Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I got an email from my son Jason yesterday. Jason is quite the interesting human being. Very intelligent, like his mother. Quite a resume. Vanderbilt University, Georgia Tech, five years as a mechanical engineer with Flour/Daniel, photographer, great musician (got those genes from me) and now a middle-school teacher in a small Christian School in Atlanta, Ga.

The email simply said, "Why do you meditate?" My initial response was, "Who wants to know and why?" His response, "I want to know because you are my father." Then I said, "May I ask why this question has come up?" "Sure, he said. I have been thinking about this for quite some time, for many reasons."

I won't get into all the details of my conversation of me trying to come up with a answer that would make sense to him. But it seems to me, it's not my answer that matters. What matters is his willingness to ask the question. And that question has become somewhat of a koan for me now. I want to give the appropriate answer to this very important question from my son.

This morning I was re-reading a portion from ON ZEN PRACTICE and ran across this statement by Roshi Aitken:

We learn in Zen practice the infinitely precious nature of each particular entity, person, plant, thing, and their complete equality. it is not an easy path. It is not easy to brush away the delusions that cloud emancipating truth. Without religious devotion, Zen becomes a kind of hobby. Without the Great Death and Great Rebirth, it becomes a kind of self-improvement exercise. It is not a subject to be mastered with a certain form or a certain curriculum, but a lifetime training...
Hobbies. Self-improvement. I have been deluded on both these fronts in my spiritual journey. But it is my Zen practice that has helped me to SEE these delusions. Reflecting on my conversation with my son, I sense he sees this practice as some kind of self improvement work. I don't want to give that impression or any impression. I just want to SIT!
He does not know the preciousness of that question for me! Thank you Jason.
I hope we can continue the conversation in the future.
Deep Bows,
Your Father

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