Archive for November 15th, 2011

HHDL & something completely different

November 15, 2011

Our assignment in SOL today is to find something relevant pertaining to the Dalai Lama and share it. Here’s my choice, HHDL in London a few years ago. Isn’t that John Cleese, 20 seconds in, appreciating the DL’s pluralistic observation that Buddhism is not for everyone (but neither is Christianity, et al)?

There’s a wealth of relevant stuff out there, online and in print. Check out the “Night-Stand Buddhist” site for more suggestions.

Those of us with the Dalai Lama’s book in hand have the alternative assignment of reading and posing questions about the first three chapters. Circumambulation, mentioned briefly in chapter one, is the topic I’m most intrigued by. It’s a ritual practice intended to facilitate or “fabricate” an enlightenend state of mind and feeling more conducive to selfless and compassionate Buddhahood, and it largely involves walking around in circles.

To circumambulate literally means to ‘walk around.’ The principle involves making a clear and conscious connection with something that is regarded as special. This is often a physical object but it could also be a person. In a religious context ‘the thing’ would be seen as especially related to or embodying the transcendent qualities aspired to. In a more mundane situation one could go round a dwelling say as part of a blessing. Buddhamind

Great! I’ve been practicing this one unwittingly for years, though usually without explicit thought of any sacred foci. The circuit around Radnor Lake might be an occasional exception there, like Thoreau’s Walden perambulations.

More typically, my circles tend to meander in wide and mostly-random spires. Nor do I walk in robes, or in a pack. (Can a peripatetic fly solo, or with canines?)

But this begins to answer my old perplexity: why must effective meditation be zazen, “seated”? Evidently it needn’t be, though the blog Zen Man Walking indicates that the seated form has its special dispensations.

My own contemplative nature, though, is best activated by slow and steady motion. In my experience the mind is most calm and clear at about 4 mph. As the Buddha said, “to walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” Good shoes don’t hurt either.