Last night I went to an interfaith peace meeting at Swami's request. We carpooled from Vedanta.
I enjoyed the presentations by the Jew, the Sikh
, and by Swami. The rest was pretty worthless and hokey. The little songs between presentations were monotonous, and they didn't give us the words, so only the Catholics were singing, which felt uncomfortable. (It was held at a conference room of a huge Roman Catholic retreat center Christ the King
.) The Christians and Catholics said only banal cliches, dumbed down--I felt really disappointed. Peace is such an important idea, and I was alarmed that it was being handled in a sentimental way. Also, I felt the event was self-congratulatory. But I feel that way about many events--so much time wasted with introductions and, "I'd like to thank"s. As far as I'm concerned, time is precious, and wasting a hundred people's time at once is a crime....
But I'm glad I went for the Jew's presentation and prayer. And I'm glad I went for the Sikh's prayer too. Swami, of course, said brilliant things and gave the most comforting, interesting prayers, in Sanskrit and then translated.
On the car ride there, we drove in near-silence through light rain. I almost started crying because I couldn't believe we could all care about one another so much yet be so isolated from one another like that. The truth is that I didn't know the customs for riding in the same car as a holy man. I think we were all wondering what behavior was appropriate, and when in doubt, stay silent.
On the drive back, the mood was lighter. We talked more. I swallowed my timidity and asked Swami questions about a few things that have been on my mind. For example, I asked about the movie Pather Panchali
, if his life when he was a little boy was like the life portrayed in that movie. And I asked him about the translation of a particular Sanskrit term, and if Sikhs live in a certain area of India, and if the Sikhs are friendly with the Hindus--he said yes.
Anyway, there were eight of us from the Vedanta center, we got some cookies at the end, and I had a lot to think of it, though much of it was angry, especially considering the nature of the meeting.
I pray for peace every single day--it's my default prayer.