Desperately Seeking Souls: An Experience With Zen

I tried to battle my late rising teenage hormonal imbalances with meditation and Zen. My friend recommended it as a relaxation technique.

Also, since I had fled Islam, tried Christianity for a day and made several attempts in vain to worship God in my own way, I thought my long-abandoned soul could use some kindness.

We went to the Kanzeon Zen Center on a Sunday morning. In the half-hour meditation, I could not help but think of the paper due tomorrow, how well the job interview I hadn?t heard from yet went and whether or not it would be a wise decision to change my major for the third time.

If being restless in an exercise intended for relaxing wasn?t enough disrespect for the religion, both my feet had fallen asleep, and my knee cracked every time I moved an inch.

I slowly opened my eyes. A woman facing me had a slight smile on her face, perfect posture, breathing in and out.

I closed my eyes again. Why couldn?t I feel like that? But effort brought more frustration.

Zen class started after meditation. In his speech, the speaker mentioned how confused he had felt when his university class, “the class of ?62,” celebrated because graduating in the same year made them bond together. He didn?t understand why he should celebrate.

Another lady mentioned how ridiculous getting excited about the New Year is every year.

I wanted to object. If we don?t get excited about silly things, then suddenly there will be no birthdays, no graduations, nothing. Will that make the world a better place? No. There will be the same people partying, this time with no excuse rather than an interesting and irrelevant one.

Of course, questions and opinions were encouraged, but I was one newcomer against 30 people who seemed to have been attending regularly for some time.

After the session, I told my friend, an almost regular attendee, about my opposition. It turned out I had misinterpreted the teachings of Buddha.

Encouraging people not to join the crowd is meant to “promote individual thought,” not to stop enthusiasm for life.

“Are you coming next week?” she asked.

I remembered my feet falling asleep, the time I could have been spending on academics or sleep and my embarrassing inability to understand the true meaning of the teachings of Buddha.

Then I remembered that the speaker had excused me by quoting, “Buddhism is a disease, either you catch it or you don?t.”

I decided some bodies come without souls.

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