My classes started last week. It's going to be a very busy semester, 18 credits, but I think I can manage it. At least, I hope I can.
By far, my favorite class it Japanese 290, Zen Buddhism.
I consider myself an independent Buddhist, not bound to any particular tradition. I do this not because I fear elitism or feel that no branch is the right one for me. On the contrary, I believe that a Buddhist should explore several branches and traditions, and once they find a path that suits them, they should "zero in" and dedicate themselves to their path.
I consider myself independent for several reasons. I am still exploring Buddhism, and myself, and I don't want to rush into a specific style of Buddhism without exploring all other possibilities and paths.
I also take the title of independent because I take bits and pieces from several different traditions as I walk my path. I research chants and mantras to recite, from all different traditions, from Tibetian to Japanese. I even write my own mantras to contemplate and recite (also a great excuse for me to practice my French). I do yoga, I meditate as well as practice zazen. I read books, blogs, and articles written by Buddhists of various traditions, as well as Buddha's teachings. I try to practice mindfulness, kindness, peacefulness, and the eightfold path. I want to explore and learn all I can, even after I find a sangha and focus on a specific tradition.
Another reason is that I want to be free to go join a sangha based not only on traditions of a specific style of Buddhism, but the people who make up the sangha as well. (I was, as a Christian, a non-denominational one, and it worked well for me because I could comfortably attend different churches when I moved or traveled around.) If I joined the Zen community here, and then moved to a different state after graduation to a place where there was no nearby Zen community, I would comfortably find another sangha of a different tradition to continue my practice.
All that being said (whew), I am particularly fond of the Zen community up here. The head priest of the Soto Zen community here is a wonderful and funny man, and I feel that I have a lot to learn from not only him, but the rest of the sangha as well. I am glad I decided to take the class. Our homework: 10 minutes of zazen every day.
Best. Homework. Ever.
5 hours ago