Blogging about Zen

Hakuin’s EnsoThis blog has never been about anything in particular, other than whatever might be going on in my mind that I feel like writing about. That’s not going to change anytime soon, but there’s one thing that I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, but was never sure where to begin because I’ve got so much to say — and because I wasn’t sure how it’d go over with you guys, and that’s Buddhism.

I’ve been interested in Buddhism — specifically Zen — for a while, and have had a couple of abortive attempts at beginning practice. Even our wedding vows were inspired by those from a Western Buddhist ceremony. And now that I’m starting my overhaul, I’ve been thinking more about that. Beginning practice again is on my list of 101, and I know it will be an important balancing principle to the changes that I will be experiencing when I go back to school.

So I suppose this is your advance warning that I’m going to be writing a bit about Zen in the next little while. I’ll try not to get all religious on you, although I think that’d be hard with Zen anyhow, and I’ll try not to put you to sleep, too. But I’ll try to tell you the basics of this whole thing and what attracts me to it, highlight some readings I’ve enjoyed, and basically share my whole rediscovery of Zen. I hope you find it interesting.

Having said all that, is there anything you’ve wondered about Buddhism, Zen, North American Zen, or anything specific you’d like to read about? Let me know in the comments if you do, and I’ll try to address it in a later post.

9 responses to “Blogging about Zen”

  1. Pam: Hadn’t seen zenhabits, but it looks like an interesting site about productivity. But just to make sure we’re talking about the same thing, the Zen I’m talking about is the sect of Buddhism, not the popular “The Zen of ____” meaning “a practical approach to _____” idea.

  2. I thought the zenhabits site was about applying zen buddhism principles to every day life. Maybe I don’t know the difference. You could start with a post about that! :)

  3. Pam: I thought of a short explanation to hold you over right after I submitted the above comment:

    Mindfulness and attention are important elements of Zen, but that’s all they are — elements. And mindfulness and attention are important to daily productivity. But that doesn’t mean that daily productivity is Zen.

    (As a related example, hard work and a single career path are important in Calvinism, and the stereotypical American work ethic is one of hard work and a single career path — but you wouldn’t say that someone in a traditional career is practicing Calvinism.)

  4. What I’d love to hear is an explanation from a Real Person(tm) about the difference(s) between Buddhism and Zen Buddhism.

    I have been interested in Buddhism for some time, but whenever I try (not SUPER determinedly, I’ll admit) to find some good readings on the subject, there seems to be no ‘starter’ material(*). I seem to find a lot of stuff that says(**), “Buddhism is all about following the Nineteen Transcendental Axioms and the Fourteen-Fold Path,” without actually detailing whatever-on-earth those are about.

    Or maybe Buddhism IS all about dropping you in eyebrow-deep and seeing whether you crawl to the surface or sink. ;)

    *: I always get distracted by Tibetan Buddhism too. Fascinating stuff.
    **: Attempt at humourous wild exaggeration here.

  5. kalimonster: will do! And no, it’s not about sink or swim. I plan to talk a bit about things common to most or all branches of Buddhism, and then about what Zen is, and I think you’ll find it’s straightforward even with all those pesky numbered lists that Buddhism seems to love.