Anne Ogden

I remind you that I was brought up Presbyterian with a Baptist father. Since that time, when I became a more “progressive” Episcopalian, drawn by a high church Anglican ritual, I thought I knew a bit about world religions, being a devoted reader of Huston Smith’s beautiful books.  However, I found myself looking up a number of BBT’s Hindu references in Chapter 2 to find out more.  One thing this activity made me realize is how little we know about, say, Hindu ritual and the meaning of it and how it might enlighten or inform our own deeply held beliefs.  I looked up “Padmavathi’s bath” to be taken to a Bed Bath and Beyond site advertising Padma Lakshimi’s (American cookbook author’s) collection of dinnerware “to add an exotic accent to any table.”   Exotic?  Erotic?  Is that what we were thinking anyway?  I admit that I haven’t pursued this line of thought any further, though I might later…but only to say that it is easy to be a critical observer of others’ sacred space on the one hand, when it feels uncomfortably foreign, and inexplicably immersed in it at the same time.  I can remember being in Buddhist temples and Zen rock gardens 40 years ago and being totally stunned by the sacred power they held.  And walking into a Catholic church in Normandy, France when I was 16 and being drawn into the darkness and then the flickering lights of the votive candles.  I lit one and was moved to tears.  I had never done that in my life.  Catholic ritual was alien to my upbringing.  What is it that draws us into itself then (if it does)?  Is it “the Other” itself?  I wonder if the young man who left BBT’s class would have been also stunned at Roanji Temple in Kyoto?   I think we all must discover this place for ourselves–that BBT’s intuition to let the young man go his way was the only reasonable way to respond.