|My interest in Buddhism began while I was living in Korea in the 1960s, and was principally aesthetic and cultural (visiting local temples). After returning to the United States I was influenced by two Buddhist martial arts teachers. Both integrated meditation into their practice. The first was Dr. S. Tsuyoshi Ohnishi, a Nichiren Buddhist who taught me aikido in the 1970s. He began each class with meditation which involved ki breathing and visualizations. See his article The Nishino Breathing Method and Ki-energy. The second was Bob, my Uechi-ryu Karate-do teacher in Annapolis (see Pangai-noon PDF on meditation). I also studied and practiced Buddhism and Buddhist meditation on my own, at a Tibetan center in Washington, and visited the Washington Buddhist Vihara and (usually with Bob) area Zen centers, seeking a teacher “who could speak to my condition” (a Quaker phrase).
When I became a Quaker, and a Christian, Bob introduced me to the Philokalia as a bridge between Buddhist practice and Christian asceticism. Centering Prayer (a Christian form of meditation) presents itself as a rediscovery of hesychasm. See also my Quakerism page for links to Christian practices.
We must recognize the differences between Buddhist practice and Quaker waiting worship: they are significant. After all, Quakerism is, for almost all of us, theistic, while Buddhism isn’t (except for some popular devotional groups in the Mahayana), but they also have points in common such as calming the monkey mind (at which I don’t think most Quakers are very good). In addition, Martin Laird, in Into the Silent Land (Oxford, 2006) makes a distinction early on, between two contemplative practices: the practice of stillness, and “the practice of watchfulness or awareness.” These are two distinct attitudes. The former includes meditation and contemplative prayer. Waiting worship is the latter. Each has its place.
Japanese “zen” and Korean “seon” (선) are the same word as the Chinese “chan,” which is derived from the Pali “jhana” meditation.
Here I present mostly links to Buddhist sites since that is my experience, and they have studied and refined this practice for 2500 years. I have given talks on Buddhism at Friends Meetings, and taught meditation in prisons and for recovering drug addicts. The links below were identified for a Vipassana (mindfulness) meditation group that met at Friends Center while I worked there.
The Buddhists have much to teach us about calming the monkey mind, getting beyond words (see the Korean Hwadu or Japanese Koan), and the death of the false self (ego), all basic to to meditation as well as contemplative prayer. Techniques include: Vipassana, or insight meditation (in the Tharavada or southern Buddhist tradition. Aaccess dharma talks by Gil Fronsdal of the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California); Zazen or Shikantaza (in the Mayahana); Metta, or loving kindness meditation; and Lojong, or Tibetan mind training.
Writings of the Vietnamese Zen monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh are popular with some Quakers. He was interviewed by Krista Tippet on Speaking of Faith (Public Radio aired 6/4/09). For those in recovery I recommend Kevin Griffin’s One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps.
Question to Ponder
a starting point for the Hwadu “Who am I?”
When we endeavor to calm the monkey mind, who is it that is doing the calming?
Gil Fronsdale told us that Pete Rose, a baseball player for both the Reds and the Phillies, was once asked how he hit so well. He said simply “See the ball; hit the ball.”
Chan Ho Park (박찬호), who pitched for the Phillies in 2009 (Go Phillies!), is a mediator, and comes from the same town, Gongju (공주, now a city), that I lived in in 1968-69.
Introductory meditation sites
Scientific Research on Meditation
Taoist (Daoist) Resources