Monday, October 17, 2011


A sixteen-year-old high school junior intent on writing a paper for her advanced-placement class at a local college came by the zendo yesterday. Buddhism was her subject, and she had been charged not just with reading up on the topic but also with dipping her toe in one practicing group or another.

It was a lot of fun being a homework topic. Thirty-five or 40 years of interest and practice ... and it all comes down to someone else's homework. Spiritual endeavor, which can be so serious and solemn, deserves to be considerably less serious and solemn ... after you have gone through the serious and solemn bits. Or anyway that's my feeling. Why should spiritual effort be any more serious and solemn than collecting stamps or raking the lawn? I don't know. I'm literally asking.

Anyway, I had a good time showing this young woman how to do zazen or seated meditation, doing a small sitting, and then talking about whatever she wanted to know. She apologized for having left her homework questions at home (the dog ate my homework), but was a cheerful and attentive as we chatted ... an effort that was about on a par with getting the bicycle out of the shed in preparation for a ride downtown ... been there, done that, and more than willing to tell anyone who asked about getting their own bike.

Easy-peasy stuff.

Like finding cinnamon on the spice rack.

I was pleased that it was she who was doing the homework and not I. As a teenager, I used to hate homework.

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