Buddhism: It's Not Just for Celebrities Anymore

Buddhism: It's Not Just for Celebrities Anymore

  • Submitted By: sdifusco
  • Date Submitted: 12/08/2008 5:54 AM
  • Category: Religion
  • Words: 1385
  • Page: 6
  • Views: 574

The first time I had heard of anything relating to Buddhism (other than learning a few generalities about the Dalai Lama and meditation in school) was in 1993 during the Academy Awards. Instead of reading the teleprompter, Richard Gere gave a speech asking the Chinese to withdraw from Tibet. He was subsequently banned from presenting at the Oscars but not without much publicity. I did not understand the issue and his Oscar banning so I researched the Chinese’s occupation of Tibet and the request to withdraw the troops. I also did some research on Richard Gere and one of the most prominent aspects of him was his religion – Buddhism. Since then, the only practicing Buddhists I’m aware of are celebrities (Uma Thurman and Steven Seagal to name a few).

Richard Gere started his Buddhist practice studying Zen. Trying to describe Zen Buddhism is a lot like trying to describe a Seinfeld episode – it’s about nothing. With Zen, there are no formal texts, as with Christianity and the Bible, there are no church services required and there are no rules about how to study and practice Buddhism. Zen focuses on awareness - awareness of the here and now, not of the past which can’t be changed or the future which cannot be controlled. It also focuses on the awareness of ones true self. What this state of awareness is and how it’s reached is different for every person. This awareness arrives slowly through meditation, studying the readings of other Zen practitioners and sessions with the abbot or spiritual head. To become a true Zen practitioner requires perseverance and discipline. The culmination of study is rewarded with a jukai or ceremony. This is your commitment to follow the Buddha way and to honor and accept the precepts (moral codes, which I’ve listed below).

I attended the Zen Center of Syracuse on a Sunday which is a 3-hour session. This session offered a morning service (chants from the ‘Daily Sutra’ and walking meditation), zazen (seated...

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