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The Pure Land on Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've mentioned before that my family is what I call Chinese Buddhist - a mixture of Zen, Pure Land, and indigenous traditions. Most of you likely know about Zen, but you might not have heard of Pure Land.

The ultimate goal is still nirvana, as it is with all Buddhism, but Pure Land adherents believe in the existence of a Western paradise, created by the beneficence of the Amitabha Buddha. If one is fortunate enough to be reborn into this place of bliss, free from the distractions of suffering, one will easily attain nirvana. And one becomes so fortunate by praying to Amitabha for help. In his compassion for our suffering, he intervenes when we would not have made it by ourselves. One could call it grace.

Public Service Announcement

For those who don't know me as well as others: I talk about supernatural and spiritual things a lot, and I use my preferred language to do so. That does not mean I expect everyone to accept what I say, agree, or believe the same things. I am perfectly comfortable with multiple ways of looking with the world.

Left-Wing Credentials

I have a lot of pet peeves, I know. I’m also aware that often times the things that peeve us do so because they remind us of something we don’t like about ourselves.

One of my pet peeves is that every time there is a story about a conservative who has had a change of heart because of personal experience — whether it’s someone who initially opposed Obamacare until they got sick, or someone who was trans/homophobic until they learned their child is trans/gay — every time there is a story like that, a lefty inevitably snarks about how the person should have known better in the first place.

Practice Taking Risks

Okay, I don't consider myself in a position to preach. I really don't. I just know what *I* strongly believe and that's it...and I listen to others. So, this week, I'm in charge of the service and the topic of the month is "risk."

I just saw a colleague post about reminding a man not to refer to his female assistant (?) as a "girl." And I'm sure this was completely unintentional and there's nothing at all wrong with him and he probably, hopefully, appreciated having his attention brought to this. My colleague, understandably, felt a little embarrassed.

Afro-Latina

Gratitude to Marisol Caballero for introducing me to the term "Afro-Latina." (Yeah, I probably should have known it, but I didn't.) I think this year I'm going to resolve to RECLAIM that identity. Usually, when I see things like this in the news about Latinx, I feel like it's not about me...and that if I try to connect with it, that says something bad about me. But THIS article does not feel this way. It feels right in my blood. I know for a fact that we had "brujas" in my family, and that's what they were called.

Hope for Pessimists

When the worship associates met to decide the speaking schedule, I at first tried to avoid January, which by now you should know has been about “hope.” That is, until I remembered that the theme for February is “love.”

You see, whether it’s due to living with recurring depression or being the child of Chinese immigrants traumatized by war (and those two things may be related), I find it difficult to express positive sentiments, and to believe them when expressed by others. In our house, we never talked about “love.” And while I’m not exactly pessimistic, I do tend to be suspicious when things seem too easy. The values our parents emphasized were things like duty, responsibility, and sacrifice. Words that sound a lot less positive than love and hope. In fact, they sound and often feel like a burden. But there is a connection. I knew my parents loved me, and what they hoped for their children, not by what they said but what they did.

Goodbye To My Abuelita

My abuelita died this morning.

Or rather, has rested, a much deserved rest after a difficult life. This is my goodbye; the piece I wanted to write months ago.

She raised me as a little girl, until about the age of seven when we moved. I was born in Boston and I remember my funny, little grandma always being there. She would talk in Spanish and taught me some songs, and it used to make her laugh to have me sing them...badly. She was feisty. Once, she jumped off of a piano bench to prove that she still could; I had been trying to describe to her the difference between flying and gliding.

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