Airborne philosophy

The airline stewardess told me she was a staunch Catholic, but she asked me questions not only about Catholicism but also about Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions. She said, "You say the Buddha and the Christ are one. How is it that the Buddha was so strict and the Christ had so much more compassion?"

I said, "You were born into a Christian family. So why do you have to worry about the Buddha? The Buddha and the Christ are one. Let us say that you are both the Buddha and the Christ."

She couldn't believe my words. She said, "I am the Buddha and the Christ?" She looked to this side and that side as if to say, "How can I believe that?"

I said, "For me, let us say, you are the Buddha and the Christ. Now, suppose you have a younger sister who did something wrong, and you are displeased with her. If I happen to be there when you scold her, I will say that you are very strict.

"Then, let us say, a few moments later you see that same sister doing something good - something that gives you tremendous joy. At that time, you will show her such kindness and affection. Now, if somebody else happens to be there while you are showing her your affection, he will see only this side of you.

"So I saw your scolding face and somebody else saw your loving affection. But you are the same person. Perhaps you have read something about the Buddha when be was being strict with his disciples. But the same Buddha has shown such tolerance and compassion many, many times. Sometimes he shows his strictness and other times he shows love and affection to mankind."

This kind of philosophical discussion we enjoyed on the plane!

— 22 November 1982