I learned many things from my father. This is the first in a series of lessons from my father.
My dad taught me a method he would do. He did something very unique. You know how missionaries like Mormons and other Christian groups would walk door to door? My father, while he was still in his prime (no longer, not that I am either, but I am closer), would leave his door open.
By leave his door open, I mean he welcomed in the missionaries. Usually they went in groups of two. I have seen this with my own eyes a couple of times, as he invited me to watch. I described this method as “like lambs to the slaughter”.
After inviting in missionaries, my father who was a formerly psychological technician, the grandson of a buddhist patriach monk who spent his life growing up in temples and a significant amount of time in churches, he asked them to “discuss their religion with him”.
Then he would say “Watch.. their understanding.. is too low level for my level. They need to go get.. someone higher level to discuss.”
Now to be clear, he wasn’t saying they were wrong. He was saying “they need to get.. their instructors..” This was a very common method in ancient martial arts in Vietnam.
And I watched a couple times. As missionaries grew… frustrated.. emotionally.. unstable.. and left. They left the house. They had no words to say.
And their tea cups, left unfinished. As their tea, which we served them, grew cold, as they gave up and left. And I don’t blame them. It’s not that they were wrong per say, for my father always said “no one is wrong, and you should respect everyone’s beliefs, but before you begin this discussion, make sure you have thoroughly studied like I have.”
And I today, would laugh when I think back on these days.
Because, I still remember the few other days, years later when I had grow up.
And my dad’s tea cup… was left unfinished.
When he finally said to me, “You have beaten me.”
And I grew so proud. And he grew so proud. He would say, “Your understanding is.. impressive.”
For if another bible school teacher were to go up against my knowledge and understanding. I would leave a trail of tears, which is a true story, however, I will leave unnamed out of respect.
I have studied not all, not even close, there is just so much to read. But I read enough that, I was so proud that I beat my dad in pure rhetoric, pure logic, pure reasoning, pure knowledge like Saint John when he was bestowed the gift of wisdom by the holy spirit which allowed him to understand the holy texts to a degree above that of the scholars of his time.
I have discussed religion a few times with my friends who are of a different one than mine. Each time has ended with one crying. Or near crying. Or eyes reddened. I will leave unnamed out of respect.
I walk into the arena with a wild pig’s tooth carved into the shape of the enlightened Buddha around my neck, the symbol of courage and strength. I also once trained briefly with a Shaolin Monk from the actual Shaolin Temple in China, but that is a story for another day.
There is great wisdom in what is the gospel. I will leave that for another day as well..
But in Buddhism, for example, one of the things I study. It is not the amount of scripture you have read. Actually, Buddhists monks study 1 thing, a single page, again and again and again until they understand it. It might even be a single quote. They will study it for days. Until someone will tell them that they “understand” what it means.
It is said, that the highest learned level you can reach in Buddhism, is technically without even reading a single line of text. You have reached the highest level of understanding. That, however, was only achieved by some of the greatest Buddhas ever.
I am but a normal person with a 145 IQ. Who am I to say that I understand anything?
I just read a lot.
And I argue a lot.
And I read the good book.
And finally, I just wish I could have argued with my father when he was in his prime. To truly defeat him in discussion. And I wish I could have argued with my great-grandfather in his prime. To do him justice in discussion. That is our family way.