Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In Contemplation of Zen

There are people who have a spiritual path, they have faith and live with a sure knowledge that an almighty power watches over them. There are others who deny that omniscient creation. I take a middle road on these things.

On the other hand there are those that seek to attain a personal enlightenment in life through quiet meditation, a spirit of calm and the practice of yoga. I would characterize myself as far removed from this. I am more worrier than warrior and so, in fact, I was highly amused when someone referred to me as "Zen."

At first I laughed at the thought, but then I began to incorporate the compliment into my being and felt some pride in it. Wikipedia defines zen in this way: "the attainment of awakening, often simply called the path of enlightenment. As such, it de-emphasizes both theoretical knowledge and the study of religious texts in favor of direct, experiential realization through meditation and dharma practice."

Last Saturday, after a run in the park, I was, in fact, practicing yoga out on the back deck. My mat was stretched out alongside my pots of geraniums, nasturtium, camomile, chives and impatiens. One of my plants growing from a lovely green glazed pot was an experiment that I thought I'd try. A banana tree. I picked it up for $6 at Home Depot. It was a tiny two-leafed sapling. It won't possibly make it through the winter and so I'll have to bring it in. And it could take several seasons of this special care before it will bear fruit. And come to think of it, I don't even know if it needs another banana plant for cross polination. (I'll check in later with my assistant, Ms. Google.) But the plant is literally growing at a rate that you can almost see. Every morning a new leaf unfurls from its top and the tiny thing is now a budding giant. But there on my mat, stretched out in my stretch, I looked up to see the underside of one of its leaves. The sun was conveniently sited on the opposite side and so it glowed in celestial earnest. In that light its veins were isolated and vivid. I reached up and ran my fingertips along the underside and I felt certain that the plant was responding to my touch.

Here was a girl, at times, who has been so frought with worry and anxiety that sleep was sometimes illusive. A girl who constantly shouldered self-doubt. A girl with so many activities and responsibilities that she literally raced erratically from one to the other. Stressed out. Exhausted. Stroking the banana plant and not a care in the world. Let's call that Zen.

So, if I am Zen and my friend sees me that way, I am going to venture that a shift has occured. We are principled learners on a journey of growth, are we not?

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