Larkin and Kyrie are starting to get their spiritual game on. They are asking amazing questions. They are getting more and more confident in the asking. They are making connections across religious traditions. And – the best indication in my book of true comprehension – they are cracking some really good jokes about big things.
When I was driving Larkin to Buddha knows where recently, I asked her to fish a crumpled piece of paper out of my purse and read out a really cool 11th century Buddhist commentary from a sage named Atisha that I’d recently stumbled upon online.
The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest action is not conforming with the world’s ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
A Cheshire-ish grin slowed poured across Larkin’s face as she finished, and then she quipped, “Hey, the Buddha was the ultimate hipster!”
I laughed, did my didactic due diligence and pointed out that the Buddha hadn’t actually written it but close enough, and then asked her what she meant.
“That ‘not conforming to the world’s ways’ thing. It’s just such a hipster vibe.”
She then asked what was meant by, “The greatest generosity is non-attachment.” I reminded her that attachment was how the Buddha described our fundamentally flawed way of understanding the world, which leads to our own suffering. That when we cling to things, people, ideas, whatever, it’s out of fear, because we think we are separate from all of these things rather than ultimately interconnected.
“That’s really just a mindset of Mine versus Yours, and by implication I want Mine to be Better than Yours, instead of Us, Ours, the whole We Are All One thing. So, that’s why it’s a sort of selfishness to “attach” to things, and I guess that’s why Atisha’s saying the most generous thing we can do is just let all things be, embrace everything without clinging to anything, without any need to control or judge.”
We talked a bit more about the meaning of generosity in general and quickly ended up talking about how in Buddhism the Eightfold Path is kind of the ‘how-to” list for how to become generous, which didn’t seem a far off description of enlightenment at that point. Then, we talked about why I was now a Buddhist, which basically is because I feel it best calls me to – and explains to me how to – open my heart more and more and become more and more loving.
Larkin got quiet then and stared out the windshield for a while. Then, out of the blue, she observed, “So, in Christianity something -someone else, God, Jesus – saves you, and in Buddhism, you save yourself.”
I was so impressed and readily agreed. I also asked her if she was aware how shocking some Christians would find this, the “presumption” of saving ourselves. She did. Then, she got quiet again. She continued staring out at bright hot day, and we didn’t say anything more. But, I could literally feel brightness emanating from her, a growing capaciousness in her heart. She wasn’t judging. Just… perceiving. Considering. Understanding.