Monday, August 14, 2006

Process and Ritual

I have been reading a lot of books lately. I have read large portions of The Science of Realization (one of the Hare Krishna books that they try to get you to buy on Queen St), ripped through the Sutra of Weilang and now have started Vigil of a Nation of a much lauded Chinese author Lin Yutang.

The Hare Krishna book was very interesting for about the first half. The author (the dour looking master you may see in pictures related to Hare Krishna stuff) outlines the system of Hare Krishna thought well and argues in a sophisticated manner. I appreciate the simplicity of the system, it is much more logical than Christianity's convoluted logic (with all due respect to Jesus). His zeal to prove Kare Krishna thoughts leaves a lot of dogma explained to my satisfaction. Interestingly, a few correspondents argued with him quite successfully on some points and these letters are included in the work. I'm interested in getting a Bhagavad Gita written in natural English.

My interest in that was wiped away by re-infatuation with Zen. As mentioned, prior to finding the Sutra of Weilang, I already had it encroaching on my mind. Now, I am interested in getting all I can on buddhism. It is perhaps the sudden relevance to some mundane thoughts that bring it so strongly to mind. Let me take you back to 1999 March/April at Wellington when I was on the Organising Committee for NZ Motivational Seminar. It was the beginning of a burst of philosophical thought in me that took me to Taoism. I was there in the kitchen cleaning na incessantly building pile of dishes and finding the simple process of cleaning to be a great pleasure. I felt so pure just doing this routine over and over again. The realisation that there was no such thing as boredom or meaninglessness was probably one of the most profound that I have had and still influences me strongly.

Life, especially keeping a home, is process. Everything is process. And thus everything is Zen. We hosted some friends for dinner last night. Making chapatis was great. Cooking was pleasure. Organising the house was a wonder. I was having far too much fun before the guests had arrived.

I remember my amusement when I first saw the Japanese tea ceremony, one step after the other, after the other. I despised the arbitrariness of each step. Watching it though, in Drawing Restraint 9, was beautiful. I realised it was a process.

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