Saturday, November 20, 2010

Peter Clothier

Hello and Happy Saturday Everyone!

I wish to thank Ruby Sara for sharing her journey with us last week. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Thank you Ruby!

This week we have a new interview, so please welcome Peter Clothier.
Peter is a Buddhist and I know you will enjoy his post as well!

Here Is Peter Clothier's Introduction:

PETER CLOTHIER is a meditation practitioner who writes chiefly about art and artists in Southern California. His daily writing practice includes two blogs, “The Buddha Diaries” ( and “Persist: The Blog” ( ); and his latest publication is “Persist: In Praise of the Creative Spirit in a World Gone Mad with Commerce” (Parami Press, 2010.). He has published widely in national magazines, and is the author of DAVID HOCKNEY in the Abbeville Modern Masters series. A former academic, now twenty years in recovery, he is currently a full-time free-lance writer. He has published two novels, two books of poetry and a memoir, “While I Am Not Afraid.”

1) What religion do you practice?
I have a daily meditation practice and I join with a sitting group each Sunday. I follow the teaching of The Buddha but I do not call myself a Buddhist.

2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I came to the meditation practice late in life. I was born and raised as an Anglican by my father who was an Anglican minister. I practiced no religion for the greater part of my adult life and found in Buddhism a sane and rational religious teaching which I could follow without resorting to magical thinking.

3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
I would consider myself a liberal. Perhaps even a Socialist!

4) In your opinion, what makes you moderate/conservative/other?
My concern for social justice and the well being of the human species.

5) In your opinion, what makes someone conservative? What makes someone moderate?
Conservatism as it is practiced and preached in our culture today, seems to attract those whose self-interest is the primary goal. To be a moderate in my view is to take others into consideration.

6) What's your heaven/paradise like?
I have no vision of heaven or paradise. Nor do I believe in either.

7) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
In my opinion, there is no heaven or paradise to go to. It surprises and disappoints me that those who do believe in heaven or paradise take such a proprietary view and wish to exclude others.

8) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
It’s sane, it’s rational, it’s practical, with an emphasis on the practical. I am a pragmatist at heart.

9) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
I believe that The Buddha would see no day and every day to be a holy day. It’s always a matter of the here and now. Since my wife is Jewish we observe the Jewish festivals, but more as a matter of ritual and tradition than as religion.

10) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?

11) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
I do it all the time. See above.

12) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
My gut response is that these are the relics of a medieval way of practicing religion. At this level I find them to be barbaric. My more compassionate self reminds me to be tolerant of the belief of others, but in this case I find that to be hard.

13) What are your thoughts on women not being allowed to become priests?
Again, medieval and barbaric. Have we learned nothing?

14) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
No. My little sangha or sitting group does not segregate. I would not go there if it did.

15) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
I find the teaching of The Buddha to be an indispensible guide to a healthy and compassionate life. I do everything I can to learn from this wisdom and apply it in my daily life and every aspect of my thought. In this light, it certainly affects my opinions on controversial subjects.

16) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
It would not concern me in the least.

17) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
I certainly hope so. Just kidding. What a question.

18) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
How about the Dalai Lama? I am not a Tibetan Buddhist but in many respects he represents my views especially those on compassion and the search for happiness. There are many populists spokespersons for Buddhism, some tend to water it down or Westernize it in ways I am not entirely comfortable with, but the core message is usually pretty clear; do no harm, have compassion for others, and don’t forget to breathe.

19) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.

20) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?

21) Does your religion give you peace of mind?

22) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
This is a very hard question and one that stands between me and an unreserved embrace of Buddhism. My rational, doubting self finds it impossible to conceive of returning to this life in another form. Perhaps, if it’s no more than a transmutation of energy…


  1. >> would consider myself a liberal. Perhaps even a Socialist

    >> Conservatism as it is practiced and preached in our culture today, seems to attract those whose self-interest is the primary goal. To be a moderate in my view is to take others into consideration.

    Capitalism created the middle class. In socialism there's the the poor serfs and then there's the dictator & bureaucracy.

    Conservatives believe that keeping government regulation and spending and taxes at a minimum will create a strong environment for job creation.

  2. I don't know who SJ is, but he needs to study his political science. Amazing how many people think they know what socialism is when they really have no idea at all.

    I didn't know we were supposed to believe in reincarnation. Dang!

  3. I find it sad that since you admit that you don't know me you feel a need to make a judgement on what I know and don't know.

    What I do know is that socialism killed at least as many people as fascism, if not more.