Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 10

You might be wondering why I haven’t delved into some of what I’ve learned from Buddhist literature yet. I’ve decided to save that for my Sunday writings. I want the rest to remain as a diary. I’ll discuss the literature and texts in greater detail soon enough.

And since this is a somewhat private diary, I thought I’d share a somewhat private story. I was chatting with my mom the other morning and she said something about me spending Easter Sunday in a temple. She wasn’t offended or anything. It was quite the contrary actually and, for a southern Protestant who ardently believes that the Greatest Generation truly was great, she’s become quite progressive in her mid-life. She did, however, have a couple things to say.
“Oh, you’re not going to raise your children Buddhist, though.”
Flashback to 1988. The Hogan family is enjoying Chinese cuisine at the only place we ever enjoyed it: The Golden Dragon (which is still there). From the street, you could see the large yellow and red pan-Asian dragon that towered over a portion of the parking lot and whose tail curled in to form an awning over much of the sidewalk leading to the doors. On either side of the double-doors were two fishponds with several full-grown koi in each. I would always toss pennies in them even though a prominently placed sign forbade such behavior. Little George Hogan didn’t care, though. He was the baby of the family and very much the little brother who wanted to show off to his big sister. She never seemed all too impressed.

Once inside, however, the ambiance of the restaurant seemed to change. I’ve been to tons of Chinese restaurants in America, Korea and China, but this one still stands out. The layout of tables made it more like a maze than a dining establishment and the lights were so dim that there were only a couple ways one could make their way through the restaurant without tripping. And I never did see a kitchen although there was a lot of talk of it.

On one wall, there were candle-like light fixtures shining upon dynastic Chinese armor and, besides the light which spilled in from the front doors, there was only one thing that marked the path: a giant bronze Buddha. It was, in fact, Happy Buddha, but I assure you, he was not a jolly character in my impressionable eyes. Remember, little George Hogan was a trouble-maker. Nothing serious, but like a chigger, I could certainly get under the skin with relative ease and irritate even the most patient of people. As a lazy management tool, my mother (I'm quite certain that my father wouldn't have come up with this) decided to make that four-foot Buddha --an eternal symbol of non-violence and compassion-- a murderous, menacing character.
"You you keep this up, then the Buddha will take you to the back and chop you up."
Before judgment is loft upon my mother, this was said in relative jest. She was always very fair to people and other religions; it was just a fun(ny) tool to control a bratty little boy who probably would have preferred to be eating down the street at the American restaurant, rather than the darkened Asian dive. Regardless of how tongue-in-cheek this threat was, it planted a somewhat distrustful and fearsome seed in my spongy mind. I knew that this particular Buddha wouldn't eat me (he was a statue), but Chinese people had some sort of connection to Buddha, were they going to eat me?

I know there's a tendency to overanalyze these types of things as we get older, but I guess I've been wondering why it was so automatic for an middle-aged progressive American women to assume that her son wouldn't consider raising his children  Buddhist. Even more so, I've lived in Korea (a largely Buddhist nation), traveled around Asia a lot and am married to an Asian women. Is it that farfetched?

This highlights one of the things I've noticed about Buddhism: they're not trying to recruit people by denouncing, rejecting or minimzing others. Their message is there for those who seek it. I’ve talked to many Korean Buddhists so far and not a single negative word has been breathed about the other major religions.

Buddhism seems to be like the adult in a room for of screaming children.


  1. Hmm ... learned about a whole new side of my little sister. Ha!
    Like the tolerant side of Buddhism for sure. We could use more of that in this world.

  2. You should ask Kristin about the witch babysitter that she almost had several times. Did Harriet learn it from your mom or was it something she picked up in early 70's Child Ed classes?

  3. Wait a with all children's way exaggerated that one. First of all the Buddha that I suggested might be sinister sat up a few stairs in a separate room that really was only used when the restaurant was very busy. That meant never, so it was usually dark. I did say this in jest but NEVER, and I mean NEVER did I say it will "chop you up"!!! What? I did say "get you" in jest. And, hey, I think all of teasing over the years gave you and your sister your wonderful senses of humor. Now I do appreciate your thoughts on my "fairness" though!

  4. Okay....Kristin laughs about that!! I think??!! ;)

  5. I am shocked to think my sweet, little sister would even dream of a "witch babysitter" for your angels. We had one like that years ago who terrified us, and your Mom ended up leaving a half eaten sandwich in her sofa!

  6. I don't think so, HArriet. That Buddha was at the front. I remember him.

  7. Nooooo...the Buddha I referred to was at the top of a few stairs. There very well might have been one as you walk in also but the other one was better because it was in a darkened room. You must remember that...or did your college years weaken your memory??!!

  8. wonderful memories.......and I guess I wasn't impressed by your throwing coins as I don't remember. I was and am still most impressed by your ability to attract "weird bugs". ;)