By Tyson Davis
I remember one time when I was a kid, probably around age 10 or so, my brother and I saw some Jehovah’s Witnesses heading down the street in the direction of our house.
Earlier that day we had found a dead snake on the front porch. We saw a golden opportunity.
We placed the departed snake’s cadaver inside the storm door of the house and watched from a window inside as the ladies made their way up our driveway and slowly opened the screen door to knock. Much to our mischievous glee, as they opened the door, the snake’s lifeless body rolled out of the doorway and onto the step that one of them was occupying.
The first lady screamed and almost knocked the second lady down trying to get off the steps and back down the driveway. Once the second lady discovered what the first lady was screeching about, she too started screeching and ran quickly away. We didn’t have any other Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on our door for as long as we lived there. My brother and I considered it a job well done.
I tell this story to demonstrate to you that I don’t have a lot of excess love for proselytizers.
I have never appreciated anyone trying to convert me to their beliefs and I never wanted to spend the energy necessary to try to convert someone to mine. Within many forms of Buddhism, and especially Zen, trying to convert someone is considered slightly gauche. So know that I’m just as shocked as you at what I am about to write.
Knock knock. My name is Tyson and I want to spread the Good Word. You should be practicing Buddhism.
And that includes meditation—lots and lots of meditation. Yes, I’m talking to you (and especially you Dana). Buddhism, and specifically Zen Buddhism, seems to be the greatest religion/philosophy/self-help program there is. Believe me. I looked into all of them. Before I settled on Buddhism I read fairly extensively about all of the world’s major religions, read a couple of Tony Robbins’ books, read The Secret, and even a book about numerology. Out of the dozens of religions and belief systems I browsed through, Zen was the one that clicked with me.
At first I only read about Zen.
I did that for almost 10 years and read dozens and dozens of books. It helped a little; I was changing at the margins. But it wasn’t until I started a serious meditation practice that I started radically transforming. Well, maybe radically transforming is not the correct term. The transformation started off slow. I didn’t notice much the first few months, and it wasn’t until six months of daily meditation that I noticed any difference. And then it was a couple of more years until I noticed more change.
After that, the transformations were pretty radical. I found God, or more accurately, my Buddha-Nature. And I promise you, you can too! All you have to do is meditate every day for at least 12 minutes! It’s that easy!
Okay, okay, I know what you’re saying. Meditating every day for at least 12 minutes is really not that easy. And maybe it’s not. At least not at first. I know, you have a LOT of other stuff you definitely need to be doing besides wasting 12 minutes a day (and really, it probably needs to be more) sitting alone in a corner of your house staring at the floor.
You’ve got a work life, a social life, dogs, kids, the internet—the list goes on and on. Twelve minutes is time you don’t have. I mean, you could get the abs you always wanted for only five minutes a day, so why would you spend at least 12 minutes a day doing something so boring?
Oh, and did I tell you that at some point during your meditation routine you are probably going to dredge up quite a bit of stuff that you would rather not think about and that you’ve spent your adulthood trying to forget? Yeah, that happens too with meditation.
I see people come and go through the Zen Center all the time. They show up once or twice, nothing magical happens, and then they are gone. But I’ve noticed that if people come consistently for a few months and start a practice at home—a real practice, not just sitting here and there when it’s convenient, that they too start to change. They feel better about themselves and the world. At some point they realize that they and the world aren’t separate. That’s when all the real fun starts, and it’s worth it. But don’t believe me, try it yourself.
I won’t knock on your door. I don’t have any pamphlets with nice, beatific pictures of the Buddha to hand to you. I won’t accost you at the airport while wearing funny colored robes. But if we are out sometime having a beer or pizza, or better yet, both, and anything tangentially related to religion, meditation, or self-help comes up, you’ll probably notice me trying to contain my excitement. Then I will try my hardest to act casual as I bring up Zen and off-handedly mention you should stop by the Zen Center sometime.
Hi. My name is Tyson, and I’m a Zen proselytizer.
Editor: Dana Gornall
Tyson Davis is not a Zen teacher. In fact, his main practice is “don’t know.” So don’t take anything he writes as the proverbial gospel (or sutra as the case may be). He studied Buddhism for a decade or so before he began practicing Zen. He’s been practicing meditation and Zen for about 10 years now. He grew up on a farm, retired from farming at age 22 and moved to civilization. He has a wonderful fiancé and a French bulldog named Ombre.
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