Yesterday a friend of mine called with some great news, indicating he had found contract work at a Catholic hospital on the eastern United States Coastline.

Without even thinking, I replied, “Well that’s great news. I am proud of you.” Without reflection, I almost quipped an add-on, “Oh by the way, tell the Priests I said, Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem!” For those unfamiliar with The West Wing, “Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem,” (to hell with your punishments! and to hell with you!) was extracted from the “Two Cathedrals” episode and occurred when fictional President had a deep one-on-one conversation with God.

While it may appear from a prima fascia perspective that I harbor some personally deep seated hatred for the Catholic Church, but I don’t. I was never abused by a Catholic Priest or clergy. I was never outwardly criticized or compelled to participate in some repugnant act. But more so, when I had a personal failure in the eyes of the community and I requested not so much redemption but forgiveness, I was given none. And to this day, I remain forgiven by God, but unforgiven by the community.

Two years since my fall from the Catholic Church, I still wonder how those of whom I requested forgiveness could go to the ‘Cross’ of Good Friday and completely forget a key verse of the Christ’s Beatitudes, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” and “…forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” I believe the famous columnist Anna Quindlen captured my thoughts quite well when she recently quoted on NPR’s Fresh Air, “The Catholic hierarchy has been disinviting people like me that I finally took the hint.”  Thus, like her, I left.

Maybe my ‘West Wing’ quip still echoes a hint of anger, but it passed extremely quickly. But I remember Buddhism’ first precept of do no harm: that one must not deliberately kill any living creatures, either by committing the act oneself, instructing others to kill, or approving of or participating in act of killing. It is a respect to others’ lives.  As I walk through my day, I sometimes find I act with the best of intentions, but I fail miserably, finding some thoughts far from good, but my action helps others nonetheless. As the Apostle Paul exclaimed in Romans 7:15, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

On the other hand, I often ponder if inaction is just as bad as action? For example, Batman’s infamous quote to Henri Ducard, I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you perfectly exemplifies the circular argument.  Still most criminal statues would classify a similar non-action as manslaughter.

The Buddha quoted, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” The Book of Proverbs chapter 23 verse 7 quotes the same. ‘As a Man Thinketh’ is a literary essay by James Allen and is written in terms of responsibility assumption.

Here’s a quote from Allen’s book:

          Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,

          And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes

         The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,

          Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —

          He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:

          Environment is but his looking-glass.

For me, as the Dhammapada has taught, all that we are is the result of what we have thought. I will continue to think, “Do no harm.” And to the Catholic Church, “I forgive.” Hopefully, some day, they will forgive me.