Last winter we went to India. I kept a journal, and posted a travelogue when I got home, but for some months I didn't write anything else about the trip. This fall, that changed: I wrote an essay about the India experience, and how it both impacted and was impacted by my Jewishness and my involvement with Buddhism. It's called "There and Back Again" and it's been published here.
Here's a teaser:
JuBu is a patchwork identity, but it may be the closest I’m going to get to a label that doesn’t itch. I want I-Thou relationships and a fundamental consciousness of nonduality at the same time: if that doesn’t make me some kind of pushme-pullyou, I don’t know what would.
On my better days, I see an appealing complementarity in the two impulses. On the one hand, the distance between God and world, waiting to be bridged; on the other hand, an awareness of how illusory those categories, and that distance, really are. The prophetic (Jewish) call to action balanced by a (Buddhist) sense of how my actions in the world shape my karma. Two traditions ought to give me two useful lenses through which to see the world, ensuring that I can always keep things in perspective and in focus.
That was the theory. But would it carry me through my first trip to India intact?
There and Back Again: A JuBu's Passage to India is published in the December 2005 online edition of Zeek. Enjoy!
(And hey, get your friends and loved ones subscriptions to the print edition for Chanukah. They're a fine magazine and they offer their online edition for free; fourteen bucks isn't a lot to pay to help keep them going.)