A Prayer of Service

Is religion the organization, the belief, or the act?

A lot of people these days seem to have disdain for religion. It is easy to see why. It is a contentious subject, perhaps the most contentious subject since the dawn of humanity. It is so contentious, in fact, that the history of humankind is essentially the history of religious wars.

Perhaps I have been fortunate. The religious people I have grown up around, from my grandparents to my parents-in-law, in spite of their vastly different religious traditions, have been some of the kindest, most gracious, humble, and generous people I have ever met. It is difficult to say whether or not religion was a causal factor in their goodness or whether they were and are simply good people at their cores, but it gives me pause.

My mother-in-law, for example, whenever there is an event or ceremony at the Cambodian Buddhist temple, wakes up before the sun and begins prepping vast amounts of food for the monks. She does not cook for status or notoriety. It is likely that no one besides her and our family even knows which dishes she cooked, but she does it exactly because it is generous. It is the act of giving that is religious to her. It is the act of giving that is her prayer.

-Robert Van Valkenburgh teaches Taikyoku Budo & Gracie Jiu-Jitsu at Kogen Dojo

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