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Monday, 4 April 2011

meditation: a final literary frontier?

Meditation: a final literary frontier?

My last posting was a book review of Living and Dying in Zazen. Conrad Didiodato kindly replied that he’d like to know more of my impressions on Japanese Zen practices, and also my thoughts on a possible relationship between Eastern meditation practices and First Nations shamanism.

Meditation: a final literary frontier?
Perhaps writing about personal meditation experiences is one of the last literary frontiers. D. H. Lawrence and others crashed thru the literary sexual barriers in the 1930s, and books on personal finances have become bestsellers in recent decades. Reading about either now should bore the pants off anyone who has passed thru their teen years and learned to balance a chequebook.  

If you are a meditator, as I have been for most of my adult life (ages 19 to 62), you will likely find these ramblings on meditation unnecessary and redundant. But if you haven’t
explored meditation yourself, these thoughts may provide some insight and guidelines to the WHY AND HOW of meditation.

A highly educated friend teased me a few years ago with the rhetorical question, “What do you meditate on, nothing?” He thought he was being clever and putting me on the spot. I should have replied, “Try thinking of nothing. I’ll bet you a hundred dollars you can’t think of nothing for more than a second or two!”

Zazen: just sitting   “nobody doing nothing”
This was the main instruction from all five Japanese Zen teachers in this book: the primacy and necessity of just sitting in zazen, meditation, as often as possible. No goals, no expectations, no magic – just quietly sitting.

The author, Arthur Braverman, writes of his initial difficulty in doing this seemingly simple task. He tells of following his daily thoughts and their meaninglessness during his zazen training with the monks.

Kundalini/bardos/siddhis/bodhisattvas/nirvana/enlightenment – even haiku   : )
According to Braverman, Japanese Zen teachers don’t concern themselves with these more exotic aspects of Buddhism, which are usually associated with Tibetan Buddhism.
I don’t remember reading one of these words in the entire book. Japanese Zen Buddhism struck me as very basic, even simplistic. We Westerners want to get onto the real stuff after we’ve bent ourselves into knots practicing yoga and reading New Age gurus. But the Japanese practitioners keep returning to the purest aspects of meditation – ‘when sitting in meditation, one sits with Buddha’ … nothing more, nothing less.

Some personal experiences and evolving practice (even shamanism)
Enough blather for one day – will attempt this in a future posting. 

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