May 30, 2004

Moving from Catholicism to Zen Buddhism

In this Cross Currents article, Janet Abels writes about her discovery of Zen Buddhism and her subsequent rejection of Catholicism. Abels's story is particuarly pertinent for me as both of us are currently discovering Buddhism as ex-Catholics with Czechoslovakian backgrounds -- although, she takes her Zen practice farther than I would ever dare. In "How Zen Found Me," Abels writes:
How did I break through my stone wall? The first opening, and therefore the most crucial one, came about six weeks after I began daisan with Roshi. I was sitting in his zendo, waiting to go in for my interview, when suddenly, just suddenly, God dropped off. God as other, as concept, as object disappeared, and what "remained" was a vastness, a spaciousness, a fullness beyond any words. There was terror too but it did not dominate. On looking back on that moment (which Roshi helped me to hold at the time it happened), I realize it was the experiential awakening to everything I had always longed for but could never quite grasp because of a kind of scrim separating myself from "it." When the "other" dropped off, what remained was ONE. And ONE is always "just this." So in that moment, I was literally pushed off my safe map of certainty and knowledge and concepts and doctrines for the first time, pushed into a place of not knowing. My Zen journey has since been a continuing walk into that vastness of UNKNOWING that surely must be what mystery is all about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This article is funny, as it parallels my own evolutionl. I was raised Lutheran. Then I had a couple of sponataneous "satoris" when I was 17, and had no idea "what" the hell happened to me when they happened. The first one was 10 seconds, and the second one lasted an hour. Forever changed my life. All I remember was laughing because I got the "joke that is the universe". Then two years later I discoved a little San Francisco Zine called "The Laughing Man: A Zen-Buddhist Publication". Started calling myself a Zen Buddhist after that. Then when I discovered John Lilly, Tim Leary, and Robert Anton Wilson, started self-metaprogramming my own belief systems using a variety of psychedelics and magickal techniques, settlinging on something akin to Model Agnosticism as my metabelief system. Now I consider myself a Gnostic skeptic. :)

Paul Hughes