic control.

I could go on…

There are days when I wish the Japanese hadn't come up with this hybridized, somewhat bastardized, decidedly laicized form of home-leaving-that-really-isn't.  Then again, it's all I can do right now.  That doesn't mean, though, that I can't take it further in the direction of something closer to the practice of the monks and nuns with whom I ate.  Nothing is holding me back on that.

Yesterday ended with a dance recital/show at my daughter's high school.  One of the dance pieces was set to John Legend's "If You're Out There."  I'd never heard it before, and by a minute into the song I was misty eyed, and at the end I was fully in tears.  It built off of Gandhi's line, "Be the change you want to see."

Something happened yesterday.  I don't know what, exactly, but somehow, in however small a way, I now find my path just a little clearer, my burden just a little lighter, my movement just a bit more free.

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