27 December 2012

Free Fallin'

It's hitting me more and more these days just how much of my life I've simply fallen into.  I suppose that's true for most of us.  Moves the parents made that put us in different schools, making the acquaintance of this person rather than that one, our place in the family birth order, our general level of academic or athletic aptitude, our dispositions and personalities – all these and more are so far beyond our control as to make the word, "choice," seem rather overblown.  To be sure, every moment presents a range of possibilities, some of which I will actualize.  But that range itself, the kinds of possibilities I take advantage of, and my ability to navigate them once entered into are for the most part not within my power to determine.

I'm thinking about this a lot these days as I find myself called upon once again to explain my entry into and continuing pursuit of Buddhist practice.

The truth of the matter is that I never actively went looking for Buddhism, or Zen.  A book of Buddhists texts was given to me to read as part of a team-taught course.  I began practicing at the Zen Center only after a friend moved back to Chicago and was herself looking for a place to practice.  I get no points for being on the cutting edge here. 

As far as the continuation of my practice goes, I'm not sure that there's a merit badge waiting for me on this one, either.  I'm not a natural at this, and it sometimes takes a great deal of effort to park it and settle down on the mat.  If I have had an ever-expanding job description around the Center, it's because I was given a job to do and did it reasonably well enough not to be fired from it.  Then another was added.  Ordaining was, for me and at bottom, a kind of standing offer to shoulder whatever other work needed doing to keep the practice alive, nothing more (or less).

Maybe that's the short answer I should just trot out: "I do this because I think it's worthwhile.  I don't know why I think it's worthwhile, and I don't know how I got here, but I do find it so, and, well, here I am.  I keep showing up because they haven't kicked me out yet." 

And in that, of course, my practice of Buddhism is no different from anyone's practice of anything else.  For is not that answer I just gave the answer any of us can give for whatever it is we happen to be involved in?  Do we all not find ourselves at pains to say (intelligently, and without mystification) something more than that?

It may not be the most satisfying answer, but it probably is the most accurate.

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