Quite a few Catholics that I know are having their time of lent now. (or it may have just ended, apologies for not knowing exactly. Is it a week, or the full 40 days?)
I can relate to this in some ways. On one hand; Buddhist retreats I’ve gone to have been put together in such a way that you give up things during the time you’re there. Whether it’s:
- eating a full dinner at night (they’re quite easy on us with this, compared to the Theravadan monastics, whom do not eat anything past noon — ever)
- sleeping in comfort (typically a blanket and the floor — or the worlds stiffest bed)
- wearing jewelry (admittedly an easy one for me)
- living in silence (sounds wonderful, but let me tell you — this is SERIOUSLY hard)
- and quite a few others, but you get my point
each of the pieces you give up provide a very direct way of learning. If you think of not wearing jewelry, you consider that it truly is ego that wears the jewelry. If you think of sleeping in comfort, you think of making every waking moment one of practice.
And, on another hand, I’ve personally decided to give up some things for life. Meat. I’m a fairly strict vegetarian. If a sentient being had to die — through skillful means I cannot consider making that my meal. Alcohol. I do not drink. Period. These are personal choices I’ve made. Vegetarianism came from seeing no other choice in my own practice. Giving up alcohol came from very specific vows I took.
So, to my Catholic friends; good luck to you. May each of you find peace in your practice. May your choice to give up, whatever it may be, help you in your life. I know my choices on the things I’ve given up have truly helped me.