Friday, November 26, 2010

But then again isn't Zen Buddhism the whole enchilada, as it were?

Brad Warner has a post which in one part decries (rightfully) the "commoditization" of Zen Buddhism.

He's right, but too much of that sentiment might come across as Louis Winthorp's skepticism that Billy Ray Valentine didn't go to Harvard despite the fact that the latter was sporting a Harvard tie. There are many ways to do Buddhism, and if many of them don't take the forms of Zen Buddhism, it may mean more or lesser effects regarding the objectives of Buddhism. Too, if the practice is good for anything, it is good for comporting one's "self" in one's day to day affairs.

Yesterday I took my son skiing. My son learned how to ski despite his truly horrible teacher, namely yours truly. My son's IQ, like mine, is rather high. But when it comes to athletics, we both (it seems) have to apprehend it intellectually before we can commit to teaching the cerebellum how to control the body. Or, at least that is how my son' s horrible teacher tried to teach him skiing. To make a long story short we picked the "wrong" mountain for him to ski his first real run as it featured parts on the "beginner" trail that were more intermediate than beginner. And those parts were linked to the super duper advanced "freestyle" area, so that if my son was unfortunate enough to lose a ski we'd both have to walk down the mountain. My son had to walk down that very difficult for a rank beginner section (about 50 yards). The accumulating worries in my mind were too much for me to ignore, and I admit I lost it once, and profusely apologized to him.

I had to remind myself that this too was practice - it was teaching my son how to ski practice and it required all the things I had been learning in "formal" Zen practice in order to get my son and myself down the mountain. My son was he very embodiment of Daruma, falling down one hundred times and getting up again on the one hundred first time. He became very skilled at accepting falling down and getting up again. Finally, after what seemed like the twentieth time explaining to him in my awful way how I control my skis, he "got it" - skiing satori! He skied effortlessly down the remainder of the mountain boasting he had learned "Daddy's swivel method."

This too was practice.

I know Warner was not referring to instances like what I've recounted. But I did want to note that whatever you call it, the cultivation of disciplines we learn and practice is vitally important for living life where you find it, and your life might depend on such cultivation. I became truly grateful for my son's perseverance yesterday. The boy's nine years old.

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