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Is Your Neighbor A Buddhist?

Do you know someone who is so beloved by animals that they immediately cuddle up to them? Someone who has had things stolen from them and inexplicably returned? Who is “religious” about what they eat and how much they weigh? How about someone who is active in politics and has a progressive mind set? Know anyone who is tolerant of others? What about that person who is genuinely interested in other people? Who gets spotted in a crowd and everyone sings or claps? Do you know someone who moves toward what they dislike in order to change it instead of away? How about that person you know that dropped out of college to pursue a different career path? Who do you know that is a perfectionist? Someone who composes songs? Someone who has helped another get started? What about that person you know that names their characters after family members? Do you know someone whose mother still knits them sweaters?

What do all these people have in common? They were all one person: Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

I was lucky enough to read this article in a friend’s journal the other day. And I found myself wondering, even though he was a Presbyterian minister, if Fred Rogers might not also be Buddhist…because he certainly personified many Eastern principles as well.

I’ve written before about how the idealism behind all faiths is essentially the same. But what about the term “neighbor” itself? The days of borrowing a cup of sugar or having a bit of gossip over the backyard fence are mostly behind us. So it seems to me we have to think in terms of everyone being our neighbor...especially when people are as close as a click or Skype away. With that in mind, you want to look for the qualities listed above as a good reference point for how you choose neighbors. And, interestingly, they probably won’t be the people you expected!

My husband is one of those people that animals love. To our mutual embarrassment, I’m usually ready to cuddle up to anyone else’s pet we come across—but invariably the animal runs right to him! My boss, being a power lifter, is very careful about what he eats and that he weighs enough for his meets. I once enjoyed dinner in a group with Mark Lenard (who played Spock’s father in Star Trek the Original Series). I never forgot how he wanted to hear all about every one of us instead of talk about himself—not what you’d expect in an actor! And I have a cousin who is bravely writing a memoir about her family. Just yesterday, we met a man named Chris on the street who asked us for a dollar. He told us he lives at a homeless shelter downtown, but on the weekends visits his elderly mother and helps her do things she can’t around her home.

I’m proud to have all of these people as my neighbors. Won’t you tell me about yours?



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 20th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
Diane was a neighbor to me when I needed to go to work to support the family, but also had to figure out how to supervise my three youngest, ages 11, 12 and 13. She took them in after school every day, supervised them doing their homework and playing computer and got their help doing dishes and helping with her book collection. She asked the boys to teach her more about the computer as "payment".

Tommey has been a friend and neighbor to us since my oldest son helped him through the teenage angst of losing a girlfriend. He provided a free space for my kids' band to practice and perform. He gave me a nanny job lead and a recommendation when I needed to quit teaching day care because of the job it was doing on me physically. He teaches art and photography to disadvantaged kids in his neighborhood. He organizes and runs art shows, music nights and ethnic festivals, helping young (and old) artists and musicians get themselves known. He is always willing to give a hand to others.
Sep. 5th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
You've been very priveleged...
...to know these wonderful neighbors--yay!
Aug. 21st, 2011 06:41 am (UTC)
What do all these people have in common? They were all one person: Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

You're kidding? I did not know all that about him!
Sep. 5th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
I didn't either!
The article from my friend was a real eye-opener. :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )