As many of you konw, there was a time during the years I practiced Buddhism that I was ordained a Tibetan Buddhist nun. I took the vows of a nun thinking it would be an aid to my practice. (There is in the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism – at least as I encountered it – a bias toward the monastic life for those who are serious Buddhist practitioners.)
I remained a nun for little more than a year. What I discovered was that I was spending so much energy trying to be a good nun – working to keep purely the various vows I took – that I felt my being a nun was actually hindering my practice rather than helping it.
I thought of that experience when I came across something Frederick Buechner wrote:
We try so hard as Christians. We think such long thoughts, manipulate such long words, and both listen to and preach such long sermons. Each one of us somewhere, somehow, has known, if only for a moment or so, something of what it is to feel the shattering love of God, and once that has happened, we can never rest easy again for trying somehow to set that love forth not only in words, myriads of words, but in our lives themselves.
We try so hard to be good Christians, just as I tried so hard to be a Buddhist nun.
Yet all we really need to do is to let ourselves “feel the shattering love of God.” From my own experience, I know that Buechner is absolutely right. Experiencing that love changes everything, doing something to us that long thoughts, long words and long sermons never can and never will. The thoughts, the words, the ideas, may open us to experience that love, but themselves are not substitute.
It is the love that changes everything.