Looking towards the New Year

Well Merry Christmas y’all.
This Christmas has felt very un-Christmasy to me for some reason. I think it has something to do with it being on a Tuesday. I don’t know. And I guess because we won’t be getting together with my mom’s family this year, and my dad’s family I don’t see until after Christmas, it really hasn’t felt quite like Christmas this year. It kind of crept up on me.

I know last night I was in a really yucky mood about Christmas. I still kind of feel that way, though greatly diminished. I think most of my dislike for Christmas this year, comes from the fact that as a Buddhist, I don’t really have much to celebrate. I mean, the fact that I’m “in the closet” as a Buddhist is the main reason. I can’t be open about my religion. Though I have to admit, we did very little “Christian” stuff this year. Like normally we have a devotional on Christmas eve (or on Christmas day, I can’t quite remember) and we didn’t do that this year.

I don’t know. I mean, Buddhists have Bodhi Day, which celebrates the Buddha’s enlightenment, on December 8th, but that’s so far away from Christmas, I hardly consider it a “replacement holiday”.

I actually found a pretty cool website on ways to make Christmas more Buddhist. I might steal some ideas from there when it’s time for me to decorate and celebrate Christmas on my own.

I didn’t get much in terms of quantity of gifts this year. I got some chocolate covered sunflower seeds, a package of kit kats, a bracelet, a mug with a matching plate to put it on with some hot chocolate, a target gift card, and of course my new iPhone. I’m not really complaining. I didn’t really ask for anything this year and my parents warned that Christmas would be small this year because of money. That’s okay. I was just glad my parents liked their presents.

I was mostly worried my mom wouldn’t really like her gift. I mean, she would like anything I got her because I got it for her, but she seemed genuinely happy with the candles and stuff I got her. And of course, my dad liked his coffee and gift card (he already knew he was getting a gift card though).

But yeah, that was Christmas. We ate pancakes. I took a nap. Then my sister and her husband came over for lunch. I ate a lot of butter peas and creamed corn while they ate lots of meat. I mean, I did eat some meat but it was a tiny piece and I covered it in au jus to cover up the flavor.

Then we had played a board game that my sister brought. I can’t remember the name of it but the board is a map of the United States and you have to build train track routes connecting different destinations. It was pretty fun but I found the rules to be frustrating. After that game, we did more presents and then my sister and her husband left. And that was Christmas. Super exciting.

I don’t know.
I’ve been thinking about the new year and what I want it to be like. I hesitate to call my goals new year’s resolutions because in my mind resolutions have a negative connotation of something that is always broken; but I really want 2013 to be a year of health and spiritual growth.

I really want to focus on growing spiritually in Buddhism and getting healthier by going to the gym. I’m really on the fence about smoking though. I know quitting would be the healthy thing to do and there’s the added factor that quitting would be the “Buddhist” thing to do, but the addict in me isn’t quite ready yet. I don’t know. I haven’t decided. My ex said he was planning on quitting, and if he quits I’ll most likely quit too (because he’s my only smoking buddy) but like I said, I don’t know. It is a strong addiction.

But like I said I really want to focus on Buddhism and health. Buddhism especially because I feel it will help me become a happier more balanced person.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be in a committed relationship in 2013, but I’m hoping that by focusing on myself and getting myself in order, the committed relationship will come to me. You know what they say about love finding you when you stop looking for it. So that’s the approach I want to take for 2013. Focus on myself and let love find me however it may.

This is only slightly off topic, but I’m really excited because today I found a book on Amazon I really want about Buddhism. It’s called Chanting from the Heart: Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practices and it’s written by Thich Nhat Hanh (a preferred writer of mine). Well, according to the description, it’s full of chants and recitations for meditations, daily rituals, and special occasions. I have been looking for a book like this for forever. Information on chanting and the ritual aspect of Buddhism is hard to find, but it’s the one area I’ve been wanting to learn more about. I can’t wait to add this book to my collection, though I should probably read all the other books I have first. Haha.

But yeah. That was Christmas. I’m excited for the new year. I think 2013 will be a really good year and I look forward to all the challenges and opportunities it will bring.

So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody. :)

Confessions of a Confounded Twitter User

Well I have good news!!
I got my phone out of the rice today and it’s back inworking order!! Seriously, the only evidence of its swim in the toilet are a couple of tiny black lines on the screen. Other than that, everything else is fine!! The external sound is even working again.

I’m quite relieved about this, even though I’m still pretty sure I’m getting a new phone for Christmas. Apple really does know how to make a long lasting, durable product.

Hm. My mind is drawing a blank about what to write about.
I mean, I finished my Christmas shopping today and went to the grocery store, buts that’s hardly interesting.

I guess, the latest thing that’s been on my mind (meaning in the last couple of hours) is the conundrum of twitter. I have a twitter, but I still don’t really feel I’m using it effectively. I don’t know.

I want more followers on twitter but I post nothing of value that would warrant more followers in my opinion. I have no trouble thinking of things to post on Facebook, but I turn to twitter and my mind goes blank.

I guess that’s partly because I feel the stuff one posts on twitter should be relatively meaningful, whereas Facebook can just be filled with the dregs of daily life.

I just find myself lacking inspiration.
Like on here, I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but I always start out with boring stuff before my brain finally seizes on something interesting to write about. With a 140 character limit on twitter, I don’t have the space to do that. My inspiration doesn’t come compressed in small packages.

I don’t know why I attach this strange importance to twitter. I suppose this relates back to my social media post from a couple days ago. Worrying about the number of followers you have on twitter is a problem unique to our social media society.

Still, we all seek validation in certain ways, I seek the validation of total strangers. I always have. I always will. That’s why, as much as I lament the failings of social media, I will continue to use it and use it frequently.

I know I’m not the only person who seeks validation from total strangers. That’s another byproduct of our hyper-connected society. But it is what it is. I am what I am.

I just feel like I could have such inspiring and interesting things to say, if I could only figure out how to get them out of my head and onto paper. This problem isn’t unique to twitter. I feel the same way about writing a book. Writing a book is on my bucket list, and I feel I could write a really good one, if only I could find a way to organize and mesh all my thoughts into one coherent theme.

This may sound cheesy, but it’s the truth; part of me really wants to become a famous spiritual person. Like the Dalai Lama, but on a smaller scale. Like Jack Kornfield or Deepak Chopra (with less of the wishy-washy new agey stuff). Anyways, you get my picture.

I feel like social media and the Internet could be a great way to get my spiritual ideas out there, but I just don’t know how to organize them. I don’t know how to be inspiring on a daily basis. Being inspiring is hard when you have life to worry about.

I suppose they say, if you can dream it, you can do it, and maybe my problem is I’m just not making myself do it. I think spiritual inspiration is like a lot of things. In the beginning it’s difficult, but as you do it more and it becomes a habit, it becomes easy. Maybe that should be a new year’s resolution for me?? To post one inspiring thing on twitter a day. God, it sounds hard even thinking about it.

But I suppose most things worth doing are hard.
I don’t know if you can call posting to twitter “something worth doing” but trying to be inspiring or spiritual is. It’s for my benefit and anyone else who happens to read my tweets I suppose. Just to help me get and stay in that mindset of being spiritual is a good thing. I so oftentimes feel disappointed in myself for my lack of focus on Buddhism in my daily life. You’d think with as much as I love it and find it to be a source of inner peace, I would spend time studying it every day. But alas, normal life gets in the way and I can always find so many excuses.

Maybe that should be my new year’s resolution. Spend more time focusing on Buddhism. I know I’d be much happier for it.

I just find Buddhism to be so inspiring and wonderful. That’s part of the reason why I want to be a famous spiritual leader or twitter celebrity, I want to bring Buddhism to the masses!! I know not everyone will want to convert to Buddhism like I did, but I feel if I could just expose them to some of the ideas, the world would be such a better place.

Sometimes I really wish I could convert the whole world to Buddhism. Haha. But then life wouldn’t be any fun would it?? Diversity is the spice of life!! :P

Night y’all.

Oh yeah, and after all this talk about twitter, if you really wanna follow me, I’m @emilleejoyce

A Rant about the People at my Church

I really don’t know what to write about today. After I got home from church and ate lunch, my day literally consisted of not moving from the couch except to eat and use the bathroom. Super exciting, I know right??

All I know is that I can’t take 3 more weeks like today. I hate just sitting around not doing anything. It makes me feel like a bum. Not to mention it makes my back hurt.

Going to church today reminded me how much I dislike church. It’s boring and everyone there seems so fake. They all seem to put on their perfect little Christian faces so they can sit around and talk about god and pretend they’re such little Christians. Bleck.

I did a presentation on Marilyn Manson in my English class this past semester where I analyzed his music. And the people at my church, those are the people he sings about with such distaste. “They’re white and oh so hetero and their sex is missionary.”

My issue with their religious beliefs doesn’t help.
I wish I could shake all of them, make them wake up. See the world the way I see it. But it would never work. Just like I’m convinced of my ideas’ and opinions’ superiority, so they are also. As much as I think they’re wrong for believing so fervently in christianity, so would they think I’m wrong for being Buddhist.

Oh well.
It’s just disappointing to think that if I tried to engage most of them in some sort of intellectual religious discussion, they wouldn’t be able to do it. They live in their little bubble of Christianity and never step outside of it to explore or learn about other religions. Which I suppose is the saddest part.

I have complete respect for Christians who are educated about the various world religions and science, yet still choose to believe in their god. But those Christians who believe so blindly, without hardly any knowledge of the outside world, those people I have a problem with. You know I have to question a religion which endearingly calls it’s followers “sheep”.

I don’t know.
I’m tempted to digress into a rant about my issues with the religion of Christianity and why I don’t believe it’s real/true, but that would go against my fundamental tolerance for all religions. These people have made their choice, I must respect that choice, even if it bothers me. Even if I secretly believe they’re all idiots.

But surely others must understand my frustration??
I was thinking about it in church today; why do I find it so difficult to stay awake in church when staying awake in class is no problem for me?? And I think it’s because of the lack of discussion.

Oh yes, the have discussion in my Sunday school, but it never deviates from the accepted norm of Christian belief. They muse about “god’s plan” and “God’s purpose” but no one ever seems to question what they’re being taught. I suppose I’m looking in the wrong place if I want to find dissenters, but it just seems the attitude of the church favors “sheep-ism” over intellectualism.

I would love to play devil’s advocate in Sunday school but I don’t out of fear of judgement. If I played devil’s advocate, not only would it reflect badly on me, but it would reflect badly on my mom. “She hasn’t been a proper guide for me, she’s failed some how.” That sort of stuff.

And then I wonder why our pastor always seems to be making a call to action. I think I’m right in assuming most of our congregation are converts. Even if they’re not converts, they’re still required to make that monumental decision to “ask Jesus into their hearts”. That’s almost as big as deciding to convert. So what happened to that old adage about converts being of stronger faith?? Why does everyone in the congregation seem so complacent??

Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions. Maybe they’re not complacent but I just can’t tell because I don’t know their inner life. But I don’t know. I just examine my own enthusiasm for Buddhism and wonder why that doesn’t seem to translate appropriately to converts of Christianity.

I don’t know.
That’s my rant for today.
I still live in mortal fear of my “true” religion being found out. I think I would die if people at my church found out I’m actually Buddhist, even though sometimes I find myself wanting to scream it from the top of my lungs.

Like today in church, we were doing our meet and greet section of the service and a guy from our Sunday school came up to me. I’m horrible at making conversation so once the formal niceties were out of the way, I made an absent minded comment about how I almost didn’t come because I had to wake up early.

Oops!! Bad idea!!
The guy launched into a discourse about how sad it is that we put god so low on our priorities, that we can’t even wake up early for him. Stuff like that. While I understand where he was coming from and stuff, I was internally mortified because I’m not Christian, and the only reason I did come to church today was because of the societal expectation that if I’m home from college, I should be in church.

I felt like I was on trial, while at the same time, relieved that he seemed to believe my accidental lie about being Christian.

*sigh*
The stuff I put up with to conceal my true identity.
It really does make me sad that I feel I can’t share Buddhism with my family. It’s such an integral part of me now. I feel like people back home don’t really know who I am because they’re missing that part of me.

But they’d never understand anyways…

Fate is not benevolent.

So tonight I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a movie my ex tried to get me to watch several times when we were dating, but I kept falling asleep during it. So tonight, I finally watched it.

I probably wouldn’t have watched it if I had known it was going to make me cry so much. It brought back so many memories of my ex. It made me miss everything.

The one thing I took away from that movie was the idea that if 2 people are meant to be together, they will be. These characters, even after having their memories of each other erased, still found each other again.

And so I’m stuck, like many night previously, wondering about the nature of fate and debating its existence.

Fate is such an easy concept to believe in. It essentially removes all responsibility from the human. Suddenly nothing is your fault, it was just fate.

But you only have to read that once to know that’s a stupid idea. So why then, is the idea of fate still so tantalizing??

I guess because it gives one something to trust in when everything else seems to be falling apart. I think we need to distinguish though between the 2 separate ideas of fate, and the belief that “everything will work out in the end”. I think those 2 ideas are often used synonymously or in conjunction with each other.

But that’s not right. That implies that fate is some sort of benevolent factor. Fate is not feeling, fate is neither benevolent nor malevolent. It just is. When fate comes in to play, things don’t always turn out okay in the end.

So I guess when I sit here debating the nature and existence of “fate”, what I’m really debating is the concept of “everything will turn out okay in the end”.

Because for me, the idea of fate the idea of karma, are not that different from one another. I believe in karma, so believing in an emotionless, unfeeling fate isn’t that difficult. Believing that there’s some sort of benevolent undercurrent to sequence of events in one’s life, is.

I don’t know what I’m getting at here. Certainly not an answer. I’m still just as mystified by that question as I’ve ever been.

And I suppose I always will be. Because fate can’t be proven. And I feel like evidence for fate is one of those situations where you have to believe in it first before any evidence ever comes to light.

Does that make sense??

I don’t know. Add your two cents. I’m going to bed.

Buddhist Study & Practice Group at OSU

Well I think I may be able to retract my statement about the world not caring about the attack on the Sikh temple. The world still doesn’t care as much as I wish it would, but they talked more about it tonight on the news and I saw a few meager posts about it on Facebook.

So maybe the world cares a little bit.

But I still don’t know what to talk about tonight. I’ve got epic writer’s block right now.

These past 2 days I’ve been focusing a lot on getting things ready for the new school year with the Buddhist group I belong to on campus. We’re going to have a booth at the Student Involvement Fair this year, and I’m helping out with that.

I like to think of myself as kind of the PR/Social Media chair of the club. Last year I made the posters for our group. They wound up not getting distributed very much because of all the rules OSU has for “advertisements”. Ugh. But I also started and currently manage our group’s website/blog: http://osubuddhist.wordpress.com/ and I’m designing the handouts for the Involvement Fair as well.

This group is definitely something I’m passionate about. I really want to get the word out on campus about Buddhism and get our group up and running. Last year we probably only had about 5 regular members, but things are looking up – especially with the Involvement Fair on the horizon.

Basically everyone attends the Involvement Fair and it’ll be a great way to get out name out there. I feel a lot of people might have an interest in Buddhism if they could only learn more about it. Especially kids who may be jaded from organized religion.

Our biggest problem right now is actually getting attendees at our meetings. We have over 50 members of our Facebook page, yet only 5 or so people actually show up at our meetings. Another problem is getting more undergraduate involvement. I’m basically the only active undergraduate in the group, everyone else are graduate students.

It’s a great conundrum. How do you 1.) attract new members 2.) get the word out about your group 3.) have regular meetings and 4.) host campus-wide events on a budget of about $200?? We don’t have the money to have professional posters made or send campus-wide email blasts or whatever else like the bigger groups on campus. It’s definitely a brain teaser.

But yeah, this has been my focus recently. Like I said, I’m really passionate about this student organization and I want want want it to be successful. We could have such an impact on campus!! People just don’t know what they’re missing.

Anyone got any pointers?? Haha. We could really use the help. And hey, if you’re in Columbus near the OSU area and have an interest in Buddhism, please come visit us!!

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