Before today, the last time I attended a church service was on June 1, 2014. We visited the Unitarian Universalist Village Church (UUVC) on that day to hear “Being Good Without God: Coming Out as a Humanist.” I enjoyed the program. I thought about going back to the UUVC. But most of the programs subsequently announced in the local paper did not hold the same draw as that topic did. Until today. Today’s program was promoted as “A Buddha for Everyone,” and was a conversation about Buddhism led by Eileen Oldag and Tom Neale, a married couple who participate in the Ecumenical Buddhist Society of Little Rock. We read about the program and decided to attend. It was interesting and (pardon the pun) enlightening.
Both of them grew up Catholic. Both of them left the Catholic Church when they could no longer buy the supernatural aspects of the religion and could not accept the fundamental premise (according to them) that Catholicism requires one to believe that people are fundamentally evil and must be “redeemed.” And both of them had been involved in Unitarian Universalism before migrating further away, to Buddhism.
Their description of the Ecumenical Buddhist Society of Little Rock suggests to me that it’s the sort of place I could find a “spiritual” home, though I don’t know that I require a spiritual home. Practices of Buddhism, though, might well find a home in me. Meditation. Exploration of the four noble truths and eightfold path holds a great deal of interest. Their assurances that belief in reincarnation need not be an element of Buddhism, depending on which approach one might decide to follow, appealed to me. The simple fact that the Buddha is not revered as a god but, instead, as a man who discovered fundamental truths of human nature through thought and observation, appeals to me.
Next step: I want to get my hands on a copy of Buddhism for Dummies, which I gather is a well-written book that explains, clearly, what Buddhism is, what it is not, and what components each path within Buddhism follows.
We noticed again today, our second visit fourteen months, that several members of the Village Writers’ Club attend the UUVC; we saw Myra, Marlene, Larry, Brenda, and Elizabeth today, a significant percentage of the club’s members. Intriguing.
And I liked the way today’s program was introduced, with this joke:
The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza joint and says, “Make me one with everything.”
After the pie is delivered to him, he hands the cashier a $50 bill and waits to receive his change. The cashier just looks at him, without making any attempt to return any money to the Dalai Lama. Finally, he says, “Oh. The change comes from within.”