I love the Dharma dearly, but sometimes I feel uneasy about the free ride that Buddhism gets from those who are prone to religious criticism. As reasonable and rational as it is, Buddhism has a very aspects which are just as silly as those found in other religions. There are times when I fear that the generally positive perception that so many people have about Buddhism is going to eventually swing the other way, and swing far. In some extreme corners this is already happening.
But I want to do my part; I want to defend against the backlash, and have good fun in doing it. Which is why I present:
Silly Stories from Samsara:
When Buddhism lacks mindfulness
One such occasion that sticks out in my mind is when I was volunteering for a certain mass-appeal Buddhist ceremony. During the ceremony, the monastics involved blessed some water and offered it to the participants to have or to drink.
However, because of the sort of ‘popular Buddhism’ nature of this particular ceremony, they felt the need to make the water look blessed, and they did this by adding a bit of safron to the blessing water. Even a small bit gave the water a vibrant yellow hue, which made it look special and very holy.
But this ceremony ended up drawing a lot more attention than those who were running it ever expected, so we ran short on blessing water. In order to make sure that there was enough for everyone, I was asked to dilute the blessing water.
Now, this isn’t really that big of a deal. It is not as if the blessings are somehow reduced by adding water – but, because of the safron added to the water, the containers which were diluted became visibly less holy. There were times when, sitting on the same table, there would be a few bottles of bright yellow liquid amongst a whole slew of containers with faint but differing levels of opacity.
Everyone wanted the yellowest blessings.