On the phone, at a gas station, in our dreams
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I was dressed and ready for church, waiting while the others bustled about in preparation, when a sudden conviction took hold of me: “I’m not going,” I told my mother.
“You can’t have freedom of religion without free speech. You have to protect all of it: the Bible and the Quran and my right to say, ‘These books are full of fairy tales.’ ”
A kidney donor, Las Vegas, a ballet dancer
You can spend your whole life struggling against war and end up with a world that’s more violent than when you began, but resistance is what gives you spiritual strength. You trust that the work is worth doing and that it’s helping somewhere, though perhaps evidence of that won’t be apparent in your lifetime. You find self-worth in the ability to stand up and fight back without worrying too much about what you can accomplish. That is part of being human. We’re not God. We have a limited capacity to fight evil. We use the gifts and tools we’ve been given and trust that life is meaningful, even if everything we try to do seems to fail.
Walking into the temple compound, we walked into another world: quiet, serene, holy. Irregular stepping stones led us through a mossy garden to a steadily dripping little waterfall. Off to one side was a standing figure of Kwan Yin, bodhisattva of compassion, standing on a lotus pedestal.
War and peace start in the hearts of individuals. Strangely enough, even though all beings would like to live in peace, our method for obtaining peace over the generations seems not to be very effective: we seek peace and happiness by going to war. This can occur at the level of our domestic situation, in our relationships with those close to us.
Fundamentalist Christians are leading a movement to teach “intelligent design” in our public schools, as an alternative to evolution.
In the past Muslims understood that the message of Islam is contained in very specific teachings, and that other teachings in the Koran are very Arabian in character. Unfortunately, some present-day Muslims — and they are properly called “fundamentalists” — do not look at the historical context of the Koran’s teachings, and so they want to transplant those Arabian teachings exactly as they are into twenty-first-century society.
The first noble truth of the Buddha is that people experience dukka, a feeling of dissatisfaction or suffering, a feeling that something is wrong. . . . only in the West is this dissatisfaction articulated as “Something is wrong with me.”