You’re a Zen Buddhist, Right?

I went to a study group that’s reading “Way of the Bodhisattva”.

It’s one of my favorite texts. I feel like Shantideva is one of the greatest Buddhist teachers of all time. We studied the chapter on Patience and then we studied the chapter on Diligence. It’s been such a wonderful opportunity. The group is called Younge Drodul Ling-Kansas City and they’re part of a bigger community. It’s called a “Rime Practice Lineage.” I think some people call this group Dzogchen Buddhism or Vajrayana Buddhism. It’s been a great experience studying this text with this group.

Someone at this group said to me, “You’re a Zen Buddhist, right?”

I was a Zen Buddhist. I don’t know what I am anymore.

I became a Zen Buddhist and even did some training as a monk. I realized I didn’t want to be a monk but I kept studying and practicing Zen for a long time. I resisted anything else even though I was practicing with a Tibetan Buddhist community called the Rime Center.

The truth is that I don’t sit facing a wall anymore. I sit facing a Buddha statue in my living room. And I’m studying all the Bodhisattva teachings instead of the Zen teachings. The Bodhisattva teachings are what have carried me. And I’m doing a liturgy in front of my statue in the living room every day.

The truth is I was telling myself that Zen is more secular than it is anyway. I’m not the only one. Buddhism is a religion (sorry) and I’d argue meditation is a spiritual practice too. I think plenty of people don’t like hearing that but I think I want to be honest about such things. I’ll always probably have a soft spot for some of those Zen teachings though.

I set up a statue garden in my backyard that I call “The Garden of Virtue” I read a text that said Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dwell in sacred spaces like that. I’m starting to wonder if that’s true. I’ve never been someone to believe in such things. What I know is that the thing that’s been growing in my statue garden is me.

I’m not a Zen Buddhist. I follow the Bodhisattva Path. And that could be enough.

Maybe I’ll become Dzogchen Buddhist. I’ve had some empowerments (other things I used to not believe in) and maybe I won’t.

But also maybe names don’t mean anything anyway. I don’t know what kind of Buddhist I am and I don’t need to know.

One thought on “You’re a Zen Buddhist, Right?

  1. Hi Daniel, The post resonates with me and where I am at in my spiritual journey. I was initially drawn to Buddhism years ago (in my 20s) as an alternative spiritual/philosophical path that I could follow without having to do anything spiritual or religious. As I reengage in my mid-forties, I am finding that what was missing from my searching was Buddhism’s spiritual and religious aspects. I am a Zen Buddhist – and am finding the more spiritual and religious aspects of zen practice very rewarding. The very same practices I eschewed years ago.
    Thank you again for sharing this.
    I especially loved this line, “What I know is that the thing that’s been growing in my statue garden is me.” There is something significant in this idea, this knowing. I, too, want to open up ways to create spaces to grow – or return to a more fundamental nature.

    Kindly yours – Anthony

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