I've managed to phase in more gentleness that I didn't know I was lacking.
I made this realization a couple of days ago, but haven't written, yet, because I was concerned how my words might be interpreted. It is my intent to express love with my life, and not bigotry or prejudice. That being said....
I don't believe that I'm a very racially prejudiced person. I recognize that cultures are different, and accept it -gladly, even- and am fascinated and appreciative of a wide variety of them. I love seeing on television or in books different tribes with their elaborate ceremonies, I visited a place of the Mayans a few years ago and was fascinated, I love the formal dress of some Native American ceremonies, and am a little awed by their signs around here of "If you get out of your car and step onto our land you are subject to getting shot ," :), I want to someday visit Russia, when I see a car that's purple with iridescent orange and green and yellow low to the ground it makes me smile. The Mexican tradition Likes Color.
I don't know a lot about a wide variety of people. I study more the inside of people (where we're all the same) than the outside, and have never aside from the Mexican/U.S. border, been outside of my country. So that's limiting.
One thing I have never had any interest in is the Orient.
All of it.
Not Mongolia, not Japan, Not Vietnam, not China, not Korea, not the culture, not the Great Wall of China, not Giant Panda's, not rice fields (I don't like rice, if you can believe that), not Japanese Animation, not the dress for various celebrations, not even Chinese Dragons or Chinese New Year.
I've just never been interested. I've been thoroughly detached.
Why is that?
I have no idea.
It's like I cut off a third of our planet and its people from my consciousness.
Refusing to embrace it. Them. Us.
Funny how all that's changed now.
Now I've immersed myself in the heart (or Soul) of Asia.
I consider Thich (as I've spent so much time with him lately) my Brother, one of my Great Teacher's. I am so awed and humbled by his activism, the schools (for engaged Buddhism and peace) he founded, the souls that attended the schools who were kidnapped and often killed, the Vietnam Peace Delegation, the young people who gave their lives to feed the poor and starving children left bereft by war, on and on it goes.
I study (or try to) the Tao Te Ching.
When I meditate I try to sit on a Lotus Flower. (And not on burning charcoals, as Thay* says.)
All this might seem silly to another.
But my perspective (literally, how I see things) has changed.
All of a sudden, I feel this... loving enthusiasm for a culture, place, Heart, that I had previously cut myself off from.
It makes no sense, really.
Other than my heart has simply been expanded.
I know that not everyone in Asia is a monk or a nun, a Buddhist, or a Zen Master.
But somehow I tunneled into the spirit of the land, and arrived to find myself Awake well within its borders.
I feel eager to embrace this heretofore unexplored land. To claim this part of myself that its people represent.
To grow in my sense of Us.
*Thay (pronounced Ty) is the form of address for Vietnamese monks, it means "Teacher".