Zazen (Zen meditation) is practiced facing a blank wall. However, some use imagery conducive to a meditation. In zazen, visuals aren’t the focus but provide background noise. Choose scenes that whisper. Here’s an idea.
On this site, every Wednesday, we share a wallpaper. I incorporate these in my altar; with a miniature rock garden, candles and two statues. If I’m travelling, my laptop provides a zazen backdrop that feels routine.
Speaking of altars, the Shambhala Sun reports Pat Robertson counseled a viewer to destroy their friend’s Buddhist statue. The author of the article wondered;
“Who in hell does Pat Robertson think he is?… Who in hell does Pat Robertson think Buddhists are?”
As for Mr Robertson, my former pastor’s joke is informative;
“You can always tell a preacher…but you can’t tell him much.”
About his idea on Buddhists, he’s naive. It might surprise him to hear the Zen saying,
“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”
When asked about gods, the afterlife or other religious dogmas, the Buddha refused to answer. He thought the questions unskillful. Basically, he said, “I teach one thing only; the cause of and cure for suffering. None of these inquiries furthers my teaching.”
His teaching, in short, was life is full of anguish. We experience dis-ease because we are attached; to persons, places, things and ideas. People leave, places change, things deteriorate, ideas aren’t always reality. Our grasping causes our discomfort. When we ‘let go’ of our belief ‘things must be so’ and accept ‘yes, and this also’, we eliminate suffering.
Pastor Robertson evidently thinks statues are ‘holy’ objects for Buddhists. Buddhist imagery displayed alongside Christian symbols irritates him. One wonders, which image is offending which?
From a Zen Buddhist perspective, two observations;
1. The pastor is attached to the idol of ‘no-image’. He’s railed against Christian idols, too. His attachment to ‘no-image’ worship has become his idol.
2. He could learn about teaching from the Buddha. Rooted in his own belief system, he could say, “I teach nothing but the consequences of and atonement for ‘sin’. Inquiries about statues do not further my teaching.”
We’ll keep posting soft, whispering wallpapers on Wednesdays. Use them unless you’re tempted to worship your laptop. And remember to turn off the display lest visiting friends watch The 700 Club. Laptops are expensive to replace.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous….Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
New RSV: Mt 5:43-48
Be at one with the dust of the Earth.
This is primal union.
He who has achieved this state
Is unconcerned with friends and enemies,
With good and harm, with honor and disgrace.
This therefore is the highest state of man.
from Lao Tsu ch.56
Jesus’ quote above is from the Beatitudes, commonly known as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, in the New Testament gospel of Matthew written in the 1st century CE (common era). Under it is a section from chapter 56 of the Tao Te Ching (pronounced dow-duh-jing); a book of 81 chapters purportedly written by Lao Tsu around the 6th century BCE (before common era). The Bible and the Tao Te Ching are the two most printed books in history, respectively.
Both sages’ teach non-discrimination. This is not our ordinary understanding of ‘tolerance’. What Lao Tzu and Jesus are advocating is we treat our worst enemy exactly as we would treat our best friend. Their’s is a radically different approach - no distinction whatsoever.
For Lao Tsu, the cosmos is also our example. Taoism (pronounced dow-ism) is earth centered. The Taoist works with the cycles of his surroundings. Lao Tzu’s ‘highest state of man’ is our ‘primal union’ with ‘the dust of the earth. When we have achieved this we, like our planet, will have no preference between ”friends and enemies’, ‘good and harm’, ‘honor and disgrace’.
How subversive. Such behavior is revolutionary. Can we…?
We celebrate our independence, our Presidents, our military. We honor our fathers, mothers, grandparents. We rely on service personnel, medical professionals, government leaders. These give order to society: they make our lives possible. Today we recognize those who make our lives worthwhile. Today is national “Poem in Your Pocket Day”; a day for sharing poems.
At life’s turning points - weddings, funerals, births - we instinctively turn to poetry for expression. On Twitter, Google+ and other networking sites today #pocketpoem will trend. Schools are celebrating. Groups are gathering in parks, malls, libraries - where ever people go - to hand out poems and talk about poetry.
Throughout the day I’ll be adding my favorite poems to the comment thread on the post here. Would you share your poem here too? It can be one you wrote or one special to you. Tell us briefly what it means to you.
My first verse is from Rod McKuen. It’s about music and love. It’s special to me because…it’s about music and love.
Once I wrote a song
Sixteen lines that walked
up from by belly to my head.
As I stood waiting for the light to change
And making up a melody,
A yellow bus passed by-slowly.
Looking up I lost the lines I thought I’d learned
And several more that never came
All because a bus passed by
And someone smiled from out a yellow window.
Look forward to reading your favorite poem. If you share a poem on another site, please leave a link here so we can enjoy it too.
Be well, friends.
April is National Poetry Month
Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.