Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More




Laughing Buddha

Napa Valley, California, USA

January 14, 2018



"I do live in a monastery. My monastery is the whole world."
...   answering the question "Have you ever lived in a monastery?" 
"For me this is a practical matter. Instead of having the answer about God like some guy or some thing or some explanation or some anything, I have a space of possibility like an openness, like a place for God to show up in my life."
...   speaking with Reverend Terry Cole-Whittaker about God 
"When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky."
... Prince Gautama Siddhārtha aka Buddha
This essay, Laughing Buddha, is the companion piece to It is also the fifteenth in a group of sixteen reflections of God: I am indebted to George Swan who inspired this conversation and contributed material, and to Dorothy who contributed material.




A group of us volunteer once a month, preparing and serving lunch for homeless people in the wine country  town in California where I live. While we peeled and diced oranges for a fruit salad, a woman asked me which church I attend "on Sunday". I got her expectation in what she asked. Most of this group attends the same church in the area. I responded by saying "The world.". "What do you mean 'The world'?"  she asked, looking up. "My church is the whole world" I said, "and I attend daily.".

Photograph courtesy Buddha Groove

Material: wood finish
Height  : 12 inches

Made in Vietnam
Laughing Buddha

She paused, then countered "But our  church is the house of God.". "God is also in my house" I said, orange juice dripping from my hands. In conversations like these, my intention is to use my best enrollment self when I notice one part of me (a big  part of me) wants to tell people how to look at this. The trouble with telling people how to look at it, is it implies what I say is their truth also - which not only never works: it makes what I say unlistenable.

There's something we almost never examine completely: it's our belief that God is to be found in our  church or in any of our houses of worship actually, more than she's to be found anywhere else in the world. That said, what may be true is that we open ourselves  for God in our houses of worship, more than we open ourselves for her anywhere else in the world. But if we were to open ourselves for God anywhere, we'd find her already everywhere.

Who we are in general terms, is the space in which it all shows up. Who we are in specific  terms for the purpose of this conversation, is the space in which God shows up. If I lend credence to the notion that God only shows up in my house of worship, I am the space in which God shows up there. If I lend credence to the notion that God is found everywhere, I am the space in which God shows up here. Knowing I'm the space in which it all shows up, I can choose to empower the latter. Not knowing I'm the space in which it all shows up, I'm restricted to the former.

It takes a certain willingness to step outside of my beliefs  to discover that what limits my experience of where God shows up, is decided solely by where I believe she shows up - or in the case of her only showing up in "our"  church, where I believe she doesn't  show up. More openly, it takes a certain willingness to live from the possibility that where God actually  shows up is in the space of who I really am. Said more rigorously, who I am is the space in which God shows up. And it's being  this space in which God shows up which is arguably at the heart of all original intentions of all the great religions of our world.

Look: that's why Buddha is laughing. Really it is. Laugh with him: HaHaHaHoHo!  When you get how simple it all really is (which doesn't mean it's easy, mind you: if it were really that easy, the whole world would be both Self-realized and God-realized by now), and when you get how much you impose so much struggle on yourself unnecessarily, and when you get there's nothing you have to do  for all of it to be perfect the way it is (and the way it isn't) because it already is, and when you get there's nothing you have to do to know yourself as the space in which God shows up because you already are  ... why, you may as well have a really good belly laugh!



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