Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I have a small zafu pillow sitting on an old blanket in the corner of my room, and this is where I try to sit zazen several times a day. Not far away is a disposable plastic bowl filled with dirt and some hinoki incense sticks, and a plastic water bottle that the maid sticks fresh flowers in a couple of times a week. That's it, pretty austere, but I'm willing to bet that Bodhidharma had even less than that.
The maids that clean my room look at that set-up and have come to the conclusion that I'm a very pious kind of guy. They equate the zafu and blanket with Muslim prayer rugs and think that I must be very religious. The fact that I shave my head, don't drink or smoke, and am up before the sun only adds to their misconceptions. I don't, however, do anything to dissuade their opinions, and the truth of that matter is that it would be too hard to try to explain the difference between Zen Buddhism and Islam given the language barrier. So I'm quite happy with them thinking that I'm some sort of modern day, western, incarnation of Kwai Chang Caine.