Jennifer Warren

Chillin’ at The Zendo, by Jennifer Warren

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH VIPASSANA

For better or for worse, mindfulness has broken outside the cage of Buddhism. Having won its freedom, it seems to have descended upon our society out of the clear blue sky like an UFO landing. Like all obedient little abductees, all of a sudden folks are following along in its wake. They are training themselves to focus on only what is in front of them, to do things very slowly and deliberately, and to pay strict attention to every little thing they hear, taste and touch, etc. All these qualities are equated with great merit and wisdom, but of course this was not always the case. In other words, the kind of person we hold in high esteem today as being very “mindful” and mentally balanced would, just a few years ago, probably have been referred to as well, um… “special”.

A lot of the world’s enlightened folk were considered a little off, or at the very least heretical, before their ideas caught on. Incidentally, did you know that in the early Christian Church the word “heretic” meant “free thinker” and was a term of praise? Make of that what you will. It is not my intent to get us into a heavy religious discussion today. My point is that much of what is considered rational and healthy in society is subject to change, going in or out of fashion, as the decades pass. Actually, the Buddha, although not a big prognosticator, predicted there would come a time when Buddhism itself would die out and be lost to the world. What of mindfulness then do you think it will last or peter out? The litmus test may to be whether it can deliver lasting happiness to the populace as a whole.

WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE IMPERMANENCE

My favorite American guru, Gangaji refers to the mass mental illness inflicted by society on itself as “cult”-ture. Of course, being that I am an artist, I have always had a tendency to go against the grain anyway. I like to think that Jesus, the Buddha and I would have understood each other a little bit. I have a few more rings around my tree trunk now. I have seen things come and go – shoulder pads, Beanie Babies, sticker albums, Crystal Pepsi,Jazzersize, and the bane of my existence, AKA, “multitasking”.

Some changes are thrust upon us without our consent and then disappear quickly, while others seem to be the result of a sea change in consciousness, and thus have some staying power. Perhaps this is what’s going on with this sudden wave of mindfulness. Either way, I am grateful. For the first time in my life the world around me actually now embraces what have always been my natural tendencies. Pretty soon there will be nowhere in the U.S. where mindfulness is not understood. Imagine, someone like me will be able to go to Macy’s, spend several minutes carefully examining the texture of a pillow and not be thought a total weirdo!

I remain hopeful that perhaps, mindfulness, like rock n’ roll is here to stay.
We all love to make predictions would love to hear yours, if you are so inclined. I’ll be waiting in my zendo ever so patiently…

Jennifer Warren
DOC #WF1092

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