In most societies there seems to be a "proper" arch to life. We go through childhood and become young adults. It is then that some adventure is undertaken which sets the tones of later life. I think many people live this way. In this model, Buddhist seclusion makes some sense. It is like a stint in the security forces of the region where you live. Isolate with like-minded people and do something extraordinary. Then come back "into" society.
For people that have discovered Buddhism later in life this is no longer feasible. Or it is feasible but with harsh consequences that do more harm, I would think, than good. A father or mother should not 'abandon' their family to isolate in a monastery to delve into non-thinking. A tree is in its forest, an ox is in its herd. It is un-natural to remove either to some new place. What fills the gap left behind?
I have often attended an Unitarian Universalist church, but I have not been in a long time... since before I started 'learning' Zen. Our family went last Sunday and it was a wonderful experience. Being among others with a common purpose of contemplating the benefits of simple kindness and peace had me in tears several times. UU's love live music. There were musicians playing violins and drums and other wonderfully 'woody', 'earthy' instruments. What joy. Joy that seems to be absent from the Buddhism I have seen so far.
I find this so hard to reconcile. At this moment, Bodhidarma seems like a fool more than a hero. These stories of historic/legendary Buddhists never seem to express the anguish of the isoloation they chose...of missing their families, and villages and friends....of missing the ebb and flow of society. As with the Bible we have today, the history of the thoughts of early Buddhist must be highly revisionist. The transmitters have decided what the message must be and passed it on with edits that send that message. Like tugs that nudge the direction of a supertanker. It may be only a little bit here and there, but eventually the course can be drastically altered.
Western culture perhaps is more accepting of private anguish and doubt. Some Christians embrace the idea of Christ having fear and doubt and pressing on anyway. The doubtful hero is as strong in Western writing as the resolute, unshaken hero.
Doubt seems to be scrubbed from the history of Buddhism. As the West has started writing about Buddhism we see some of the doubt appearing, but it seems to be absent from the East. We've got a much polished picture of Buddha after it all got good good for him. Buddha post-enlightenment. Buddha after its all clicked into place. I would like to know more about Buddha while he was working on it. Where is the Sutra of Black Doubt? The Song of Loneliness? The Chant of "What the F*** am I Trying to Accomplish?"
With this blog I strive to share what I've learned and think about Buddhism. I'm striving to do zazen and follow the 10 precepts. Buddhism seems to be helpful, but shrouded in too much weight and mystery.
I am also hoping to contact people of a like mind - that is - open to the exploration of 'self' and the joys and frustrations of its discovery through Zen. If you react to something written here, I'd enjoy hearing from you. Leave a comment. Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated.
I hope you find something useful, interesting, whimsical or amusing (as in provoking your muses).
Most people end up here because they are surfing for a picture of a fish bowl. Go figure.....