I have been turned on to zazen practice recently when a friend recommended a book called Hardcore Zen. I liked the style of the writer. He was completely self deprecating about his life and his journey from a punk rocker to a Zen Master. I have read so many books over the years about different spiritual practices and ideas. I spent some time in a forest Wat with Thai Buddhist monks trying to learn about meditation but this book struck me as so practical and cutting through all the bullshit to get to the heart of practicing Zazen as a real person in the real world.
So much about Buddhism speaks to me. The middle way is something I have thought to be right for a long time. Our society reveres extremists be it in business or sports or any other avenue of human endeavour. We admire the workaholics who spend most of their waking hours trying to be "successful." We are taught that this is the way life should be. If we can achieve some level of financial security and have all those "things" then life is good. We admire that extreme athlete that pushes their body beyond what is a normal level. Buddhism teaches us that this is NOT the way to live life. This is not healthy and this is not what we should strive for.
Even in zazen practice doing too much is not beneficial. Some sects believe that sitting for hours will get you closer to enlightenment or whatever you want to call it. However, this too is false. Moderation in all things is key.
Yesterday I began meditation practice once again. I sat Zazen and was immediately disturbed by phone calls. This morning I sat zazen for 13 minutes. It is not a lot but it was enough for me this morning. Master Nishijima whose lectures I have been watching online, said that the beginners zen practice is no different than a master's zen practice. There is no competition in Buddhism, there is no better or worse. This is a heartening philosophy for someone whose legs are cramping and mind is wandering as I try and sit zazen for a short time. All that matters is consistency of practice. Doing it every single day is the key and not something that is very easy. Nishijima began zazen practice at 16 and did not miss a day, he is now in his 80's.