Well, not quite..but in the last couple of months I (and Rob, for that matter) have been reading, listening to podcasts, and attending ‘classes’ about Zen Buddhism. Hence the recent vegetarian decision and the effort on my part to cut out excessive drinking. I see this as a naturalÂ development from me getting into yoga, which I still practise every day, although the two are notÂ necessarilyÂ about the same thing, as it is possible to take yoga at a purely physiological level.
Where spirituality of any kind is concerned (even something as seemingly benevolent and non-western as, Buddhism) I am very, very, sceptical. This is based on my experience that some of the most bigoted and judgemental people I have ever met have been fromÂ an organised religion that touts itself as being for the good of mankind, demands blind devotion and takes on the role of judge and jury based on an interpretation of a text written a gizillion years ago,Â of which there are at least 100 other interpretations all claiming to be ‘the one true one’.
However, based on my experience so far, I have to say, I really am all for Zen..
There are lots of different schools of Zen and I couldn’t tell one from the other at the moment. What I do know is that any school recommends two fundamental things. The first is that you question everything you are told so that you fully understand for yourself, your own relationship to the world – what a healthy suggestion…
The second major tenet is thatÂ you meditate on a regular basis. So I thought I’d try this as a starter. With the help of classes from a lovely nun (who follows the Vietnemese Zen tradition) at the Blue Heron Zen Center in Hamilton, I have been ‘learning’ to meditate.
Sister Tinh Quanq, who is aboutÂ as downhome Canadian as they come (I don’t know what her Western name is but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was ‘Jane’) gives classes once a week and when I am in Gabon, Rob records them and sends them to me as MP3’s.
The effects of meditation are subtle, and at the same time, radical. I am typically one of those people who find it difficult to control my thoughts (hence the title of this blog) and I am often at the whim of my own mental state and emotions. Meditating has given me a degree of control and calmness that I have never had before and I LOVE it!!
I haven’t becomeÂ a smug, self-satisified,Â karma kid just yet,Â quoting from the sutras andÂ blathering on about enlightenment. I doubt very muchÂ that the people around me have noticed any change at all (then again, the only thing they would notice is ifÂ walked into workÂ naked) but I have changed in small ways and I intend to continue to do so. It takes discipline to get out of bed every morning and meditate, especially when you start work at 6.30am every day, but it has been worth the effort andÂ I wanted to blog about it because I think it is another big change in my life for the better.