My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Greetings from
the gods

>> East-West Center

Wearing saffron and crimson robes, sitting cross-legged on a golden cushion, hands in the meditation position -- fingers cupped together just below the navel, thumbs lightly touching -- the second Lama Jey Tsong Khapa began his comments to Hawaii's religious leaders at Jefferson Hall by saying "I bring you greetings from... "

Several of his listeners were thinking ahead, assuming he'd finish the sentence with "... his holiness the Dalai Lama."

Holy bad assumption!

"... Jesus."

A hush fell over the room. Was the young lama converting to Christianity?

"I bring you greetings from Moses and Muhammed.

"I bring you greetings from Shiva and Zeus.

"I bring you greetings from the Great Spirit, from the wood spirits, from Madame Pele.

"I bring you greetings from Buddha and from all the prophets and gods who speak to people of truth and compassion."

A murmur swept through the room. Most members of the Interfaith Council were expecting a few bland comments about how nice it was to be back home in Hawaii again after 16 years in the Himalayas. Of the journey he had made, both physical and spiritual. Of his plans. Nothing very heavy.

Instead, here he was addressing them on behalf of their own gods and prophets, speaking for them. And treating them as all the same, their real God and all the false ones! How could he? How dare he?

"I bring you these personal greetings from conversations I have had with these gods and prophets as we walked together among the eons."

"Oh boy, here we go with the reincarnation crap," a Synod Lutheran pastor whispered.

"In the realm of the gods and the enlightened ones, it is understood that we all work for the same cause, to ease the suffering of all people and creatures of this world."

There was a stirring, a grumbling. But a few heads also began to nod, HPD Officer Quinn Ah Sun noted from the back of the hall.

"The creator, the light, the force, whatever different cultures call it, is such a vast unity, so wondrously multi-faceted, it can only be seen in small snapshots. And so in its compassion, it offers many facets, many snapshots. Buddha is one of those. Jesus another, Moses and Muhammed... "

"You callin' Jesus just a Kodak moment?!" a Southern Baptist argued.

"Polytheist!" one of the Muslim imams shouted from across the room.

Polytheist? Uh-oh, Quinn thought, them there's killin' words.

The imam pulled a plastic dagger from the leather cover of his Koran and charged the lama, who remained placidly in his position of meditation.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at



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