East meets West (in Wedding World)

In today’s polarized environment it’s difficult to remember that we are more alike than different. When two people from different places, cultures or traditions fall in love, we truly see the power of the shared human experience. And it happens frequently.

When its East meets West it’s an especially rich opportunity. Readers probably understand what I mean when I say ‘West,’ because we live in the West, but just to clarify, I mean people following Judeo/Christian traditions, and/or people from North and South America, most of Europe, Africa and Australia. For Muslims, one can be Western or Eastern, depending on the country of origin.

The Eastern world very broadly includes most of Asia and Eastern Europe. These boundaries can be fluid, but for my purposes here I want to explore the coming together of people from two of these diverse backgrounds. East and West. I’ll leave the Middle East to the geopolitical types.

It’s not too difficult to come up with ideas about clothing, décor, music and other ways to infuse a wedding with cultural heritage. Not surprisingly, I want to focus on the ceremony content.

There is so much wisdom to be found in all traditions, but for those largely unfamiliar with Eastern philosophies and religions, learning about it can be quite a revelation!  I often use quotes and passages from Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism or Sikhism. This is not to say that Westerners do not practice any of those Eastern religions, they surely do. But the origins of those religions are definitely Eastern. The great part is that these writings are very accessible for Christians, Jews and Muslims, as well as atheists and agnostics. Why? Because they express a something that is liberating, loving, and compassionate.

Many people believe there are simply different paths to the same truth. I won’t argue that point one way or the other here, but all religions certainly encourage good conduct, and living a moral and ethical life.

And remember, you don’t have to follow a specific religious tradition to find inspiration from any of them.

Some of my favorite sources of wisdom are the writing of Rumi, Lao Tzu, the Dali Lama, and Tagore. I have incorporated them in weddings because they are inspiring. Even for couples who are not following those specific paths, it can be meaningful to include ideas from outside your own tradition, expressing a world view that is open-minded.

Here’s a brief rundown on the four sources I mentioned. Of course, there are so many more, but for me, these are pretty important. See what you think.

Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. His writings, especially his poetry, has become a staple for lovers everywhere. One of his famous quotes is: Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

Lao Tzu was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is known as the author of the Tao Te Ching, and is the founder of the philosophy called Taoism (the one with the Yin/Yang symbol).  A favorite quote from him is: Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Of course, most people are aware of the 14th Dalai Lama, the current (and possibly last) monk to lead the Tibetan Buddhism school of thought. I love his quote: This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

And Tagore was a Bengali, who reshaped their literature and music, as well as Indian art with his modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He wrote poetry, fiction, drama, essays, and songs. Here is one wonderful quote from Tagore: Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.

Imagine a wedding with wisdom from East and West, a blending of cultures, thoughts, traditions and most of all, love.









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