Progressive Buddhism, Zen Houses and Cow Spit

My practice is not rooted in a specific locale, tradition or culture.  Yet culture, tradition and locale supplements and heightens my practice.  My practice is eclectic, varied and free-range but at the same time the direction provided by traditional forms provides a necessary framework, structure and boundary.

My foundation is firmly Buddhist concrete, my framework delightfully Japanese but I take the opportunity to paint the walls, tile the floors and decorate the place myself – as I see fit.  I even get to build an addition from time to time.  But when you strip it all down.  Tear down all the sheet rock and accumulation over time all you see is the personal representation of the reflections of an indian dude that sat down by a tree.

These same representations are built and rebuilt over time by many people.  Shinran, Dogen, Lin Chi, Kukai all worked with the same foundation but build vastly different buildings.  They put themselves into a framework provided by traditional forms and created something new.  Dogen a somber hut, Kukai an expressive loft, Shinran a practical domacile and Lin Chi swinging a massive zen stick from astride a mobile home converted to a tank.  Progressive Buddhism always relies upon the traditional forms to rally against, tear down and rebuild or reform.

It is in the active searching that our practice shines.  There comes a moment of clarity when something is explained and we think we understand.   We attach to that understanding and stick to it and once we do that we lose the full dynamic of our practice.  When we are seeking something we are in full activity.  When we cease seeking we are in full activity.  When we think we find something we sit back and relax. 

My practice is grasping in the dark.  I know there are things to grasp and my senses are working fully.  In the darkness my mind is open to the subtle teachings that arise.  I can study and practice without expectation of the answer or understanding the question.  This is what our practice is in essence.  It is a constant testing in the search for something that is impossible to express, even by those that all ready “achieved” it.

This is my practice and I think it transcends the artificial boundaries that we erect, either culturally or religiously;  by Buddhists or Christians.  If my practice gets questioned I simply say…

Sometimes I just feel like a cow; constantly ruminating and digesting the same bolus of material.  Spit it up.  Chew. Swallow.  Digest.   Until I need to bring it back up again, completely unrecognizable but adapted to my system.  Why do you put a square peg in a round hole?




4 thoughts on “Progressive Buddhism, Zen Houses and Cow Spit

  1. hehehe i like this. i often think of how i would describe my practice and i really like how you described yours. i also often wonder what i should call myself if anything since i’ve not officially taken refuge anywhere…am I buddhist? a vagabond? a zen rogue?…not that I need the label but to put something into words for when i talk to other people.

    ps…i’ll be listening tonight! i’m really excited that you’re doing that program.

  2. Artificial Boundaries are my biggest problem with organized Buddhism. I’ll still continue to go. It’s just like, as a Vegan, at every buffet there’s always something I can eat. I just eat that and leave the rest for the middle of the curve. I’m happy on my end of the Bell Curve and there I will stay.

  3. I’ll try and remember to listen tonight too. I’m always afraid of the first time I hear an on-line friend’s voice. I know I sound like a Muppet, will they sound like one too and I will not be able to stop laughing? I guess we’ll see, John.

    • Its also a podcast so you can listen later. I too sound like muppet on the phone. Its very embarrassing! Send me the link to your blog at the Houston Chron! Can’t wait to check it out.



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