Jennifer Warren

Chillin’ at The Zendo, by Jennifer Warren

ZENDO INTERRUPTED

So, I figured I’d come out of meditation for a little while and explain some things about this blog. You see, as a meditator, I acknowledge that sometimes things happen and we need to have thoughts about them. I call it being “thinky”. As I said in my introductory post, I consider this place my zendo, or meditation hall. This word refers of course to Zen Buddhism and practices. I know for some people, zen is just some Asian sounding word that floats around in their head along with “mahjong” and “sudoku” and has about as much meaning, and that’s okay. I am not trying to change anyone or “educate” them. By the way, don’t try to look up the word zendo in most dictionaries- you won’t find it there. Try the massive unabridged one in your local library. Actually, I don’t suppose people in the free world even go to libraries or use dictionaries much anymore you all just Google everything, or ask your mom to. Sigh…Anyway, in the past, I have described this place as an ashram, but lately I have come to prefer the word zendo. And its not just a matter of semantics.

Perhaps I am prejudiced, but when I think of an ashram I think of a place where people come for a retreat, fall in love with the resident swami or guru, and spend a long time, perhaps many years, or even their entire life there. If they do leave they long to return. Zen monks in, on the other hand, will typically spend short periods of time training at one monastery or another, before moving on to something else. The latter I feel more accurately describes my situation.

Another reason I choose the word zendo over ashram relates to how I spend my time. I assure you, I love yoga and India. However, know that I do not spend every waking hour on my bed singing kirtans (Google opportunity here)or chanting all day- I don’t have the time to spend hours and hours in a trance like state (video games and TV don’t count, okay?). Despite what you may have heard about how we spend our time, I am really quite busy on any given day. I do meditate. However, I’m actually not that big into seated meditation these days. In my own way, though, I am in meditation all day long, which is another reason why I consider this whole facility as my zendo (I will share more about my thoughts on meditation in a future post).

I like to think of myself as spiritual, yet practical. The Buddha famously accused the yogis of using meditation as a form of escapism, and I think he had a point. Certainly since I started this journey, the goal of my practice has always been to tune into the right “frequency”, rather than drown the world out (much as I might be tempted to) with the white noise of various spiritual practices, yogic or otherwise.

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That’s what the hippies were trying to do, imho, when they weren’t trying to get it on with everything that moved. They were dropping out, tuning in, not necessarily checking out. In other words, they weren’t running away from life so much as running towards it. Those of you who know your mid- 20th century history might recall that they didn’t call themselves hippies at first that was some smarty pants reporter’s idea. I don’t suppose they cared what they were called I don’t even know if they had a name for what they were becoming.

I feel this idea of not knowing, of going out on a limb (Shirley MacClaine Google opportunity here) resonates now more than ever with me. If this rings true for you or even if it doesn’t I’d love to hear it! I will even respond to your comments when I have the opportunity. Until then, you know, you can always find me chillin’ at the zendo…

Jennifer Warren
DOC #WF1092

Categories: Jennifer Warren

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