I am not a Christian nor am I a Buddhist, despite attending church (irregularly) and practising mindfulness meditation (irregularly). I began my spiritual journey in a Christian church forty years ago but now find myself sitting in a café reading a book by the Dalai Lama. If I am a Christian I am not a Christian in the same way other Christians are. If I am a Buddhist I am not a Buddhist in a way other Buddhists are.
Is a café a good place to start a new religion – a religion of one adherent? Maybe I should call it the Caffeine-Free Movement as I always drink rooibos tea. The first article of faith would be the belief that caffeine is not good for you and should be avoided. But the big question is: can God/Ultimate Reality be discovered at a café table in front of a mug of rooibos? I have to answer yes to that. A café is a great place to celebrate life, to thank God for existence and to practice compassion towards others.
In cafés we meet people being people in a relaxed, stress-free environment. In cafés we see only companions on life’s journey, stopping for a brief moment to reflect on how meaningful life is. People discuss shopping lists, make-up parties, politics, the state of the city pavements, pigeons, television and Twitter. People fall in love in cafés, agree on divorce settlements, get engaged and make new friends. In cafés too, people announce to loved ones that they have only months to live or that their favourite relative has passed-away or that they are moving to the other side of the world. Cafés are places of joy and sadness.
Life is all about love. That’s my second article of faith. Anything that gets in the way of love is worthless. Love is the one-stop bus to self-realisation, communion with the Divine, infinite interconnectedness, redemption, salvation and nirvana. Truly it is. I must add though, love is not easy to find. It’s there, with us, all the time, but it’s buried under a ton of un-love stuff like egotism, greed, arrogance – you get what I mean.
The aims of the Caffeine-Free Movement is the realisation of love. This doesn’t mean to say you can just go out there and find a nice man or woman and fall in love with them. Realising love is being able to love the other, stranger or friend, unconditionally. It means being able to love yourself unconditionally. It also means loving God/Ultimate Reality unconditionally. This last aspect means everything else. If you love God/Ultimate Reality unconditionally, you love everything and everyone unconditionally.
The Caffeine-Free Movement believes that to find unconditional love for God you must learn to embrace the world and the other. You must learn to see each fragment of experience as a gift. You must learn to feel the pain and joy of the world and not shy away from such feelings. All this can be done in any café. In cafés, the meaning of life drifts in and out for a coffee and a piece of cake, Ultimate Reality is nothing more than the chair you’re sitting on and people are perfect reflections of yourself.