Until recently I’ve been a somewhat casual reader of existential philosophy and what can best be called “Eastern Philosophy”. With a BA in psychology and having made a living during that time as a commercial artist I suppose it’s not all that surprising that — as someone who’s not used to just following the rules and swallowing everything I’m told, without question — I would gravitate towards a search for meaning without necessarily adhering to the tenets of any organized religion.
These past few months have been the toughest for me that I can ever remember. On a personal level I hit bottom emotionally and financially, and the news of the day was no help: global recession, potential pandemic, rising unemployment, banks failing, homelessness, international friction nuclear missiles being tested — fuck! Why get out of bed in the morning?
And yet I — the-glass-is-completely-empty guy — started meditating.
That’s right: the original “doing nothing” at a time when I suppose I should have been doing… well, something.
But meditating is not really doing nothing. And it is.
That’s the irony. And it’s not.
In these past few months I’ve been exploring meditation and, more specifically, Soto Zen:
Soto Zen practice encourages paying attention to the workings of one’s own mind and to the discovery of each persons potential for compassion and universal connection with all life. It places particular importance on living mindfully in all dimensions of daily life, including family, work, and community. Through the unfolding of selflessness, Zen practitioners expand their inherent qualities of generosity, patience, kindness, humor, and wisdom.
For me meditation has become not just about those 20 minutes or so a day I spend just sitting but about trying to bring it into every moment of the day — during the morning commute, dealing with stress at work, managing money matters to pay the bills, etc.
Zen is not about reading about Zen; Zen is about the Zen of this moment.