Buddhist-Mormon Heritage 12/13/10
My sister Pelly is one of the few people with whom I can enjoy honest religious discussions. Pelly has battled cancer for 36 months and knows she doesn’t have unlimited years ahead of her. Age rather than cancer threatens my own mortality. Neither Pelly nor I find solace in Mormon teachings of eternity and have turned to Buddhism for wisdom in dealing with our impermanent existence.
Pelly has visited the Zen Center where I study and mediate and I’m planning a visit to the Tibetan Temple where she meditates. I’m surprised we have spiritual beliefs in common since Pelly and I did not grow up together. We have different mothers and a seventeen-year-age gap. I didn’t know she was into Eastern philosophy until, on a visit to her home, I discovered books by the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle. Like me, Pelly is careful in talking to relatives about spiritual beliefs. When a cousin asked her to define meditation, Pelly described it as, “prayer—only with listening instead of asking.”
I think we both came to Buddhism through our dad. Dad was an active Mormon, but his roots were unconsciously Buddhist. He cared nothing for material goods. He was attached to nothing besides family and friends. He wanted his children to be active Mormons because he believed in the blessings of eternal life for us, but he had no expectation of eternal life for himself. He performed good deeds for the sake of doing good.
Although his personal philosophy was aligned with Buddhism, Dad could never have meditated. He practiced the gospel of work. He found picking beans at the church welfare farm far more spiritual than sitting through church meetings. I think the only reason Dad attended the LDS temple frequently after retirement was because it is called “temple work.”