Friday, March 29, 2013

Religion and Food Part III

      I also found my self spending my evenings cooking more and more elaborate dishes. I went from watching Meet Joe Black and eating Mac n' Cheese, to watching the Dalai Lama speak on TED and cooking roast chicken with glazed sweet potatoes and fresh lemonade. I remember watching one of his talks and wishing one of my friends from home would call, and hearing him say "if we all just treated each other the way we want to be treated the world would be a much better place" or something to that effect.
     After hearing that I wondered why don't we apply that idea to more of our lives? Why do we only think of that when we some one who is homeless, or when we see benefit programs to support people in a disaster situation. Why don't we apply that when we are waiting for someone to call, why don't we apply that when we see a friend who you can tell wants to say something but can't. Why don't we empower our selves to call, why don't we tell our friends I can see you want to say something, whatever it is I care about you and always will. Why do we let cultural manners dictate how we conduct our feelings and how we function among others. We don't determine what station we are born into, why discriminate those who were born a different race, nationality, or ability. We don't like being discriminated against why discriminate others.

     I let that moment, the one where I was sitting in my tiny apartment window ledge huddled over a plate of roast chicken and sweet potatoes, to be my epiphany.

     I took it upon my self to let that simple phase be my guiding light:
Treat others how you want to be treated

     This simple phase can be applied to everything from helping those in need, to taking a shift for a coworker, to simple things that can make someones day; like buying the meal for the person behind you in the drive through, spending the day watching movies with a sick friend, calling some one you haven't heard from in months, accepting the fact that people make mistakes and letting things go, buying an unexpected gift for a friend or even a stranger.

     While the phrase is simple the idea can be difficult. Sometimes I can't believe the things that people do and I want to get so very very angry, but I remember how hard it is to take responsibility for your mistakes and I let go, if my anger and work towards a solution I can put my energy to better use.

     While this is an idea expressed in Buddhism its only one of the many views. However I am not a true Buddhist. Im not exactly ok with the whole reincarnation idea, I think there is something after death, but Im not sure if its heaven. But the levels to enlightenment thing Buddhists believe in is a little hard to believe in. I believe more in the teachings of the Dalai Lama than Buddhism. He has a really good talk about all paths to god which I am a believer in. I don't care what you believe in, whether it is science, or islam or paganism, or whatever, as long as you strive to do good without hurting others and allow others to believe in whatever they want its good with me.

      So once a week when some people take time out to to to church, or temple or pray with their families, I sit in my apartment cook something delicious and I feed my soul as well as my body. I sit, enjoy the food I am lucky to have, and dedicate an hour or so to fill my soul with positivity. It might be a TED talk or a sermon streaming from the Dalai Lama, an empowering documentary, a youtube clip, whatever. Its not always religious, but it always presents a new perspective or idea.

     So once I fed my soul as a result of feeding my body, but I have come to a place where I feeding my body has just become part of the ritual of feeding my soul.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Religion and Food Part II

     When I first left home for college I was so excited. Within hours I had best friends and I was totally ready for the freedom of it all and leaving Cali behind for a new adventure. My freshman year was great. I had good friends, great professors, easy classes, and no responsibilities.

     But the one thing I knew I wanted at the end of it all was to be an RA. I had a great RA he was really aware of the students on his floor and took time to get to know us as people. I wanted to be able to open up and be real with people the way he was with us. So I applied, and I didn't get it.

     I was crushed. But I knew the worst thing a person can tell you is No. But, no is just a yes if you are patient. So I looked at my options and I applied to be a summer RA. I got the job but that meant staying the whole summer in Chicago and no seeing any of my friends or family.

     The summer was really hard on me I had fun but I ached for the people I loved and hadn't seen. I felt lost without them. Most of my new college friends left and my friends from home were home so it was just me. There were other summer RA's and we bonded and became friends but there was still ample time for me to sit and wallow in my loneliness.

     I became very depressed. When I am sad and depressed there are only two things that make me happy, good food and good movies. So naturally I watched hundreds of hours of Netflix. I some how stumbled upon this fabulous documentary about the Dalai Lama. It was fascinating. It told the story of his life how he was plucked from childhood to be a living god, and how he used his powers to speak to the world on equality, and morals.
     He taught the ideas of Buddhism and how the main world religions have very similar ethical codes, but are taught in different ways. This was a revelation for me.

     My main issue with Christianity was all the ideas veiled in stories, and how it claimed to be the reason for meaning in the world. After more research on the Dalai Lama I learned more about Buddhism the pillars, and the stories. I am not a fan of all of these ethical stories, every religion has them, but id rather the message be straight up, why hide the fact that people should treat each other with fairness and love, why do we need to hide that?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Religion and Food Part I

     When I was a little kid I used to drive for 45 minutes on Sunday with my mom to go to church.
My sister my mom and I would be dressed and out the door so we could drive downtown and sit in the pews with my grandparents for hours and hear these old people tell stories in sing songey voices then eat these weird little pieces of bread.
     We weren't Catholic as people often assumed if ever mentioned these never ending services, we were Episcopalian, which Johathan Rhys Meyers has explained to me through The Tudors is very similar but very different. Same beliefs and all, but women can be priests, it doesn't matter who you love aka being gay is ok, no nuns or monks, divorce is more acceptable, and various other changes.
     As a child I didn't really listen to all the speeches, I preferred to color. Sunday School wasn't really my thing either. I mostly went for the company, because I liked buying fancy clothes to wear to church, and the food.
     Almost always after church we would go to lunch with my grandpa and my grandma. I really liked going out to eat and I liked being with my grandpa and grandma, so as a kid I mostly went to church for the food.
     As I got older I didn't have time to spend 7 hours every week at church and lunch, or chunch if you want to call it that. And I began to be bored with coloring and sometimes I found my self actually listening to the old people in the front talking. I agreed with some of it, I really liked when we all shook hands and said, "Peace be with you" and in reply heard, "And also with you" but there were parts I didn't get. Like why we needed elaborate stories about cutting babies in half to learn compromise. And stories of miracles and fabulous feats to teach ethics, and whether or not we are supposed to take these stories as fact. Why did ideas of compassion, compromise, friendship, and empathy need to be veiled with strange tales for them to matter to people.

     As I got older I became disillusioned with the christian faith, I did not believe in the spirit in the sky, and there was no where to go when you died. I did not see any thing other than just ending.

     But it became hard to believe in nothing.