Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zen


So whatever happened to all that zen stuff, anyway? I wrote a lot about my practice in the early days of this blog, but in the last year or two it's taken a back seat to all the other adjustments in my life.

Well, I'd like to think it's still with me, though to be honest my practice has been pretty slack for the past year or so. I've meditated occasionally, but I haven't returned to practicing with a group since I left the Zendo and Manhattan in late 2009. I made some half-hearted attempts to find a group in New Jersey but never actually went. If "everything is practice," as they say, you could argue that I never stopped, but I don't feel like my day-to-day life held much awareness of the Dharma.

Now, in London, I'm starting to sit again, though so far only at home. I'd like to return to more active, conscientious practice, but I have mixed feelings about rejoining a Zendo. I sort of like reading and sitting on my own. Maybe that's because it doesn't challenge me to leave my comfort zone and do things I'd rather not, like take up a service position or go on a weeklong silent retreat in the heat of August. Maybe I'm just a Buddhist lightweight. Or maybe, to be less judgmental about it, this is merely more my style.

In any case, now that life is settling down, I hope to once again practice more actively. In addition to sitting, I've been trying to incorporate some Dharma study into my days as well. I've been rereading a few books on the fundamentals, like Robert Aitken's "Mind of Clover," and I've been scouting out some Zen blogs on the Web.


My photography has helped by keeping my eye fresh, helping me appreciate the newness of my environment and society. The street art isn't as great a component of my photography here -- perhaps because there's just not as much of it as there is in New York. That's been a nice change too. I'm seeing a greater variety of subjects, like the sun-seekers in this churchyard near Russell Square yesterday.

I shot the scene from a couple of angles, and these are my two favorites. I like the bottom photo because the guy in back isn't blocked by one of the guys in front -- but I like the straight-on cleanliness of the top photo, too.

4 comments:

Lorianne said...

If I had a penny for every time I fell away from my practice, or had it evolve into something different than it was, I'd be retired and sitting on a beach right now. :-) I've come to realize that our lives, like our minds, have their own way of rambling, but if you keep finding yourself coming back to something, there's something powerful there. It's as if your inner animal won't wander too far from home.

These days, I spend far more time meditating in my car than I do on my cushion, and I've made peace with that. It's actually a lovely way to spend my commute, and frees up other time for other things.

Barbara said...

Maybe you can find some other people like yourself who don't want to commit to a complete lifestyle, but rather to a weekly or periodic sit and some informal Dharma study. I'll bet they exist in London.

I'm looking forward to hearing Thich Nhat Hahn speak when he comes to DC next month. Maybe that will invigorate my practice!

e said...

You seem pretty mindful, Zendo or not. Sometimes there is a gap between what I feel I should be doing and what I can actually do in a given time frame. These days, I make peace with the fact that nothing needs to be perfect.

Happy studying...

Angella Lister said...

i am really enjoying your discovery of your new home, in words and pictures, and i'd say your openness and welcoming of what is, has a very Zen tone to it.

I made that fist picture big so i could really study everything. it's amazing.