Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Must Be Annoying

I sent the following question to Brad the other day,


I find it very hard to manage 2x30min meditation daily, though I am still working at it. Some days I succeed, others, I do not.

I definitely have a goal to achieve 2x30, but not specific goal in the meditation itself but to strive towards non-thinking "action actually" while I sit.

Is working towards it enough to be considered a "True Buddhist" or must it be achieved before one can "join the club?"

Now that I reflect on it, I'm embarrassed ... but only just a little.

As I've studied Buddhism over the last year I've found it unsettling. I don't know what the 'rules' are. I see lots of arguments about rules. There is lots of concern about good teachers and true teachers and the right kind of Buddhism.

I've been around for nearly 50 years now and this experience feels alot like highschool. I really was miserable in much of high school.

I can see those karmic waves still rebounding in my character now. A lot of fear and a lot of curiosity, and way too much seeking approval from external sources.

I want Brad to approve of what I understand about Buddhism. Ditto from Nishijima Sensei, and ditto from you who may happen to read this blog. And in that, is the point Brad strives to make in his books, you've got to take responsibility for your own path. I've never noticed before how much I do not take responsibility for my own path. I think 50% of the discussions I've had on blogs recently has been me trying to get approval for what I already believe rather than the exchange of ideas (the 'guise under which the conversation is structured).

Said the Oracle "You've already made your decision, Neo, now you're just trying to understand it." {or there abouts}.

I wonder how many aspects of Buddhism I've already made up my mind about and I'm waiting for someone else to tell me I'm right before I embrace it.


justzazen said...

Great post! Thanks for your honesty. Remember this is a practice. Just try moment to moment.

Not that I know anything but have you thought of instead of sitting 2 x 30 sit 2 x 10, then after a couple of weeks increase it to 2 x 15 and keep increasing little by little? From a bunch of stuff I have read the most important thing seems to be consistency.

I think it took me about 2-3 years just to get my ass on a cushion for 20 minutes straight without fidgeting, moving, squirming, rearranging. Also for me sitting 2 x 30 minutes (which I do about 99% of the time and have been for about a year to a year and a half), though it definitely makes my life off the cushion more stable and grounded, it's not like I'm levitating or anything! Go easy on yourself!

Also on the issue of "being a True Buddhist", do you think the Buddha considered himself a "True Buddhist"? My thought is who cares! Just practice off and on the cushion moment to moment. Sorry I'm preaching, but don't waste your life! (Now if only I could follow my own advice!)

Barry said...

Buddhist clubs are like religions - rules, membership, rights & wrongs, outside & inside, and all the rest.

Buddha's project wasn't about creating a new club to supplant Brahmanism. He just tried to help people wake up. Whatever it took, he would do it.

In my experience the forms and rules of Buddhism are useful because they help us stay on the path in the early days of our travels toward awakening. And I know from my early days just how easy it is to focus on the forms and rules, rather than on the path. I was shocked when I realized that I had substituted forms and rules for the path - really, I was quite deluded about this.

And, again in my experience, when we realize that Buddhism is not the path, then we have to find our own way.

I hope this helps...I do wander around in the wilderness sometimes...

Lauren said...

Barry and Just

- -


Thanks so much for your insight, camaraderie (and the practice which informs it).

Since writing Brad I have realized I already had an answer in mind (I just didn't want to take responsibility for it)..of course I can consider myself Buddhist even if I don't achieve 2x30.

Perhaps "Buddhism is not The Path, it is just the name of one of the guard rails along the way helping you stay on course."

Lauren said...


Html didn't like my gassho graphic. Looks kinda silly now.