I have been a student of Buddhism for 10 years. I preach periodically from Buddhist Sutras, and an understanding of eastern religious philosophy carries over into my ministry. There is no better place to practice your Buddhism than in pastoral care. In almost every visit I make with patients in the hospital, I bring my Buddhism with me: reminding them to breathe, reminding them of the present moment, and recognizing for myself how keenly connected people in the hospital are to suffering. I carry these tools of calmness, presence, and awareness into my congregational ministry as well.
I lived with other monks and nuns for 6 months in the city of Bodh Gaya, nestled away in the Burmese Vihar. The Vihar was a pale blue, gated monastery where we lived around a courtyard that opened on to the temple. Religion and life were truly melded for me during these months, and I value the wisdom that I gained from this amazingly beautiful and intentional town. I meditated the fuzz out of my brain until I could be entertained eating pomegranate seeds for an hour. Eventually, I donned robes of a temporarily ordained Buddhist nun along with other young female students. As they say, I cut off my illusions as I cut my hair and learned to tie my orange robes. I will encourage this level of reverence, compassion, and attention to detail in any congregation I serve. My ministry will always have a strong element of presence and non-judgement, largely influenced by my time in Bodh Gaya.