Last nite I sat at the Sacramento Buddhist Mediation Group (SBMG), it meets in the Congregation B'nai Israel Synagogue. Last night they had a 20 minute (normally 40) but cut it short to have a sharing circle. The sitting had about 45 people, the circle had 30… I didn’t have to, nor did I want to share, this being my first time, I just needed to listen, to be quiet. I was deeply moved by the consultation, love and tolerance – age, gender, race. The way the group shared their ideas on the theme – detachment, was deeply moving to me. They are very, very simple, 3 hits on a bell, and silence…
Since coming out, and doing work with GLBT issues in the Baha’i community, I have hidden under a rock, under a mistaken belief that I could act as a isolated believer in a very hostile country. When they came after me anyway… it gave me great pause. I dearly love Baha’u’llah, but his community is a mess, and well “by the fruits”.
Since 1976 I have been told things like don’t judge the revelation by the community, now I wonder what is keeping things from moving, maybe it’s just a nice idea, but it doesn’t work. There really isn’t, after all these years, much at all to show for the effort, (ok some marginally nice gardens here and there) other than a lot of disillusioned former Baha’is and a some very arrogant “much a about do nothings”. It remains a rather insignificant mean-spirited cult, at least as far as I have experienced it, and if it disappeared (as it has here in Sacramento) wouldn’t be noticed or missed at all.
I thought that by being open and out about my loss of rights something could happen. Initially I received a lot of encouragement… but it has been counter balanced by the silence, the indifference, arrogance, bigotry and homophobia of the Baha’is themselves. There is so much dysfunction both in the straight Baha’i response, and within the GLBT Baha’is that it has become a real spiritual burden. I can no longer deal with my anger, pain, the bigotry and the homophobia others have thrown at me. I am just not strong enough.
I cannot do this alone like this any longer, and on a day to day community level, it’s just not enough to recharge my batteries. The Baha’i Faith despite asking for a lot, have offered nothing for a very, very long time. It appears that I have been attached to some hope, some pie in the sky dream… and suddenly woke up. I feel a little silly for having held on to it for so long.
Last nite showed me that I no longer need to do this any longer. I am in need of some community and nurturing, yet not a lot of odd rules or structure. SBMG has been around for a couple of decades, and does not seem nutty or fanatical, or all “new agey”, or wrapped up in the “how to do it” which is also kind of nice as well. They seem like a diverse bunch of solid, nice people, who enjoy sitting in silence once a week in community. They rather operate like a feast (but it works!) some news, someone takes a turn at leading the meditation / watching the clock, etc. there is no clergy. They told the new folks and visitors about themselves briefly – that the tradition is not to approach people unless you invited them to (I did) that they do not want to get bogged down by bowing and stuff… and that they do invite people to come from a number of Buddhist traditions and communities to share technique and ideas.
After it was all over, and we were putting the pillows and chairs back, I approached the man who welcomed us and introduced the timekeeper, and we talked. He asked me if it was my first time with them “yes!” He asked me how I found out about Buddhism, and told him about being attracted to it for many years, and then when I was in Kathmandu living near Boudhanath Stupa I really was able to become quiet… he shared about his wife and his trips there… and we talked a bit about what we both saw and learned. It was very nice. For some odd reason I also added that I had been thrown out of the Baha’i community, and was searching for a quiet place to rid myself of my anger and hurt… He almost started to cry, put his hand on my arm, looked up at me and said, “You will find that you are most welcome here”.
I cried all the way home.
Not sure why I am sharing this, other than I feel I made a major break thru last nite, in so far as healing. And to say, that the Baha’is seem more and more irrelevant to me, and how sad I am about having to let go of it.
I am going to return to this sangha. I recognize that I am really very damaged and reluctant to be around any organized religious expression. But for me, and I can only say this works for me, there is something helpful about sitting in silence with 45 other people. I don’t know where this is taking me, but I need to rid myself of the toxic anger that is threatening to consume me re: Baha’i, my family, my work, and the general condition of the country before I move abroad… so who knows, for now I will focus on quieting the voices, and simplifying things a bit.
Maitreya Buddha protect us all!
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