Meditation has been one of the major aspects of my life for many years.
In Zen tradition, the story of how one came to find a teacher, a practice, some degree of enlightenment, is called the Way-finding. So this is, in brief form, my Way-finding.
This story will take us from the sin-and-salvation South through the jungles of Southeast Asia, the deserts of the American Southwest, and the prairies of the heartland, leading eventually through the Northeastern rainforest and back to the New South. As the story unfolds, I will explore the various attempts at meditation that captured my interest, relating what my experience has revealed about the virtues and pitfalls of each – at least for me.
Baptist by birth and heritage, I became a Buddhist at heart in Southeast Asia, but spent many years stumbling around the cluttered cultural landscape that was America in the seventies and eighties looking for guides to true practice. I dabbled in drugs and played with yoga, prayer & fasting, and esoteric knowledge. I visited the Hopi and imagined myself on a vision quest; I read Krishnamurti and a few Buddhist sutras; I was wandering in the wilderness.
The journey took me through a brief return to Christianity and a few dark nights of the soul, periods of despair and abandon, false starts and frustrated efforts. I finally found a sangha and practiced Soto Zen for a number of years, spiced with Tibetan and Theravadan practices, Centering Prayer, and other techniques.
For a number of years recently, I followed the intense practice of Vipassana, in the Goenka tradition, sitting several 10-day courses at the meditation center near me and becoming involved in the operation of the center in various ways.
I still follow the disciplined Way, the Eightfold Path, of traditional Buddhism, which is centered on the Sila, Samadhi, and Panna taught by the Buddha – right living, right meditation, and right wisdom – but my practice has changed to include several variations in the past year or so, and I am not as involved with the Vipassana Center.
I also have returned to the daily practice of Lojong and tonglen, Tibetan practices which were part of my explorations during my Zen days. Currently, I am searching for a way to integrate all the practices that I find helpful and necessary to my life.
Another perspective on this journey is to view it as my karmic path. Karma is about the only thing that I believe, in the sense of something that I hold to be true despite the lack of clear, unassailable evidence in support of it, but I do believe that karma is real, at least in my own life. I have come to see its working as a function of the obstacles that I have encountered in my life – obstacles to going in the direction that I would choose or that seem easy and pleasant to me. As I have followed the path open to me around and through these obstacles, I have carved out what seems to be my karmic path: the best path, the most productive path – for me.
I hope that by sharing the process of this path, this Way-seeking, I can provide some inspiration, information, moral support and guidance to others who are on their own path. That is my only agenda here.