Goldie: Buddhist, Jew, Jesus Freak
'For the rest of my life, everything I do has to be with good intentions.'
BY: Interview by Deborah Caldwell
I know! My best friend was Catholic and that also is a very strong pull. And because she was my best friend, I used to go to church with her all the time.
So you had a multifaith childhood.
Definitely. I also went to the Presbyterian church. And it was so great not to be stopped, you see. A parent can say, "You're Jewish, you don't get to do that. This is our faith, you don't get to learn about it." But my mother loved Jesus-she was just a complete Jesus freak.
Oh, and I am too-that's another interesting thing.
He went to the desert; he sat quietly. He sat so quietly that he heard the voice of God. He heard the truth. He felt the truth. He was able to receive the truth because he emptied himself and he had the ability to do it. Perhaps that was his specialness, or part of it.
Why was your mother so into Jesus?
Because she felt he was an extraordinary man. She didn't believe, of course, that he was the son of God. But she believed that he was one of the great humans, superhumans, on the planet.
That was a long time ago to have been Jewish and to believe that.
I know. My mother was the kind of person who was very much part of her tribe and very much a satellite of her tribe. She was the girl who left her family at the age of 17 and went to Washington. My mother was orphaned at three and then was brought up by my aunt Goldie. So, yes she belonged, but there was a part of her that didn't.
How do you incorporate Judaism and Christianity in your spiritual practice?
I've been practicing modalities of Eastern philosophy since about 1972. What I've learned through my meditation is a sense of equanimity, a sense of all things being equal. Then I went to Israel--and when I went to Israel, I had a very, very strong epiphany. Every now and then, I will light a candle; I will light candles for my mother on the High Holidays and my father and my relatives. I haven't been to the synagogue, at least not recently.
And when I went to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I started to look at their society, I started to look at their people, I started to look at the ways in which they lived and what mattered to them as a society, as a people, what is their natural inclination in building a good society. Mothers and grandmothers took care of the preschoolers and created afterschool programs, where children can go after school to get them off the streets. These were incredible nurturing qualities, right down to making sure they had hot food. I looked at this and I finally realized, "Oh my God, now I see myself. Now I know why I sit and I watch my children eat and I'm sitting over them, watching them eat and wanting them to be happy because I'm feeding them." That's when I realized that was my DNA.
I integrate that knowledge into my spiritual practice. But who you are has not much to do with what you are becoming, because the qualities you bring to any faith--whether it's honed by family, religion, or lack of religion whatever it is--you bring it to wherever you're going. The idea of faith itself, that you believe or you don't believe in certain things, will continue no matter what faith you are in. You will learn to question all. So do I bring it to my practice? No, I don't bring Judaism necessarily into my Buddhist thought, because all that I have been is there already.
Is that the same for the Christian half of you?
Yes. The interesting part of my spiritual life is studying as much as you can. Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism and Shamanism and Judaism, Christianity--you try to learn what the precepts are, what the religion is, and ultimately, it's based in the same thought, it's based in the same outcome, you know.
(Whispers) It just has a different façade.
We go into religion in order to feel warmer in our hearts, more connected to others, more connected to something greater and to have a sense of peace. I think all religions try to do that, but they corrupt themselves. I like Buddhist thought because it breaks that down; it teaches you how to view your thoughts rather than be your thoughts. We live in this crazy world, full of jobs, and we have to be there, be-be-be--it's a very demanding, taxing world. The result of meditating is watching your thoughts, detachment from your own precepts of what is right and wrong, things that frustrate you, that you can't grasp and want to grasp onto.
How do you manage to stop grasping, especially in Hollywood?
Well, you don't detach. But your mind has the capability of detaching. Those are two different things.
|Goldie on detachment|
You find yourself attached to your own image; and you find yourself attached to other people's images. The trick is to become aware of these attachments and to become aware of the impermanence of them. The view of yourself is ever-changing because you're growing older, your body is changing, your face is changing, everything is changing-but you have a tendency, or want to have a tendency, to grasp onto youth, to grasp onto the ability to always look beautiful. And so the way to do it is to to release yourself from that because its outcomes are very damaging. So if in fact I see an ugly picture of myself, which I've seen many-
I have-and it's like a stake in my heart.
It's horrible-yet one day you're going to be very old and you're going to die and you're not going to look like this. So what are we thinking? But on the other hand, you're known to look a certain way, which makes the pain even worse. Paparazzi will try to get the most controversial picture of you in a compromising position because that's how they're going to sell it. So, yes, you understand that they've got tons of pages to fill and that they get money for that. Generations of reasons and whys and wherefores, you can figure that out--but when that picture comes out where they've got the lens inside the wrinkles of your eyes, and you say, "Oh my God, this is the scariest picture I've ever seen. How could they be so cruel?" And yet I do look that way in that picture, so that becomes reality.
In order to detach from that, I suppose what I do personally is I think of how it happened, I remember the person who took the picture. First, I feel complete sadness because this is what the world has come to. I look at it in a higher overview, taking myself out of the equation and feeling compassion for everyone in this position. Rather than saying "me," I say "we"; rather than saying "that bad man," I say "this paparazzi mentality" has to be stopped somehow. I try to get underneath the feeling and try to create a shift so instead of going to the "me-me" destructive feelings, I pull myself up, look at thewhole
picture, and then I walk away and I'm fine.
In your meditation, can you say, "I forgive him or her"?
I make that one of my practices; I think that's an intentional meditation in itself. I sit down quietly, take a deep breath, try to quiet my mind, quiet my breathing, and now bring the people in front of me who have created pain for me, and then bless them and put light around them and watch them drift away with love.
I find the exercise of visualizing light around people very difficult. Do you?
It's a part of your brain that can be developed. You just need to work that area and lighten it up and it comes with practice. But the intention is what's important, and if you stay in the intention of forgiveness, then you can achieve it. Forgiveness has been easy for me, though I've been practicing for quite a long time. But I am not somebody who holds onto anger or grudges.
For instance, you go through a divorce. There is so much built-up anger because you have spent so much time saying the things you wanted to say, losing yourselves in the relationship, the person screwing around on you, being untrue, feeling bamboozled, whatever, and you end up holding onto this frustration especially if you've got children. I went through that.
"And then the police said, 'Oh Goldie, we didn't know you were here.'"
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