Thursday, 4 December 2014

Zen "In Our Time"

Some of you may have heard Melvyn Bragg's Radio 4 program, "In Our Time" this morning in which the subject discussed was Zen Buddhism. If you did you will have learnt precious little about Zen or indeed Buddhism!

The whole program was a bit of a mishmash not helped by the fact that Bragg was obviously suffering from a ferocious cold. The guests, Tim Barrett, Emeritus Professor in the Department of the Study of Religions at SOAS, University of London, Lucia Dolce, Numata Reader in Japanese Buddhism at SOAS, University of London and Eric Greene, Lecturer in East Asian Religions at the University of Bristol failed to get over some key points. The most central one being the nature of Zen meditation, Zazen. Constantly reiterating that it meant "just" sitting was singularly uninformative so I'm quoting from the "Rules for Meditation" from the Soto Zen tradition...........

"You should meditate in a quiet room, eat and drink moderately, cut all ties, give up everything, think of neither good nor evil, consider neither right nor wrong. Control mind function, will, consciousness, memory, perception and understanding; you must not strive thus to become Buddha. Cling to neither sitting nor lying down. When meditating, do not wear tight clothing. Rest the left hand in the palm of the right hand with the thumbs touching lightly; sit upright, leaning neither to left nor right, backwards nor forwards. The ears must be in line with the shoulders and the nose in line with the navel; the tongue must be held lightly against the back of the top teeth with the lips and teeth closed. Keep the eyes open, breathe in quickly, settle the body comfortably and breathe out sharply. Sway the body left and right then sit steadily, neither trying to think nor trying not to think; just sitting, with no deliberate thought, is the important aspect of serene reflection meditation."

As you can see there is a little more to it than "just sitting" but as always I'll let you listen and decide for yourselves.................

I have also placed this on the Miscellaneous page of our Audio section where you can download it.

No comments:

Post a Comment