pocoapocowithsmile

Nothingness (Mu) 無

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I started Zen meditation in February this year.  For a long time I had been longing to learn how to meditate.  I didn’t want to just do it myself in my own way, I wanted to actually learn the proper way and the philosophy behind it.  There are so many types of meditation and I had no idea which one was suited for me.

I have a serious issue that I have been struggling with for so long.  While performing music, some totally idiotic thought-like thing suddenly pops into my head, or some cloud of anxiety or fear, all of a sudden, instantly blackens my mind, or…. whatever…., if I let it then my concentration cracks, that’s the moment I screw up the performance big time…..

“Why does this happen to me so often?

I have not practiced enough? ….probably.

Am I overly self conscious? …..possible.

What is it that pokes up into my head and disturbs my concentration?

Is it something to do with my ego?

What is ego anyway?

I’m not trying to make myself look good or anything.  At least I’m not conscious about it….. How do I get rid of my ego?”

Then, one day a thought came to me.  Perhaps I should study the concept of “emptiness” or “nothingness” in Buddhism.  Buddhist meditation might help me get rid of this horrible ego.  So, I went online to search, and found “Northshore Zendo”.

It was the first Monday of February, a sunny white morning after an overnight of heavy snow.  Everything was frozen and sparkling.  When I arrived at the Zendo at the top of the mountain in North Vancouver, a tall skinny caucasian man in his late 50s was shovelling the snow. He was the priest Hoben.  For two hours I listened to him, feeling like my whole body had turned into ears.  I listened about some philosophy of Zen, basic style of Zen meditation, how to sit, breathe, get grounded….

It was, indeed, an eye opening experience.  You know…I was born in Japan, and all my relatives except my parents were Buddhist. I don’t know why I had never developed any interest in Buddhism or Zen.  Very odd.  However, what Hoben said sounded so natural, so logical, and so practical to me. Very interesting too.  I felt super excited and happy.

Hoben said that the Japanese society, its culture and values, are greatly influenced by Zen.  It is not overstating to say that Zen philosophy lies in the basis of everything in Japan.  He said that being born as a Japanese person is an incredibly fortunate thing.

I have never thought that way before, but felt very pleased.  Of course, I don’t know enough to say, but I do sincerely hope that Zen can co-exist in myself with my Christian faith.

So now….. I sit, meditate, and chant.

2月に座禅を始めた。昔から瞑想に興味があって、いつか習いたいと思っていた。どうせやるなら、自我流ではなく、きちんと先生について習いたいとは思っていたものの、なんとなくのばしのばしにしていた。瞑想といっても本当に色々あるし、自分に合う瞑想はどれなのか全く見当もつかない。

長年悩んでいたことがある。音楽を演奏しながら、ふと雑念が浮かんだり、理由もなくふと不安が湧いたり、凍ったり、そして集中が乱れた一瞬に失敗してしまう。。。

「なぜそうなるんだろう。練習不足なのか。確かにそうだろう。

自意識過剰なのか。そうかもしれない。

無意識のうちにエゴが頭をもたげ、集中力を妨げてしまうのか。

どうして?エゴってなんだ?

別に自分を良く見せようとか意識しているわけでもないのに。

エゴをなくすにはどうしたらいいんだろう」

悩んでいた時にふと、そうだ、仏教を勉強してみよう、と思いついた。仏教には「無我」とか「無念」とかという「無」とか「空」とかいう概念があるではないか。そんな概念の中に答えは見つかるかもしれない。そう思ってインターネットを検索してみたら最初に目に飛び込んできたのが「ノースショア禅堂」だった。

2月の第一月曜日、大雪の後の晴れた白い朝。全てが凍りついてキラキラしていた。まるで異次元のような美しさだった。ノースバンクーバーの山の上の禅堂に着いたら、50代後半くらいの背の高い痩せ型の白人男性が雪かきをしていた。それが僧侶のホーベン(法弁)だった。それから2時間、全身を耳にして。禅について瞑想について座禅の基本について話を聞き続けた。目が醒めるような気がした。日本で生まれ育ち、両親以外の親戚全員が仏教徒でありながら、なぜ私は、仏教とか禅について一切興味を持たなかったのか、不思議に思った。私にとって、とても自然で抵抗のない理にかなった、しかも実践的な教えのような気がして、妙に納得してしまった。なんだかすごく嬉しかった。

ホーベン曰く、日本の社会、文化、価値観、全てが禅の影響を受けている、禅が基本の思想になっているという。「日本人に生まれたってことはとてつもなく幸運なことなんだよ」と言われ、「へえー、そうなんだ」と感心。もちろんまだわからないけど、キリスト教とも全く矛盾しないような気がして違和感がない。私の中で両立できるといいな。

かくして、毎日座り、お経を唱え、座禅に勤め、少しずつ勉強を続けている。

Author: Haruyo Abramson

I'm a musician, mom, and grandma, living in BC, Canada with my husband and three dogs.

One thought on “Nothingness (Mu) 無

  1. Thanks, Haruyo, for this reflection. You are a beautiful writer – thoughtful, emotional, reflective. I’m glad you have found Zen meditation, and that Hoben told you that it was fortunate that you were born as a Japanese person. Does it make you feel good? I hope so.

    I wonder if we could find a convenient time to meet for tea some time. You could let me know in an email.

    With affection, Ginger From: pocoapocowithsmile Reply-To: pocoapocowithsmile Date: Friday, September 1, 2017 at 7:14 PM To: Ginger Shaw Subject: [New post] Nothingness (Mu) 無

    WordPress.com Haruyo Abramson posted: “I started Zen meditation in February this year. For a long time I had been longing to learn how to meditate. I didn’t want to just do it myself in my own way, I wanted to actually learn the proper way and the philosophy behind it. There are so many typ”

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