Friday, 30 December 2011

On being vegetarian

Recent conversation I had with a waitress in a restaurant. "Excuse me, I ordered vegetable curry, but there's chicken in this." Waitress, "But there are vegetables in it too." You know, I'd prefer to ask for a vegetarian curry, but I'm scared they'll serve me a curried vegetarian.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Why sit?

“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone” 
 Blaise Pascal 1623-62

Sometimes when I'm on the cushion, or thinking about getting on it, I think that maybe I should be doing something else more productive. But in the cold light of day, I know there's nothing more productive than zazen. That's some statement, eh? So what's behind it? What do I mean by that? Well, this is how I see zazen and its purpose.

Who am I? It's the eternal question. We spend our lives trying to work it out. We build an idea of who we are, but it's usually pretty wooly, pretty imprecise. We have a name, and ethnicity, a sex, a history, a job, etc, etc, and from these things we build a picture of who we are. However, this intellectual pursuit of self is always doomed to failure. We cannot know ourselves intellectually. Nor do we need to. Zazen is the study of self, and it requires no though at all. In fact, it requires absence of thought. Here are two analogies that helped me understand Zen and zazen.

Friday, 23 December 2011

般若心経を習ってる。  Learning The Heart Sutra.

The holidays have started and I have as a goal, before returning to work, to learn The Heart Sutra in Japanese so that I can recite it along with the people in my zazen group at the temple. Once I learn it, I will get a mokyugo and floor bell and practice keeping time. I just need to find a sword with which to slay the beast of procrastination. It has its teeth permanently embedded in my arse.