After almost 20 years of directing Shingon Shu Hawaii, you would think I have seen it all. For the most part, I can tell you that I have seen some weird things, but probably have a lot more to experience given the many shades of gray your average person comes in. I don't think 50 shades covers even a small amount of the grayness we can exhibit during our daily interactions.
One of the most interesting and perplexing to me is the particular shade a person is when they come to a sanctuary (church, temple, synagogue, mosque, hut, etc.). One day I will probably get the nerve to sit down and write a book on the varied people that walk through the temple's threshold, full of religious fervor, superstition, fear, guilt, and a whole lot of hope. The hope that whatever they did during the week will be forgiven by offering a few sticks of incense. The hope that bringing flowers to a loved one's niche in our columbarium will erase years and years of possible guilt, and perhaps neglect in the twilight years of that loved ones life. The hope that a minister will sit in front of you, dust you with powder, then do some incantations and hand motions, and that will relieve you of all the negative karma accumulated on your shoulders you inexorably collect just by living day to day. I find it interesting, because for a brief moment, the person turns into a bright shining white. Cleansed of all the crap they uttered or did just by inhabiting this gigantic dust ball we call our home. But the grayness is there. Just behind the next corner. Just over the next hill you are driving over. We fill ourselves with fear, doing things in a "proper" way because a priest told us it is so. You must have services on these dates. You must perform these obligations or your ancestors will be very angry. You must have me perform these services or things will just not be right. We do all that just to get rid of that horrible gray. And yet...we love that gray. We adore that gray. We cling to it. We revert to that gray, shunning the bright white light of good karma, because it hurts our eyes, as if we were actually like the vampires that exist in cheap teen novels.
Some of the biggest hypocrites are people who believe they "go to church". Maybe sporadically. They are not the ones that help with the cleaning, and endless chores that make it possible for a church or temple to run smoothly. They donate...making sure it is tax deductible. With that donation comes a belief that they have a say not only in how the temple or church is run, but in how other people within the congregation should live, dress, speak, or be intimate with. They come to service, if there is something going wrong with a member of their family. They are gray...dark gray. Almost black. Because is there anything worse, layperson or clergy, who wrap themselves in the righteousness or entitlement that they believe their religion owes them? There isn't. That is the suchness of their kind. How do we handle this then? By knowing that gray really goes with everything! The right gray is just right with either black or white. The right gray is classy, subdued, and tasteful. The right gray is the ultimate color of the middle way. Feel entitled...to a degree. Feel righteous...in the right amount. Be gray, in a cool way.