Nov 24, 2008
Silence and Posture -- Tamura
To me, a good Quaker meeting seems to be one in which deep silence continues at least for the first half hour because our minds are usually rough with the waves of thoughts and emotions and it will take some time for our minds to quiet down. Then some vocal ministry is given during the latter part of the worship. Otherwise most of the vocal ministry would come from the conscious, the surface layer of the psyche. It would be nothing but the product of reasoning and thinking, and the Quaker meeting would turn into a mere forum. In most of the Quaker meetings that I have attended, silence did not continue longer than fifteen minutes. It was sometimes broken in five minutes or so. Each time I wondered how they could calm their minds and get a divine message in such a short space of time. Some of my Quaker friends share my doubt and prefer completely silent worship.
pp. 13-14, A Zen Buddhist Encounter Quakerism, Teruyasu Tamura, Pendle Hill Pamphlet 302 (1992).
And on posture:
If there is any other thing that Zen can contribute to Quakerism, it is the idea of the oneness of body and mind. One of the most important discoveries of Oriental religions is that body and mind are so closely related with each other that we can control our mind to a great extend by controlling our body and breathing. The main point is to sit still with your backgbone straight. If we practice it constantly, we can control even the deepest layers of our psyche which would otherwise be out of reach of our conscious efforts...Yamada Roshi once commented on Rodin's famous bronze status called "A Thinking Man," saying, "If you sit in such a posture, nothing but pessimistic ideas will come up in your mind. To think rightly as well as to keep inner silence, you had better sit in a right posture."
I am finally returning some Pendle Hill pamphlets to the Durham Friends Meeting library. I've had them forever. Long enough to have forgotten that I quoted from this book last year, under the title The Buddha is a Sh**-Wiping Stick. I realized this only when I went Googling for an image related to Tamura (to include in this blogpost), and found a whole bunch of photos from my own blog. Sadly, the book seems out of stock/print at Pendle Hill, though you can find used copies on the internet. Or in the DFM library after Wednesday night.
Dag. I slouch while sitting on a Gaiam ball.
A friend told me about a friend of his who went lived in some tiny town in some state like Nebraska, where you would not expect to find Quakers, and saw an ad for a Quaker meeting in the paper. This guy was not a Quaker, but he went to the meeting to see what would happen in this town he thought to be devoid of Quakers.
Two other guys were there. It was on the living room belonging to one of them. All three sat for a while, for a long time. One of them said, "Do you feel moved to speak?" and the other said "No," and that was the end of the meeting. My friend's friend did not go for many months, but went back once more to see if anything had changed, and it had not.
Posted by: Elrond Hubbard | Nov 26, 2008 11:00:44 AM