Touching My Jewish Roots As a Buddhist

At a monthly-mindfulness sitting, Lyn Fine spoke about exploring the relationship between her Jewish roots and Buddhism. Lyn announced that the theme, "Chaos and the Emergence from Darkness," would be discussed at the Tisha B'av gathering. I lacked any knowledge of the holiday but often felt the need to both caress and throw rocks at my personal Jewish edifice. I wrote the following as an offering to the Tisha B'av gathering, in an attempt to help clarify my own mishmash of thoughts about my Jewishness: On Tisha B'av, an aspiring Buddhist looks in the mirror and finds a Jew. Tisha B'av--The meaning was foreign to me. The New York Times found its story fit to print. The holiday is: "An intense spiritual search on a national level. The temples were destroyed, expulsion from Spain, and Holocaust." It's hard to feel concern for the survival of nations. At best I can care for an individual--my wife, my children, and when I provide faces, those slaughtered at Auschwitz.

Watch the breath. Thoughts come and go. Two months ago I lay paralyzed--Why? An aberrant reaction to a virus--Why? Focused on my survival. Not the Jewish Nation. Yet, if all is empty ... I do not, cannot, exist in isolation.

So there must be an interconnection between Bronx Jewish ways and in-danger-of-being-destroyed Amazon Basin cultures. As with Tibet. Can she survive on her own soil? In diaspora. A teaching from Tibet: Everyone was once my mother and I theirs. So how can we not wish to soften the suffering for each?

All beings seek happiness. Extend the compassion to all.

But can I extend the compassion to the Jewish Nation? To the Jew in myself? Never Bar Mitzvahed. I loved the Jewish Socialists, not the religion. Later L.B. Singer, dybbuks and images of Jewish poets writing mysticism in Lower East Side dairy restaurants gave sustenance.

Look in the mirror. Yikes,a Jew who was once a Jewish momma, emanating from nations of Jewish mothers, offering their children the milk of compassion.

On Tisha B'av I sense there must be a reason for my Jewish karma. Out of my illness, perhaps, will come understanding, a kinder and gentler person. What will come of my encounter with the Jewish Nation? Left with thoughts of destruction and rebirth, darkness,and candlelight.

Rabbis Business Men Knish eaters Buddha Nature

Barry Denney New York City

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