"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Promises. Promises.

Each of you is perfect the way you are ... and you can use a little improvement.”
Suzuki Rosh

“Daily sitting is our bread and butter, the basic stuff of dharma. 
Without it we tend to be confused.”
Charlotte Joko Beck

Back in the day, there were quite a few of us that were drawn to Zen because of its seemingly irreverent and iconoclastic tenor and tone.  

To a bunch of 1960's hippies, peaceniks, and radicals, the traditional tales of zen monks seemed "right on!"
Those dudes were kicking over water jugs, writing poems lauding drunkeness, unabashedly proclaiming that Buddha was a "shit stick", raising all sorts of hell.  Those Zennies were our kind of people.

Little did I know...

Once I actually connected with a teacher and a sangha, a different reality emerged.  I found that the foundation of Zen Buddhism, like that of other spiritual traditions throughout the world, rests squarely on a set of rules.  Rather than becoming a member of another tribe of free form hippies, Zen training meant making a personal commitment to a teacher, and observing a clear set of vows and precepts.  
When I ordained with Thich Nhat Hanh's Tien Hiep Order, there were the Three Jewels and the 5 Mindfulness Trainings as preliminaries.  Then we received the 14 Training vows of the Order.  In the White Plum Sanghas I practiced with, I was faced with Taking Refuge in the Triple Gems, the Four Bodhisattva Vows, the Three Pure Precepts, and the 10 Essential Precepts. .


Jeez.  Growing up I only had to worry about the Ten Commandments! Now? This was somewhere near twice as many rules.  So much for "doing your own thing!"

Or so it seemed.