he wife and I are attending a Zen workshop held at Joybird Books, a small local bookstore. I used to read about Zen forty years ago and make efforts to meditate. I don’t know if it helped, but maybe it rounded out my bookish intelligence. Did Zen open up my worldview, or did my opening worldview include Zen? Can’t tell you.
So after three classes, I’m struggling with meditation, trying to quiet my churning brain. It’s actually quite hard to sit still for twenty-five minutes and clear my thoughts. But on a walk today, I got to thinking (always am). Not to pretend to understand as much as our workshop leaders, but if you think that Zen is about clearing your thoughts, then is the act of reading an act of Zen?
When I read, I lose all thoughts as to my self and soul. I no longer exist. Rather, I’m feeling the story flow through me. Granted, my mind is not clear, but it’s no longer a churning maelstrom of thoughts – it’s a single unified story flow.
I’m wondering if any scientists have ever studied the brain waves of a person meditating and compared them to someone reading. It would be interesting to know how close one perfect state (the one I cannot come close to in meditation) is like the same relaxed and accepting mindset while reading a good book outside the P is for Pie bakery, sipping coffee and slowly eating plum pie. I’m curious. Anyone know?
Anyway, we’ll keep going to the Zen workshop. I like the people and I think the pause in my life does me good. And, of course, I’ll always keep reading.