Sunday, October 9, 2011

Beginning Zen & Crumbling Idols

I went back to the Zen center today for another beginner's class (the 2nd of 4). I've been sitting for meditation by myself most days this past week. It is... Well, now I don't really know how to describe it! It is calming. It is not earth-shattering. But on days that I do it, I find myself more mindful of my thoughts as they pass the rest of the day.

And I have been writing, really writing again. I'm getting ahold of the book finally, it starts to feel less chaotic, less disorienting. I have set a deadline for this draft. The self-discipline of meditation has spilled over into that of writing. When I face resistance in writing now, it is no great shock. As most writers will attest: it is what happens. I acknowledge the resistance, I gently nod to it in greeting. And then I put my pen back on the page and keep writing.

It's funny, reading Natalie Goldberg's writing books was my first introduction to Zen (though I didn't know it at the time, I just knew I liked the way she saw the world). I found out only after I'd visited the Zen center here in Minneapolis that it was founded by her teacher, Katagiri Roshi. She wrote Writing Down the Bones and Long Quiet Highway while still half-idolizing him, before she became so disillusioned after his death when she discovered he'd carried on affairs with some of his other female students.

I'm glad to hear this tale of disillusionment as I begin. Is that funny? I like to see things get real, to have the illusion debunked that there is any way of life that will keep men holy. I saw it enough in Christianity, I was not surprised to find it here as well. People are people, thier foibles and sins remain. All idols have clay feet, and tend to crumble given enough time (and power or authority). Our human-ness will out.

I feel more compassion for this condition than I have in the past. But then again, I am more compassionate with myself. Most days anyway ;)

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