"I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore." (178)
My apologies to any friends and family members out there who might be shocked by this. I'm not entirely open about it.
This is not to say that I don't believe in anything, because I do. This is not to say that I completely abhor organized religion, though I do a little (mainly due to my personal struggles with Catholic hierarchy). I consider God an integral part of everyone's lives, and that God can be seen in everyone, but I don't need to wave my personal flag about it. For me, spirituality is an individual journey. I realize this is not the case for everyone, just me.
Now, religion is a loaded and touchy subject, so please don't take offense by anything I say from here on out. I am only speaking for myself. We each have our own paths. My path may not work for the next person as his or her path may not work for me. That doesn't mean we can't end up at the same place at the end of our journeys.
So, a little introduction to my path thus far...
The reason I mention this is because Leia was (still is, presumably) Buddhist. To my rebellious teenage mind this was perhaps the coolest thing I had ever heard. What? Someone who lives in the Midwest who's *not* Christian? It took me a while to wrap my mind around it. She introduced me to her parents, who answered lots of questions from me, showed me their prayer room, and even took me on a trip with them to visit the temple in Chicago.
The whole experience had a huge impact on my vision of what religion could be. Since that time, I have been fascinated with Eastern religions and philosophies. I won't lie and say that I've actively pursued anything—there's a Tibetan monastery just outside of the city limits and I've never been even though they have open prayer meetings on Saturday mornings—but my fascination lives on.
Some of my favorite quotes from this section:
"The Yogis, however, say that human discontentment is a simple case of mistaken identity. We're miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character." (122)
"So I sang the Gurugita to my nephew Nick, to help him sleep. Sometimes he has trouble sleeping because he cannot still his mind.... I filled the song with everything I wished I could teach him about life.... And, of course, I called my sister the next week and she said that—for reasons nobody could understand—Nick suddenly wasn't having trouble falling asleep anymore." (169)
About her hour of perfectly still meditation: "When it was all over, I stood up, walked to my room and assessed the damage. I counted about twenty mosquito bites. But within a half an hour, all the bites had diminished. It all goes away. Eventually, everything goes away." (174, emphasis mine)
"The former Catholic nun (who oughtta know about guilt, after all) wouldn't hear of it. "Guilt's just your ego's way of tricking you into thinking that you're making moral progress. Don't fall for it, my dear."" (183—gee, I wonder why this resonates with me...)
A quote Liz gives us: ""All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop," wrote the sage Kabir." (199)
"The Hopi Indians thought that the world's religions each contained one spiritual thread, and that these threads are always seeking each other, wanting to join. When all the threads are finally woven together they will form a rope that will pull us out of the dark cycle of history and into the next realm." (208)
Now, for the actually book club discussion :)
After all that I wrote above, can you believe this is hard for me to answer? I think I've had a couple over the years, though none were quite as tactless as Richard could be. Not to give the obvious answer of my best friend and husband, the best example would have to be my friend Joey, also from my high school years. While he might try and sugar coat it just a little, he never feared telling me exactly what he thought—and it definitely upset me a couple of times. But through it all, Joey was one of my closest friends. Oddly enough, he still is. We lost touch with each other once we went to college, but a couple of years ago he found me on MySpace (just because I deleted my account). We exchanged phone numbers and one evening talked for close to two hours. It was as if no time had passed. We don't talk on the phone much now, but we're friends on FB and he's one of my followers here (Hi, Joey!). Hopefully someday we can get back to the point where he'll give me the naked painful truth again, but I think we have to talk more frequently for that :)
Okay, this was a really long post. If you made it this far, thanks! Give yourself a round of applause! :)