Hi from New Jersey

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  RT 10 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #41573

    Dino Silone

    Hello Everyone.

    As is probably true of most people my age, I first became interested in Zen in the late 1960s, through the writings of D.T. Suzuki and Alan Watts, with some filtering through Tim Leary and Jack Kerouac. Their writings fit the spirit of the times, but, on the whole, probably didn’t lead to much progress towards anything (exept maybe for being able to sound incomprehensible, meaning really, really smart! 🙂 ) – it all had a very “Emperor’s New Clothes” quality, and I came to realize that the 1960s flavor of Zen faddism wasn’t really something to take seriously.

    Over the years, I’ve read more, practiced some on my own, and sat with a few different sanghas. I never really joined a sangha, always dropping out when the interpersonal and political BS started to swamp what was, for me, the real benefit of practicing in a group, i.e. the setting, the structure, and the discipline.

    A confession: I’m a Recovering Catholic. Catholic elementary school, Catholic college, … the works. Once I fell away from the Church (50 years ago or so), I pretty much lost all patience for magic, for inscrutability, for claims of “infallibility”, … and basically, for religion. So, at the sanghas, I get turned off by the recitation of lineage, of the need to establish legitimacy by tracing the handing off of some magical quality from Roshi to Roshi … it all feels a little too much like my Old Mother Church. I tolerate the chanting, the prostrations, and the rest, because I love to meditate with the group. But, honestly, the religious trappings of Zen add nothing for me, and actually detract. (Wow! I’m sounding like a Bhuddist Puritan, railing at Papist Mummeries! :). )

    So – what am I doing here? One thing is that, at a fundamental level, the basic concepts of the Dharma make a lot of sense to me as a prescription for leading a more satisfying and happier life. Maybe even more so now, as I’m making the transition from middle age to “senior citizenhood”. And the practice of Zazen is, for me at least, a fantastic way to quiet the internal noise and to experience, for a little while at least, what the Buddha was talking about.

    It all makes just as much sense, maybe more sense, without all the saints and magic and religious/theological hocus-pocus and mythology borrowed in from the various religions Bhuddism came in contact with as it developed. (Beginning right at the beginning…)

    After starting to sit with this new Sangha, (really nice people, BTW), I did some internet searching and came across some of Stuart Lach’s papers. I found that I resonated with a lot of what he said. And, in that search, also came across the term “Secular Zen” and a pointer to this site. It seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.

    Sorry for running off at the mouth. :). Probably nothing you haven’t heard a million times before. But the privilege of age is that I’m allowed to be wordy and repetitive…

    Glad to be here!

  • #41576
    Ted Meissner
    Ted Meissner

    You’re in the right place, then, Dino. Welcome! And you may be interested in an interview just completed for the podcast, it’s with Alan Watts’s daughters about their collection of his letters.

  • #41584


    Hi Dino,

    I can relate to your aversion to some of the traditional Buddhist practices. I was contemplating exploring some local zen temples I’m afraid they would be too religious and culty for my liking. I think that I may still explore one just for curiosities sake but I suspect I will feel very uncomfortable because of their similarities with my religious upbringing which was somewhat traumatic.

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