Sunday, August 30, 2009

Trout Lake Zen

August 29, 2009

Travel to Thailand provided my initial exposure to Buddhism. The ornate temples are irresistible tourist attractions. Then, a traveller notices the beautiful and gentle spirit of the people of Thailand (or Laos), where the vast majority practice Buddhism. No one ever started a war in the name of Buddha or Buddhism. So, Allyson and I were curious about the opening ceremonies for a Buddhist Abbey here in Trout Lake.

(Among the ironies of Zen Buddhist Temple opening here is that an evangelical neighbor is currently in Thailand trying to teach them they should worship Christ. Today, a Thai monk was among those participating in the opening ceremonies of the abbey.)

Buddhists do not worship Buddha or any one or any god. It's more about teaching yourself to remove the clutter of life and focus on the moment and do good works. Meditation goes hand in hand with Buddhism, and we were there at a time when they did a group meditation of 30 minutes of silence.

Here's the drill. The goal of meditation is to rid your mind of thought, which is impossible. It was suggested that we view a thought as if it were a stick in the river: acknowledge it and let it flow down. We were instructed to sit with a straight and engaged spine, as if we were holding the celiing with our heads. Cast our eyes down about 45 degrees, but do not close them. Place our hands onr our laps, with left over right, and thumb-ends touching. Deep breathing in through the nose is encouraged.

Casting my eyes down 45 degrees caused me to gaze upon the name of the manufacturer of the chair in front of me: LIFETIME. I failed at acknowledging the name and letting it float away. Instead, I started playng Scrabble ® with the letters: lift, melt, fee, etc. Many many words. That mental exercise took up at least ½ of my meditation and confirmed me as a failed meditator.

However, I may have redeemed myself, at least in part, with my approach to he young fly that became enamored with me. On the nature shows, wild lions seem to tolerate flies all over them, but most humans will try to brush a fly away, or swat it with intent to commit flyocide. Nevertheless, I thought this fly might actually provide me a good exercise in mental discipline. If I could maintain my position and not let the fly bother me, that would bode well for not getting distracted by jerk-like tactics in court or other places.

So, when the fly landed on my shirt, I acknowledged it and let my thought about the fly drift away. When the fly landed on my face, I thought, "So what? It's just a fly, and the cow pies in this valley are organic." When the fly wanted to explore my nostril, well, that was a bit too much for a meditating neophyte, and I had to exhaust a big breath out my nose. I trust the sound was not perceived as a disrecpectful sigh.

With the fly pestering someone else, my mind was free to notice more words out of LIEFETIME, including meet, tile, file, feel, etc. . . .

Actually, the 30 minutes passed quickly. It was probably better for my mind and spirit than sitting in front of the television for 30 minutss clicking through commercials, sports, old movies, and nature shows, which, I sometimes as a night-time sleep aid to clear the mind.

We are pleased to have the Abbey as another resource in Trout Lake. The work they are doing on their farm is quite impressive, with the vegetable guardens, fruit trees, egg-laying chickens and other things. The prior owner converted the barn into a wonderful space, which is now used as the temple. Also, it will be nice have the option to explore Buddhism if we chose to.

©2009 by JM.

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