My mother and I attended a potluck and panel discussion about love at the Drolma Center yesterday night. The food was some of the most amazing food I've ever had at a potluck dinner, and it was all either vegetarian or vegan. You couldn't ask for a nicer group of people. It's really too bad that the sangha doesn't have these events more often.
The love panel discussion was very interesting. All of the panelists were Buddhists, but many audience members were Hindus, Christians or at least not Buddhists. (My mother is a Christian and looked shocked when the panel asked all of the Buddhists present to raise their hands, and I raised my hand. Yes, I am a Buddhist.) What made the discussion really interesting was the different perspectives from which people answered questions about love and Buddhist beliefs. I learned about the The 5 Love Languages, which I had never heard of before. There was some discussion about viewing all other beings, including our pets and enemies, as having been our kind mothers, which I often forget to do. It's a great practice to help develop compassion. I also gained a new perspective on dating and following a spiritual path at the same time.
You see, for a long time I had been dating Ricky and quite confused about what I was doing. When I was 15 years old, my best friend asked me if I thought I would get married and have kids. I told her no then. A few years ago she asked me again, now that she's married and has a child. I told her my answer was still the same, but in the back of my mind, the answer might not have been the same. I had a lingering feeling about my relationship with Ricky that we needed to get married. I don't know why. I didn't really believe that we needed to get married in order for our relationship to be good, but maybe the last vestiges of Christianity in my mind were telling me that it would be wrong not to get married.
At the sangha discussion at the Drolma Center, there was a lot of talk about each person being on his or her own spiritual path and how nothing is forever. Maybe two people can have a lengthy, committed relationship where they support each other's goals, or maybe one of the partners dies tomorrow. Maybe the partners grow apart as their paths diverge. We never know what will happen tomorrow, so we need to be mindful of the present. Since then, I've been thinking about it a lot, and I've realized that I don't need to get married to be happy or to have a good relationship. There will still be societal pressures to marry, but I can feel confident in my choices, whether I get married or not. There is nothing about Buddhist beliefs that requires me to get married.
I learned a lot and had a great time at this event. Plus I picked up a new recipe, which I will post after I try it out at home. I'm strongly considering emailing the Drolma Center and inquiring about whether similar events couldn't be scheduled more often. It was such a good sangha-building event.