Friday, April 3, 2009


This evening, I entered a brightly lit, ornate redstone building covered in scaffolding on East 15th on the border of the Village and Chelsea. I met my best friend, RJ, there--after a hasty cab ride as I thought I was going to be late--to attend evening chant. RJ had recently started attending prayer services at this Buddhist Society, and I, a Christian pan-theist, gladly joined him.

It was nothing like I expected.

To begin with, the chanting had started early. We entered a room filled with a Bennetton spread of nationalities literally humming with the Nichiren Buddhist chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo (for those that love them some Tina Turner and have seen What's Love Got to Do With It a half million times as I have will recognize this as the chant she was taught). The chanting and the room were alive with energy. The sound jumped directly into my chest, and before my butt hit the seat I was chanting along with the crowd.

As I looked around, I noticed young and old, Asian, Latino, Jewish, Black, and White filling the room (thanks to Tina Turner the largest groups were black folks and a pan-Asian hodgepodge--and true to form most of the black folks arrived late as hell including the Afro-Latin@s). The service was simple, except the five minutes of the liturgy which sounded like a Buddhist monk on meth, and largely consisted (except for that five minutes) of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo which means I commit myself to the cosmic law of cause and effect and to the ultimate universal truth expressed through sound. Damn that little old Japanese/Sanskrit phrase packs a lot of punch.

I fell into the easy rythym of the chant. About half way through, RJ looked up and said, "call me." Which is a code word for HOT MAN. I paused in my chanting to appreciate the Latin thick 'em that was moving out to take a call. Yes, the Buddha is good. Hey glory.

About 15 minutes into the service, I found myself chanting and rocking back and forth to the vibration of the sound. And then I experienced a strange and awesome sensation. I felt as if a cool fire was emanating from my they had killed the little brown ass would have been all a glow. It was a cool feeling. And then the little Japanese women next to me, who arrived late I might add, started chanting out of rythym and threw off my feng shui...and I lost my glowing feeling. But for a minute I felt like Bruce Leroy...whose the master? I am!

I have always believed in God. It's been both a blessing and a curse. He and I have not always gotten along, but I've always believed in him. This was an entirely different way of experiencing him. And one that I will be repeating. I am no hero for opening myself to the experience, but I am proud that I was enable to enhance my faith journey...even if it was a little bit Barry Gordy style.


  1. Japanese baby, not Chinese. Good for you! SGI is definitely a vibrant community!!!

  2. Ooops my bad ;-). I will correct that up. And SGI was AWESOME!


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