Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas, Zensters on Both Sides, No Sides, All Sides

The day after Christmas. So to practice we sit in the mornings and the evenings and maybe in-between. The practice of zazen informs our daily life. Going to work, eating breakfast, washing the dishes, saying hello to the people that cross our path.

If you’ve been raised in our culture, our civilization—aka, Western, the Judeo-Christian, American, whatever you want to call it—then you’ve been touched in one way or another by the story of Jesus who was born in Bethlehem and who 30-something years later was crucified in Jerusalem. It doesn’t matter if you’re an agnostic, Christian, Jew, Native American, atheist, Buddhist, something else or none of the above, the story of Jesus has entered into your thinking and understanding. It’s simply part of the language of who you are. So how do we, as practitioners of Zen, think about the story? Instead of ignoring it (or worse, mocking it) or, on the other extreme, accepting it as truth with no questions asked, my belief is that we should work to understand it. Like we work to understand all the many stories in the Buddhist and Zen traditions. The principle elements of the story of Jesus are found in so many stories of the Buddha and Zen Masters—human birth, practice, teaching, death and resurrection.

So what does it mean to be the son (or daughter) of God?

So yes we will be sitting this Tuesday, 7pm, @ 4425 Byron at the Unitarian Sanctuary. On cold nights the front door may be shut but it’s not locked. You can see the lights through the stained-glass windows. We’ll be sitting inside, ringing the bell, lighting the candle and the incense, chanting and sitting and sipping at our tea. It happens like that every time. Strange, how it’s never the same. I hope to see you guys there if you can make it.

And Merry Christmas to you all. And please, like Jesus of Nazareth taught, respond to others, especially to those in need, with wisdom and kindness.

[P.S. The painting is by Pieter van Breugel the Elder, one of my all time favorite painters. He was one of the masters during the Flemish Renaissance, and he loved to mixed the profane and the sacred, humor and wisdom into his work.]

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