Reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead and laughing at some of the things, (mostly the wild Indian names, Eurocentric jack-ass that I am) and amazed at the detail and urgency of the text. It's all very interesting and you can study it and ponder it and then you realize with a start:
I will die some day.
That's the entire, taut tight-rope of growing up Catholic and trying to live as a Buddhist.
In Catholicism, the story is very straight-forward:
Don't do these things while you're here and you get a nice room when you go there.
That's pretty much it. God is bigger and older and smarter than you and he's not around much and he's got a violent temper, but his Son is very mellow and will talk to his Dad about you if you buddy up strong with the Son while you're here.
What little I've grasped of Buddhist thought is:
Hey. This is it. Nirvana now. Buddha means "awakened one". Wake up. It's all the suffering of illusion and the illusion of suffering.
And when you read some of the stuff, especially the Dhammapada, which is supposed to be words Buddha actually said, you're struck by the clarity and simplicity of it.
No Big Story about a volcano god and virgin births and doves whispering in people's ear. It all sounds very sane and true.
But then someone you love gets hurt. And someone else dies. And millions are wiped out by a wave. And the Buddhist in you, with great compassion, tells you it was all an illusion anyway, don't grasp on to these aggregates and hallucinations too tightly.
But the Catholic in you wants Someone to blame. And He's standing right there, all omniscient and white-bearded.
So you take another step on the swaying rope, madly balancing, arms see-sawing up and down, knowing you're going to fall one day, you were born on this rope and everyone in front of you has already slipped. And your only thought besides balance is the question that keeps arising:
When I do fall, will I scream for Jesus or Samantabhadra?
Or will I just smile and let the pole drop out of my hands and release?
I'll know soon enough, but I can't stop wondering.
Enjoy the weekend, try not to die just yet. Still plenty of things to see.