Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dharma Warrior and "The Mormons"

I actually found myself watching most of PBS's "The Mormons." On Monday, we were channel-surfing, and I put it on an A&E rerun of "The Sopranos." However, it wasn't one of the better epsiodes, and DW turned it to PBS. Last night, I got back from the Zen center and found DW watching part deaux. She commented about how she had forgotten much of the early history of the LDS Church. She is a multigenerational Mormon, so that history is her history. I'm a second-generation Mormon, so I can't personally lay claim to that history. Moreover, it's a fascinating history, the bad along with the good, and it's a shame more people don't know much about it.

The post I originally drafted about part one used a comment by feminist Mormon Margaret Toscano as a jumping-off point to discuss how, since my early teens, I've been tied up in knots over specific personal issues that somehow got whooshed up with the Church in my mind. On the drive home last night, I remember that a Zen author--I think it was Kosho Uchiyama--described zazen as a sword that cuts through the knots in one's mind. I was pleased by the image of myself as a dharma warrior, chopping away at my own mental knots.

Not even part two of "The Mormons" could mess with that image, and a number of the issues that have bothered me about the Church were discussed during the segments I saw. That's not to say I've changed my mind about any of these things; I guess I've just gained enough distance from them that I can look at them without investing much emotion into them. I suppose it helps that I never experienced first-hand the pain of people like Trevor Southey and Margaret Toscano, who were formally expelled from the LDS Church and were rejected by their loved ones, while I just slowly drifted away. Were I in the position of people who had been kicked to the curb on the basis of my scholarship (Toscano) or my sexuality (Southey), I'm sure I would still feel very hurt by it. Come to think of it, I'm still a little stung by the way my family was rejected by the local congregation. So, with the metaphorical sword of zen in my right hand, I walk the path of the dharma warrior, chopping away at those metaphorical knots. Now, the thought of me carrying a sword of any kind is pretty damn ridiculous; it's just one of those zen paradoxes.

ETA: The photo of Kosho Uchiyama I originally posted here disappeared, so I replaced it with the hand of Uma Thurman.


Ann said...

Awesome post, Randy. Can I link to this from the Cultural Hall?

Randy said...

Sure, why not?

Sideon said...


I like the image of "spiritual warrior." To me, it resonates with Nordic rune elements, as well as the Zen-Osho tarot archetypes.