This Sunday I get to speak at a church outside of Austin. Leander: “The population was 7,596 at the 2000 census. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the 2008 population at 25,424″. It sounds like a place that will have a mix of old timers who were living in a small town now swallowed up by newcomers. Transience; impermanence; change. Very Buddhist concerns.
Currently I’m reading Karen Armstrong’s BUDDHA. She is very enjoyable to read, touching on facts with good insights, her own views shared but not stressed… she is helpful. What I’ve gotten today is that there was massive shift going on towards urbanization and mercantilism with a focus on individualism, over and against agrarian traditional cycles. The Upanishads were a reworking of Vedic thought to express the idea of the ethical life over and against ritual. “How to live a good life, how to be a good person” sort of thing. I keep coming back to that.
So Gotama is living on the edge of flux and was rather bold to launch off in this innovative pursuit. That’s the tone right now in the book. I’m reading it because I’m wanting to keep refreshing my understanding of Buddhism and of questions of how to live well.
What are the questions that the folks in Leander are asking? Not sure. What do they want to hear from the guy who went of to Asia? That every day in every way things are getting better and better? Typically what I hear from other cross-cultural workers who speak is that they wrestled through the decision to leave home and go serve the Lord, it was a struggle coping with living one stop from the end of the world, but that God was generous and they had a couple of personal breakthroughs. I’ve lived that, so I could go with that. But I’m kinda wanting to do something more.
I have an odd way of using preaching not as a way to underline truth as much as a way to explore questions. Like writing this obscure blog, I do slightly better thinking in front of others than just inside my own head. There is some stabilizing effect by involving others (sometimes).
So the big question for me is how to contain the whole (unity) in the personal (diversity). How do I live my own life in a way that does not presume to solve the over-arching questions of the world (delusion, that.), but does not simply avoid them and settle for amusement and personal happiness management (also helped greatly by cagey delusion).
The next big thing for me is to tidy up my understanding of the intrinsic limitation of knowledge. That is then combined with the inescapable responsibility to go forward with acting in life in real time and space. How do I bumper-sticker that? “Ignorance is no excuse for inaction”. Too bad Nike has already taken the ultra-concise version.
BIBLICAL truth of limited epistemology. I’ll make that it’s own post I suppose.